January 29 2020.
Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. It is a day in an awareness campaign to bring attention to mental health. With the campaign starting in 2010, its goal was to raise awareness and funding to create a stigma-free Canada and drive action in mental health care, research and in the workplace. In those ten years, the campaign has raised over $100 million to mental health in Canada.
Having gone through bouts of depression and some anxiety myself, I know, somewhat, how damaging failing mental health can be to a person. Seeing family shut down, friends struggle to keep going and family friends lose loved ones because of it, it is an important topic of the day. With more and more people being diagnosed with some type of mental health issues, the stigma seems to be breaking around the topic. This is a good thing. However, many would say there is still much more work to be done on the subject.
The question we must ask is how does the gospel speak into the area of mental health? Can you have a therapist and Jesus too? The answer to this second question is yes. The gospel tells us that we were alienated from God without hope and without God before we come to know Jesus. In some lives, that state leads people to brokenness in their mental health. Coming to Jesus, we are given a new identity, but sometimes our habits and past desires, (what the bible calls our flesh), will try to creep in and drag us back to our old way of life. So, in these cases, a therapist, a counsellor, a coach or even a godly friend/mentor may be helpful in reminding ourselves of our biblical truths when we have a hard time preaching them to ourselves and living in our new identity.
Once coming to know Jesus, we aren’t automatically lifted up out of the world. We live in a broken world, in broken bodies and relationships. Living in this state can cause harm to our mental health even though we are under the care of Jesus. Just because we struggle doesn’t mean God is not working in our lives. God may allow us to go through these struggles for many different reasons. In these struggles, the bible says,
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For these things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:10.
I do not know why you are going through your mental health struggles. I don’t know why I had to go through mine. But I trust God when he says, it isn’t meaningless! My struggle, though large and, at times, insurmountable to me, is light and momentary (compared to eternity) and is preparing me for an eternal weight of glory.
A story I once heard was of two brothers who were chain smokers coming to Jesus. One submitted his life to Jesus, prayed for the breaking of his smoking habit and he was free from it. Never smoked again. The other brother did the same, but struggled every day with not smoking. One did not have to go through that struggle. The other did and our God says, it was preparing him an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Friends, let us come to Jesus. And I pray for healing over your brokenness. I pray for suicidal thoughts to be removed from you as far as the east is from the west. I pray for your anxiety to be quelled and silenced. I pray for strength and energy when all you desire to do is lay in bed for the day. I pray you find the right medication that balances your emotional state.
I pray you remember the gospel in your day to day lives and in the moments of despair and darkness may the light of Christ enlighten your hearts and speak to you. May you hear Jesus tell you that he loved you so much, he died for you on the cross. I pray you hear him say, my grace is sufficient for you. I urge you to tune your ear to hear the Jesus say, I am the vine and you are the branches, abide in me.
For those of you who do not struggle with mental health and you’re wondering as participants in the church, how you can help, here’s three things I found that would be helpful.
- Acknowledge some around you may struggle with mental health and be open to talking about it. Be approachable.
- Make it a prayer item in your life. Pray for those you know who struggle with mental health
- Join a suicide awareness walk. Suicide Awareness Day is September 10th mark it down on your calendar.
There is much more one can say about the subject. It’s vast and wide. Let’s start here for now. But let’s continue the conversation.