If you have been a follower of Common Ground Blog over the past year, then you know that Ana, Molly, and I have not strayed from being vulnerable. We have shared our own struggles with anxiety, seasons of depression, EDNOS, and loss. Our hope through it all is that you will first and foremost see Jesus in our writing and be encouraged by the truth that we have learned and shared.
September is Suicide Prevention Month and last week in particular was Suicide Prevention week. For those following Christian and Church news, it has been a time marked with sadness as we mourned the death of Pastor Jarrid Wilson, founder of Anthem of Hope ministries, and outspoken mental health advocate.
His shocking death came hours after this profound tweet:
“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort He ALWAYS does that.”
– Jarrid Wilson, Twitter, September 9th, 2019
Jarrid Wilson was a man who wrestled with the darkness of anxiety and depression, knew the truth of God’s love, and yet, was overcome by his pain. It is a sad story, but one all too familiar for many of us. As Believers, how do we respond? As the Church, how do we respond? What is our responsibility in supporting those who are broken? How do we help to erase the stigma surrounding mental health so that more people feel able to open up? I think Ann Voskamp sums it up best:
“We’re the people who say: “There’s no shame saying that your heart and head are broken because there’s a Doctor in the house. It’s the wisest and the bravest who cry for help when lost. There’s no stigma in saying you’re sick because there’s a wounded Healer who uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and medicine to make miracles. There’s no guilt in mental illness because depression is a kind of cancer that attacks the mind. You don’t shame cancer, you treat cancer. You don’t treat those with hurting insides as less than. You get them the most treatment.”
If you have never been told these things before, then read it again. There is no shame in your brokenness. There is no condemnation in your mental health struggles. You are not a bad Christian because your anxiety spirals out of control or because you cannot find a way out of your eating disorder.
Jesus STILL loves you and STILL walks through the fire with you.
Throughout Scripture we see instances of prophets, leaders, and servants of the Lord who struggled with immeasurable mental pain. Just look at Job! The main was in deep grief and distress! He longed for his life to be over and yet in his pain, Job knew the presence of the Lord was with him (Job 1:21, 5:8-9, 17-18).
Have you read the book of Lamentations? It is heartbreaking! Jeremiah details the great distress and trauma experienced by the people of Israel. But, in the pain, Jeremiah encourages us to meet God in the midst of our suffering and pain, knowing that he is a God of steadfast love, great in faithfulness, and with mercies new every morning (Lamentations 3:21-24).
Jonah lived on the run, afraid to confront God because of the impending consequences of his sin. He was sure death was better for him than the correction the Lord would offer.
Paul had a thorn in his side. No one knows for sure what it was, but it was an ever present burden to him. He begged God to remove it, but God would not. However, Paul knew that even in his brokenness, he was not cast aside from the love of God and that he had the opportunity to bring further glory to the name of Jesus in spite of it.
Greg Laurie, the lead pastor at Wilson’s church, shared after his death,
“We can have times of depression, we can have times where we’re sad, and it doesn’t mean our faith is gone or we’re a failure as believers. It means we’re hopelessly human and we constantly need Christ.”
I do not know what you are experiencing right now. I do not know of the highs and lows of your day and the pain that was weaved throughout. I do not know the intensity of the fire that you are in or how unfixable you might feel.
But I do know one thing: Jesus ALWAYS offers companionship and comfort.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
If you let Him, his peace will guard you heart and mind and His love will exceed your wildest expectations.
“…weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5b
For more from CGB about mental health, our personal struggles, and the immeasurable love of God:
The American Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)