Leaning on God’s Word
April 8, 2022 | Author: Stevie Wills
Stevie Wills has both personal experience of depression and a counselling qualification. Here she shares the hope the Bible has brought and can bring to herself and others living with mental illness.
Ultimate questions are often asked by someone living with a mental illness. Where is God in this? Is he really there? Why is this happening? Is my faith waning? Is God angry at me? Has he abandoned me?
I have lived with depression and have wrestled with some of these questions myself. But we can find meaning, hope and comfort in the Scriptures.
God is with us
When I experienced depression, I couldn’t feel any sense of God’s love and goodness. I reminded myself of truths from Scripture. I reminded myself that, despite my distress, the deepest reality is that everything is OK because a good God is in control
The Scriptures are completely trustworthy because God is unwaveringly faithful. Therefore, anything that contradicts God’s Word can’t be trusted. God’s Word is a rock. Our thoughts and feelings are unpredictable. Therefore, we can put our trust in God’s Word rather than what we think or feel. This can be extremely difficult for the Christian living with mental illness. They may not be able to see even a skerrick of God’s goodness.
Promises to hold onto
Though a person living with mental illness may feel in every ounce of their consciousness that God has abandoned them, God is with them. The Lord promises, “I will never leave nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). God is faithful to all his promises, for he cannot disown himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Though a Christian may feel condemned, he or she will not perish, but will have eternal life (John 3:16). They might feel God is angry at them, but the Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). They may fear that Satan has gained control over their lives, but they have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into Jesus’ kingdom (Colossians 1:13). They may feel like they’ve lost themselves in their mental illness, but their identity in Christ remains, as a dearly loved, invaluable child of God.
Help to lean on God’s Word
In the midst of confusion, the Scriptures offer comfort, hope and instruction. The Christian living with mental illness needs to cling to God’s Word as best they can. They may only be able to read a tiny portion of Scripture, if any at all. They may not be able to pray spontaneously, but they may be able to pray passages from the Bible or follow somebody as they pray with them.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Growing in faith through mental illness
Mental illness is not an indication of weakness of faith. To love and worship God is easy to do when we sense God’s presence, goodness and love. To do so amidst feeling abandoned or afflicted by God requires a much deeper commitment to and honouring of God.
The God of hope
God’s character offers hope for a Christian living with mental illness. He’ll never leave us or forsake us. He’s always good, loving, tender and never evil towards us.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
He gives everyone sufficient grace to bear what they do (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sometimes his grace comes through medication and counsellors as well as through his presence, Word and people.
Hope can be found in God’s promises:
“They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water, on a level path where they will not stumble.” Jeremiah 31:9
God promises deliverance from all sickness at the resurrection of all things.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Jesus our great High Priest
God has compassion for us. He hurts for us. A person living with mental illness can feel incredibly alone because they can’t describe and share with their loved ones what they are experiencing. In the midst of depression, I took comfort in knowing that Jesus understands our experiences and sufferings. When Jesus Christ walked this planet, he experienced everything of humanity. I cannot begin to imagine the anguish and isolation that he experienced on the cross. He understands. We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus intercedes to the Father for us and helps us when we suffer.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
Mental illness can be extremely difficult to bear. But we can trust that God is with us, helping us through it. He is good, gentle and never evil towards us. He completely understands our experiences. The church can help people living with mental illness to hold onto the hope that is found in Scriptures. When Jesus Christ walked this planet, he experienced everything of humanity, and so he understands our sufferings.
About Stevie Wills
Stevie Wills is the Community Education Officer at CBM Australia. Stevie is a performance poet, writer, advocate, and public speaker. Stevie is a passionate advocate for disability inclusion, having lived with cerebral palsy. She has observed the cycle of disability and poverty during a trip with CBM to South Africa and Zambia.
Watch a video where Stevie talks about her lived experiences of faith and church.
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