The truth that God can work good out of this season of depression (Romans 8: 28) is a consolation to use sensitively. However, it’s not without biblical merit to suggest that God intends to use this season of suffering to spiritually refine both you and your teen. Let’s briefly consider three purposes.
First, you may find that your teen’s depression serves as an opportunity for you to share the gospel with him or her. If your child has yet to place his or her hope in Christ, now is the time to extend God’s gracious invitation. It may be God’s plan that your teen comes to saving faith in Jesus because of this trial (Psalm 119:71).
If your teen doesn’t seem responsive to embracing the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, pray and continue to gently teach him or her about Jesus when opportunities arise. Avoid “Bible bashing.” Ask God for the power and ability to model the love of Christ to your child. Trust that he’s working in your teen’s heart to slowly reveal more and more of himself.
Second, this experience with depression may serve to draw you closer to your teen. Despondency is an opportunity for a rich discipleship relationship between caregiver and child. This is often an overlooked element of the healing process, but biblical one-another care is critical when tending to a crushed spirit. As a caregiver, you are tasked with offering compassionate encouragement and patient help.
Third, one of the redemptive benefits of this painful situation is that God can use it to make you more like Jesus. You cannot always be sure of God’s will in your teen’s depression, but you can be certain that God desires for you to bear spiritual fruit as a result of it. To accomplish this, your child’s struggle is going to expose areas of sin in your life. It’s possible to become bitter when your teen doesn’t show signs of improvement. You may become angry when you learn how little control you have over your child’s enduring melancholy. However, this isn’t only your child’s journey— it’s yours as well. As much as God is working in your child’s heart, he insists on working in yours, too. Will you surrender and trust that he is training you in righteousness through this trial?
There are many ways you can (and probably will) sin as your teen walks the road of healing. It’s necessary for you to remain mindful of your own weaknesses in the process (Matthew 7:5). You and your teen are in equal need of a Savior. You both are dependent upon God for all things. You don’t understand everything that is going on with your teen’s depression, and therefore you must trust God for the strength and wisdom needed to persevere in loving care.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5– 6)
Excerpted and condensed from Help! My Teen is Depressed by Christine Chappell.