Review: Walking on Water When You Feel Like You’re Drowning

Christians usually do not talk about depression, because believers are – so I thought -not supposed to experience it. Depression is seen as a moral failing. To admit to it is to admit weakness and sin.


I recently read the book Walking on Water When You Feel Like You’re Drowning by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt. The book addresses the topic of Christian depression. As the quote above signifies, this is a topic that is often avoided, or written off as a spiritual problem, without addressing the physical issues that are at times connected to clinical depression. In my opinion, it is true that depression can come from spiritual issues, but after reading this book, I have also realized that depression can also be a very physical problem, and it may require medical help, and it will certainly require time and love in dealing with the problems.

I had always been of the opinion that if someone suffers from depression, that is their problem, and they need to just toughen up and get over it. Tommy Nelson, a pastor from Texas, and Steve Leavitt, a Christian counselor, both give detailed accounts of their journey through depression. Through their stories, it was clear that even people who are serving God can fall into severe depression, and they can require medical help to get back on track. This part of the book, the story telling part, helped create the backdrop for all of the advice and help that was offered in the second half of the book.

In the second part of the book, Leavitt provides a lot of details and advice concerning depression and how to deal with it. Leavitt looks at where depression comes from, what it feels like, how to know what it is, and what is actually happening physically in your body.

In the third part of the book, Leavitt looks more specifically at how to recover from depression. He addresses the issue of medicine and how to know when and what to take. He also looks at strategies to implement into your life to help you deal with depression in relationship with those around you.

Overall, I felt like the book was well-written. I found it very easy to read, and interesting. I do think that this is a topic that is important for Christians to understand. The book was grounded in Scripture, but also dealt with very practical issues for people going through depression. Anyone who has been feeling like this is a problem in their life would benefit from this book and the advice it has to offer. I certainly think that anyone who is struggling would realize that they are not alone, and this book can offer some encouragement and direction for where to go next.

My one biggest critique of the book was that the tone presented by Pastor Tommy Nelson was difficult for me to swallow. I have looked him up online, and he has indeed been very successful as a pastor and spiritual guide, but I still found it difficult because his tone came across as arrogant. In my opinion, it was the biggest problem of the book. I kept expecting that he was going to resolve his self-sufficiency when he talked about how God helped him through the depression, but it never really came.

I still recommend the book, especially for anyone who is going through, or has a loved one who is going through depression. It was helpful and informational in a way that often seems to be lacking in Christian spheres. Nelson and Leavitt honestly do offer helpful advice and ideas. But in the end, it does all come back to God, and who He is, and what He’s doing in your life.

Remember this: Anything that feels like the end of the world is not what it appears to be. Have hope. God is the God of hope. He is not a God of fear, worry, and stress. Grab onto his hope like a lifeline, and cling to it.

{read fall 2012}

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