Mental health issues today seem to be as easy to catch as the common cold. We are living in this deeply sad reality of a broken world, where our even own minds cause us harm.
2020 in particular has seen a rise in the level of mental health related problems in people. Trials, uncertainty and pain take their toll.
‘I don’t think I can cope with much more’
Covid-19 is not going away any time soon. If that makes you feel a drowning sense of dread, then I’m sorry and I hope you know that you are probably not alone in feeling that. One year seems like too long. But we can look back to a time when a national trial lasted a lot longer, to find some encouragement…
WW2 lasted 6 years. As much as we can learn from this season, there was an exile that lasted 40. In the bible we read time and time again about the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt and walking for 40 years through a desert to reach their promised land. 40 years!
I certainly do not have the mental capacity to live in an unknown state of wandering dependancy for a year, never mind 40.
Spolier: they make it! However things aren’t perfect and the Israelites struggle time and time again. They get disheartened. They do bad things. They find themselves fighting wars. At one point, they end up exiled and by this point, they pretty much come to the conclusion that God isn’t good. They conclude that God has neglected them.
Life wasn’t wasn’t meant to be like this. We live in a broken world, where there is broken hope, broken bodies, and broken desires. So we struggle. But God is loving. He doesn’t promise that everything will be easy. But he does promise to be with us, to give us what we need to get through today, and to lead us in caring for our well-being.
God doesn’t neglect:
In this particular exile (midway through the book of Isaiah) it was easy to struggle mentally to the point at which the Israelites feel abandoned. The Israelites weren’t looking to God and had got lost in ‘broken desires,’ attempting to find satisfaction in other things, including other gods and cultural worship. When they walk through the exile, they assume that God just doesn’t love them anymore and instead is pointing the finger for their brokenness.
God doesn’t point the finger. Instead He leads them out of the exile, but firstly he speaks to them:
‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.‘ Isaiah 43:1-2
God promises not a lack of trial, but his faithful presence amongst them all. He doesn’t neglect when fires, seas, wars, Covid or grief rise. That’s just not part of his character. God is a loyal friend and father, always with us, giving comfort. He is with you in your mental and emotional struggles today.
God speaks about well-being:
A bit later on in this season, God speaks again and this time it’s about well-being. He speaks about peace.
We could all use some peace – whether we are struggling mentally or not.
God reminds us that he created the whole earth. He is the creator, and we therefore are his creation; we are a subservient, dependent creation, existing in him. We are weak yet He is strong.
We come to God in our vulnerable, weak, struggling manner and God expects nothing more – He embraces that! Living in this dependency leads us to trust in God’s higher understanding and God promises to lead us: ‘I am the lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you and directs you in the way you should go.’ Isaiah 48:17
Wouldn’t we all love a personal life councillor, planner, advisor, and ‘parent’ to tell us what to do? To tell us what decisions to make? Well, in God, we can have just that!
If we come to God with our vulnerbility and mess, He embraces us and directs us. And then, if we actually follow as He leads and nudges us to make gradual good steps, then we can attain peace and good well-being! In fact, God tells the Israelites, ‘You didn’t do what I instructed you to do, or obey me. If you had, you could have had peace like a river and well-being like waves of the sea.’ (Isaiah 48:18 paraphrased)
God has not neglected you. If the water is up to your neck, God promises not to give you anything that you can’t overcome – it won’t come over your head. In it, He is with you and his loving presence will comfort you.
You won’t understand why you’re struggling and that’s ok. But God is inviting you to call out to him again, to rest in his loving arms, and to listen to his small voice leading you. He wishes to use people, things, and situations to gently lead you along the right path and to make the right decisions.
One day, this broken world will be renewed. But until then, God is the provider of good well-being. That doesn’t mean that you don’t seek practical help – God often uses people, medication, sleep, exercise, therapy to help his people. But it does mean that you know He hasn’t neglected you.
I hope this brings you some encouragement whatever struggles you’re facing.
You’re not alone. Try praying if you don’t already. God is love and He will lead you on a journey towards good well-being. The mental health issues won’t go away overnight but I promise that in the midst of them, you will grow to know a deep comfort and peace within as you battle with your mind.
If you’d like to chat, then fill in a contact form here. All is kept confidential. Unfortunately, anonymous responses can’t be replied to, but I will be thinking and praying for you.