Hi,

Hope you are doing great!

I’m sure many of us have had times where we have felt down, anxious or even depressed. Life has a way of stripping you down sometimes, no matter how strong you are, life has a way of telling you, you could be stronger.

As a Christian who has had difficult periods, I almost found myself feeling guilty for the way I was feeling sometimes. Did I not have faith? Don’t I believe God can do it? There are countless scriptures in the Bible where God instructs us to lay our burdens on him, to be anxious about nothing, and to trust him always. So by feeling anxious and depressed are we disobeying God? Can faith and Depression really co-exist?

MENTAL HEALTH IN THE CHURCH

I have noticed that some Christians tend to brush off mental health-related problems. Not because they mean to, but because there is this common misconception that mental health is a matter of choice and or circumstance. I once heard someone say “I choose not be depressed” and I totally understood where she was coming from; it is not something she wanted for her life, which is fair enough. I saw in her comments she got a lot of stick for that comment because it is indeed insensitive to assume the millions of people suffering from mental health choose to suffer.

As well-meaning as saying things like; “it is well” and “pray about it” are, there seems to be a large discrepancy in the way some Christians respond to mental health challenges versus physical health challenges. You hear someone has cancer and you are binding and loosing (praying), but you hear someone is depressed, and it’s “awww”.

The way we recognise the severity of physical health challenges, is the same way we should in mental health challenges. They both have the capability to result in death.

FAITH 

So if mental health is not a choice, why do we feel guilt? Why do we cover it in shame? Truth is, there are many possible answers, but the one I would like to dive into is Faith.

God see’s us as the light of the world, yet depression seem’s like you are in a room full of darkness.“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” [Matthew 5:14] How we see ourselves in such moments and how God sees us, conflict. That is where the guilt creeps in. Who am I to tell God he is wrong?  That is where shame comes in. How do you let the words, “I think God is wrong about me”, out.  The answer is… you don’t, so you suffer in silence. How can you receive treatment and get better without consulting the doctor and examining the issue? Sometimes we are the ones that trivialise our own problems by hoping they will go away without doing anything about it.

I have heard so many testimonies of people being delivered from fatal diseases, yet I have thought depression is “too complicated” to talk to God about, it was my faith that was lacking.

As a psychology graduate and someone who prioritises my mental health, I also recognise that God’s infinite mercy supersedes all things. The way someone can have cancer and still have faith in God for healing is the same way faith can be applied to any mental health condition and indeed any other condition. So YES, faith and depression can co-exist! But rather than attempting to let the two live harmoniously, the faith should override them all.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” [1 Corinthians 3:16-17]

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” [Romans 12:2]

Those scriptures are so important to me because God is telling us our bodies are precious to him and anything that aims to destroy it will be destroyed. Depression CAN be destroyed. The world will tell you, this is what you are and this is what you’ll be. As for me “I choose” NOT to place my destiny in the hands of human beings or to let my mental health be reliant on human beings.  I rather choose to transform my mind by renewing it daily and to have FAITH that God can deliver me from anything.

SUMMARY

The main message I am trying to portray is that mental health challenges are something to be taken seriously even as a Christian who has faith. God has given knowledge to experts for a reason. However, God always has the final say over our lives. I know it is a contradiction, to accept depression and reject it at the same time.  Like an addict, the first stage of recovery is realising you have a problem. Don’t feel bad for feeling the way you do, because it only means you are one step closer to overcoming it.

Here are some scriptures that we should remind ourselves of daily when going through it:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”[John 16:33] 

 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” [Ephesians 6:11]

“He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.” [Isaiah 40:29]

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” [1 Thessalonians 5:5]

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” [1 Peter 2:9]

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” [Deuteronomy 31:8]
“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”[Psalm 3:3]

“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” [Psalm 34:17]

Finally, I pay God will turn your Tears to Laughter.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” [Psalm 40:1-3]
Kind Regards,
Sis
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