I am a follower of Jesus Christ. He is my personal Savior, and He gives me hope and comfort when I am down. In fact, Jesus favored the outcasts, the shamed, and the rejected. If you, like me, suffer from shame and rejection in your depression, have comfort knowing that Jesus was particularly interested in loving people just like us. He cares for you deeply.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my faith in God is part of a holistic treatment plan for my mental health issues. Unfortunately, people have been led (or pushed) away from God when seeking treatment for mental health. You may have turned yourself away from God. Sometimes people move away from God because they do not believe God can (or wants to) heal them. Sometimes, though, people are led to God, but with a misplaced reliance on Him.
While most people find hope and healing from spiritual leaders, there are unfortunate stories of people who were worse off and further away from God after seeking faith-based counseling for mental health struggles. Pastors rarely have the training and resources to effectively address the most serious mental health issues. Even faith-based professional therapists sometimes aren’t effective in spiritual guidance. The stories I’ve heard range from, “if God hasn’t healed you, then you are just not praying hard enough,” to, “mental illness means the person is demon-possessed.” These attitudes result in more feelings of rejection and hopelessness. “Even God thinks I’m not worth healing.”
You’ve probably heard the following story, or at least a variation of it: A man is on the roof of his house and floodwaters are quickly rising. A neighbor comes by in a rowboat and says, “get in!” The man replies, “no thanks, I’ve prayed to God and He will save me.” A short time later a police motorboat approaches. Again, the man refused, saying that he is waiting for God to save him. Then a rescue helicopter approaches and throws down a rope. Once again, the man refuses. Ultimately, he succumbs to the floodwaters and drowns. In Heaven, the man asks God why he didn’t save him. God replied, “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter. What more did you want?”
God can and does work miracles. He can wipe away mental illness in an instant if He so chooses. But He also equips doctors, professional therapists, pastors, and friends to help you in your treatment. He makes medications, recovery programs, and treatment facilities available. You may feel that God hasn’t answered your prayers for healing. Remember, recovery and treatment is a journey. It takes effort, perseverance, and time. Do not believe that you are being punished for a lack of faith or that you aren’t good enough for God’s help.
Like the man on the roof, God helps in many (and often mysterious) ways. If you haven’t taken advantage of the earthly treatment options God provides you, I urge you to seek His guidance. If you have but are doubting God’s hand in your treatment, remember this: God loves you, and His time is not our time. Continue to seek Him. Realize that sometimes we have to face the reality of our illness. But don’t let that deter you – we are not frozen in our current treatment. God can put new people in your life who will support you in your struggles. He can open the door to a new doctor or new therapist. He can start a new church or recovery meeting. Or He may not now, but someday, heal you in an instant.
I know that God plays a part in all of the ways I get treatment for my depression. Take a look again at my post on holistic treatment and imagine how God directs each aspect of my treatment and recovery.
What are the rowboats, motorboats, and helicopters God has sent to you? Have faith and hope knowing that God has not left you. He helps you in more ways than you imagine.