03 Oct 5 Things God Wants You to Know About Mental Illness
For some reason, God is not always presented as an ally for those dealing with mental illness. In the past, many Christians have been forced to believe—or at least accept—the idea that prayer is the only thing that can heal depression or anxiety. We’re made to believe that medication is bad. That counselors aren’t necessary. That maybe we’re cursed, or that God has abandoned us in our grief.
I believe there’s another side to the story.
The truth is, the Bible is full of people who had mental health issues, from anger to depression, and even suicidal thoughts. And in so many cases, from Moses (who struggled with anger) to David (whose struggle with depression is outlined clearly throughout the Psalms), God used those people to do powerful and wonderful things. He gave them weaknesses to help mold their character—so that they could use their perspective to do great and powerful work.
If you’re struggling with mental illness, it’s possible that God is using you, too. The following are five things I believe God wants you to know throughout your journey:
God is for us.
Let’s just get this one out of the way to start. God did not curse us. He does not want us to suffer. Our mental illness is not punishment for past wrongs or bad decisions. In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you—plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Hope. A future. Not pain and despair.
We were built with purpose.
As outlined beautifully by Pastor Rick Warren in the book “The Purpose-driven Life,” God never wastes pain. Your pain—be it bipolar disorder or social anxiety—was gifted to you with great purpose. God believes you are strong enough to beat it, and to help others who may also be struggling. Try accepting your illness as a pathway to greater life purpose. You have no idea how many people you can help when you make it over this side of the mountain.
God does not want us to pretend.
Throughout the Psalms, David throws it down with God. He screams in anguish, and he cries in pain. He does so because he knows the most important thing to God is relationship—not perfection. If you are struggling, God wants to hear your feelings. He wants you to come to him and let him know what you’re experiencing and learning in the process. He wants you to know he is with you at every point in your journey—not just the highs, but the dark and deep lows, too.
God believes in rest and recovery.
God loves you. He doesn’t want your life to be a painful slog. He wants you to rest and recover in the way that suits you best. That might mean medication or counseling, or a spiritual support group like Celebrate Recovery or Hope for Mental Health. God made all of us different, and He knows that we all need different things to survive—and thrive—throughout our life on earth.
God is our partner—not our punisher.
In Romans 8:31, it is written, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The answer: nothing. Not depression, not personality disorder, not anorexia—nothing is stronger than the will of God.
Those of us struggling with mental illness must remember that Jesus himself sought out the broken-hearted. It was his purposes and mission to help us heal our demons—and He made the ultimate sacrifice to help us do it. Yes, mental illness is hard. But we must remember: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” This mountain may feel nearly impossible to climb. But God wants you to know it will be worth the journey.