Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand. – Isaiah 41:10 NLT
Charles Spurgeon once said, “The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways and die over and over again each hour.”
Mental illness is not a new phenomenon. The same biblical truths that have encouraged Christians for centuries can encourage those suffering from mental illness today. Even though we may continue to battle against the bottomless pits of the soul, we can cling to the following truths for encouragement.
1. Realize you are not alone. God’s people have suffered mentally, emotionally, and physically since the fall. Even Christ Himself cried out in despair on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), echoing the famous psalm of lament in Psalm 22. Also, mental illness is probably more common than most people know. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 American adults live with a mental illness. You are almost certainly not the only one in your church dealing with issues arising from mental illness. Speaking openly about your mental health issues will allow others to share their struggles and enable you to care for one another.
2. Remember, it’s not your fault. Though mental illness is a result of the fall, your affliction, like that of the man born blind (John 9:3) isn’t punishment for your sins or the sins of your parents. If you repent and turn your focus to Christ, you allow the light of Jesus to come in. Remember that even in the midst of your most mentally difficult days, James 4:8 promises, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”
3. Rely on God’s power daily. As you suffer the effects of mental illness, remember the nearness of Christ as He really knows the emotional experiences that you are going through. He weeps with you as He wept with Lazarus’ family (John 11:35). He is always willing to bear your deepest emotional burdens, and is also able to pull you out of this mess with His resurrection power. Trust that Jesus will work in and through your life and is with you no matter what.
Remain steadfast, therefore, for there is great hope for you. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” He will light up the darkest corners of your heart and mind (2 Corinthians 4:6). He will pull you out of the deepest pit (Job 33:28, Psalm 40:2, Psalm 103:4, Lamentations 3:55). And if He sees fit, He will use you to reach others for His glory (2 Corinthians 4:7-10). Keep these truths somewhere that you can be reminded of them often. I pray that God will make known to you His strength in your weakness.
1. Read Psalm 42. What are two things David expressed to help him overcome discouragement and sadness? Hint: (Psalm 42:5, Psalm 42:11).
2. Read Psalm 43:2-5. What is the source of David’s joy in this Psalm? (Hint: Psalm 43:4).