I’ve shared little of my journey with depression on my blog or social media, and I won’t get into in depth now, other than to say that it has sometimes been crushing. That’s one reason I enjoy reading so much—a good novel can whisk me away to another place, another time.
It’s time to get your life back. It’s time to stop pretending that Christians don’t get depressed. It’s time to get real with God about where you are and who’s in charge. It’s time to step forward into his light and enjoy the life he has for you. It’s time to come out of your cave. — Chris Hodges, Out of the Cave.
Out of the Cave is an extraordinary book that has had a profound effect on me. Chris Hodges is the founding and senior pastor of Church of the Highlands, a non-denominational, multi-site mega-church headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. As of 2018, it was the largest congregation in Alabama and the second largest church in the United States, with an average of 43,030 attendees every week. Over the years, he has counseled scores of people who suffer from anxiety and depression. But that’s not what made Out of the Cave such a powerful book. It’s because he has had significant seasons of emotional pain. He has walked the walk.
Depression is one of the biggest health issues in the world, yet those who suffer are still sometimes stigmatized—especially followers of Jesus. Many assume God’s peace, power, and protection should prevent us from ever feeling anxious, depressed, and afraid. But the Bible teaches otherwise, particularly in its depiction of the life of the Old Testament prophet Elijah.
In Out of the Cave, Chris Hodges uses Elijah’s life to illustrate that everyone is susceptible to depression. Even when we’re walking closely with God, we can still stumble and get lost in the wilderness of tangled emotions. But we don’t have to stay there, because we serve a God who meets us in the darkness. Hodges provides a comprehensive approach to wellness—mind, body, and soul—with his trademark blend of Bible-based wisdom, practical application, and vulnerability in sharing his personal struggles, Hodges explores the causes of depression we can’t change, the contributors we can conquer, and offers transformative hope and spiritual power to help us win the battle.
Hodges is an excellent writer, smooth and professional. He used an effective mix of personal anecdotes, biblical examples, charts, and questionnaires to convey his important message. One thing I most appreciated about this book is that he didn’t use a one size fits all approach, recognizing that some people suffer from a chemical imbalance and need medication to manage their depression, while others can use other management techniques for more situational depression. I related to so much of what he wrote because he has walked in my shoes. Bravo. 5 stars.