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Handling Life's Problems

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

“For we are the product of his hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the anointed Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

According to 2017 research by the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.9% of adults in the U.S. have a mental illness. For those of us doing the math, that’s about two out of every ten people. It could be us, someone in our family, our co-worker, or someone we serve with at church. As Christians, how do we deal with mental illness?

Those who haven’t struggled with mental illness can find it hard to understand the depth of pain experienced by those who do. Charles Spurgeon, a great evangelist who suffered from depression, 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.” The pain is real. The struggle can be daunting.

Let’s look at this issue from two sides. First, if you have a mental illness, God’s word points the way to hope:

  • Ephesians 2:10 says God created you with his own hand. Heaven’s poetry is written on your life. No mental health issue can ever change that. God created you deliberately, loves you unfailingly, values who you are, and has a plan for your life. “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I chose you for a special work…” (Isaiah 1:5). You are God’s beloved, the apple of his eye.
  • God is a “wonderful counselor” (Isaiah 9:6) You can talk to God about your mental illness. Many of the Psalms deal with depression, anger, or fear, and can be used as prayers. Remember, no one knows what you are going through better than the one who created you. Feel free to pour out your heart, your emotions, and your pain to God—he understands.
  • Don’t hesitate to get professional help and medication. When a person has a physical illness, they feel no shame about seeing a doctor and taking medicine. If you have a mental illness, you should feel no shame about seeing a professional and taking needed medicine. Jesus himself said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do…” (Mark 2:17).

Second, how should Christians react to people who have a mental illness? Matthew 7:12 says, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” What if it were you? What if it was your son or your daughter? How would you want them to be treated? We treat others as we want to be treated—with kindness, empathy, and grace.

Dear God, I come to you as your beloved child. Thank you for surrounding me in your love and mercy. Help me to remember your faithfulness and to trust in your plan. You have promised that your grace is sufficient, both for my current circumstances and for every day of my future. Bring strength out of my weakness. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
Handling Life's Problems

Ready to Build, Ready to Battle

“Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens loaded themselves so that everyone worked with one hand and held a weapon in the other.” (Nehemiah 4:17)

Have you ever tried to do two things at once? It can be tough. In Nehemiah, the people working on rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem had to be ready at all times to build or to battle.

Their city was in shambles. The wall that should have protected them and their families was nothing but ashes and rubble. They were surrounded and regularly attacked by enemies who would like nothing better than to see them fail or see them destroyed. For generations, no one did anything about the dangerous condition of the walls of Jerusalem. Until Nehemiah showed up.

But what to do first? Build the wall? Or fight the enemy? Spoiler alert: They did both.

They didn’t stop building because there was an enemy. No, in the face of the enemy, they began digging out the rubble. They began setting stone upon stone. And, they didn’t ignore the enemy because they were building. They built, but they also remained constantly ready to battle, weapons in hand. We too must build, and we must also stay ready to battle an enemy attack.

Nehemiah 4:13 says, “I stationed the people to stand guard by families…” Nehemiah assigned the people to work as families. He told them to stop being afraid of the enemy and, instead, to remember the greatness of God. He said, “Fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Nehemiah 4:14). They were building for the safety of their family. They were fighting for the future of their family.

Friend, we’re in the same situation. We’ve got an enemy who would love to see our family fail or be destroyed. We’re building and fighting for the salvation and future of our family. Our family may not look like what we expected. Difficult circumstances may have left our families with broken places that need rebuilt. We may be afraid or discouraged, but we can choose to remember the greatness of God and turn our hearts and hands to doing the work needed to rebuild and fight.

Where we find weaknesses in our ourselves or our family, we rebuild. We listen and pray. We adjust and make changes. We seek counseling. We put down our screens and interact with our family. We read the Bible and we apply what we read to our lives. Rebuilding requires effort. It can be tiring, but the end result is worth the work.

When we encounter attacks from the enemy, we fight. Our weapons are the Word (Ephesians 6:17), our worship (2 Chronicles 20:21), and resistance (James 4:7). Our enemy isn’t our spouse or our children. Our enemy is Satan, who wants to destroy our families. If our family is under spiritual attack, we rely on the Word, worship, and resistance to defeat our enemy.

Here’s some good news: If you fight for your family, God will fight for you! (See Nehemiah 4:20.) That ought to put a spring in your step and confidence in your soul. Friend, don’t give up on your family without a fight. If you fight for your family, God will fight right beside you. You won’t fight alone. God is with you. He loves you. He loves your family. And he promises he will fight for you.

Dear God, thank you for my family. Make me an example of a Godly person to everyone in my family. Give me discernment to see where there are weaknesses in my family and give me strength and wisdom to rebuild. When my family is under attack, give me courage and determination to fight. I give you my family. I give you my life. Let my life lead the next generation to you. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
Handling Life's Problems

Hide It or Handle It?

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17)

Once there was a child with a very messy room. The child’s mother instructed him to clean the room, to put all the dirty clothes in the laundry room, all the toys in the toy box, and to sweep the floor. Soon—too soon—the child came back and told the mother the room was clean.

The mother was surprised to find the room looking neat and in good order. But closer inspection revealed all the clothes, both clean and dirty, shoved under the bed. The toys were pushed in the corner of the closet. Suspecting the worst, the mother picked up the rug and found all the dirt had been swept under it.

You see, the child didn’t want to handle the mess in the room; he just wanted to hide it.

We can fall into a similar situation. Often, we don’t want to deal with the issues in our lives. We also don’t want others to know about them. So, we hide them. We conceal depression, loneliness, or pain behind a smile. We go to great lengths to keep our addictions, guilt, or even thoughts of suicide secret. Instead of handling our issues, we try to hide them.

We may think we’re hiding it well. We may even take pride in how well we hide our issues. But, friend, we can’t hide our issues from God. He already knows all our issues. Nothing is hidden from him, and all the things we think we’re hiding will eventually be brought out into the open.

God doesn’t want us to hide our issues. And he doesn’t want us to handle them alone. He already knows our issues, loves us anyway, and longs to step into our lives and heal the issues we so desperately try to hide.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and him with me.” Jesus is ready and willing right now to enter into your situation. He’s knocking. But he waits for your invitation.

Inviting Jesus into your situation is the beginning of change. Do you really want to keep dealing with those issues in your life? Do you want to be free of the pain, released from the oppression, and healed of the hurt? Would you like to stop pretending you’re OK? The first step is to invite Jesus into your situation.

He’s knocking right now. Will you invite him in?

Jesus, thank you for continuously knocking at the door of my heart. I invite you into my situation right now. I’m tired of pretending I’m OK. I’m tired of hiding what I’m actually feeling in my heart and dealing with in my life. I’m ready for a change. I invite you to step into the middle of my mess and help me move toward healing and wholeness. In Jesus’s name, amen.