Just days ago, associate pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship Jarrid Wilson took his own life at the age of 30, following a decades-long battle with depression. As a Christian who has also struggled with depression to the point of putting a gun to my head at age 21, I am bewildered and bemoaning the loss of his life. Unfortunately, this tragic loss is a harsh reality of depression yet a beautiful reminder that Jesus is greater still.
It’s important to understand that depression is not uncommon, and Jarrid’s battle was not unique among pastors. In 2017, the National Institute of Mental Health confirmed that more than 7% of all U.S. adults had experienced a major depressive episode. Another recent study showed that depression is on the rise, and society’s increasing screen addictions play a correlative role. Since technology is only destined to play a greater part in our daily lives as time goes on, this trend is likely to go up.
Jarrid was courageous about his own struggle with depression and extended open arms to everyone going through difficult times. He did not allow the shame of his struggles to silence him, and in that, he gave hope to many through Christ as they recognized that although the world is hurting, that does not mean we are alone or rejected in Christ. In fact, just the opposite; God has made us righteous and freed us from condemnation.
Jarrid dedicated much of his life ministry to de-stigmatizing mental health battles among Christians, even founding a non-profit organization to help those facing similar struggles, Anthem of Hope. His wife’s words written in an Instagram caption after his passing beautifully surmise the realities of both depression and our hope in Jesus:
No more pain, my Jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free. Suicide and depression fed you the worst lies, but you knew the truth of Jesus and I know you’re by his side right this very second.
While not all mental health issues are due to the forces of darkness, her words capture the truth that depression and suicide are often deceptive attacks from the enemy and that, at the same time, Jarrid was a strong man of God who is living with Him in Heaven right now. Regardless of their origin, suicidal thoughts need to be addressed head-on, and those suffering need access to every resource; this includes counseling, medication, support groups and yes, spiritual wisdom and encouragement.