Our desire for freedom from the illnesses we face is not unnatural. Nor is it unnatural to ask God for the shackles to be broken. The quiet prayers at night usher in a longing for another world; a longing that God infused within our hearts.
“I wish the Ring had never come to me,” said Frodo. “I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf responded, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
The Lord of the Rings are my favorite movies of all time. Maybe it’s because of the close biblical parallels and the powerful story-telling of good conquering evil. In the quote above, Frodo has already charged himself to be the bearer of a powerful and dangerous ring. Here he comes to a halfway point in his perilous journey to take it to the one place it can be destroyed. In this private hour, he realizes the suffering and responsibility which he has been bearing on his shoulders. As Frodo raises up his regrets, Gandalf, the great wizard, doesn’t dismiss it but accompanies the sorrow along with him and speaks to his restless heart with a modest but powerful statement.
These movies come to mind as our world is seized with this spreading virus. For many, anxiety comes to surface when aisle after aisle in the grocery store are ransacked. A suspicious look is given from stranger to stranger, suspecting the worst of their health and the reason they bring themselves outdoors. Weddings, baby showers, birthdays, celebrations all getting canceled. Even preparing funerals of loved ones must look different. Shops close down, health workers’ hours are bumped up, parents try to get creative with schooling, people can’t work and therefore lose money, and many must bear an unhealthy amount of hours in their homes. I believe I am not the only one who has found myself analyzing this current moment and anticipating that this new normal is going to be overwhelming to bear for so long. Depression can creep into the darkness of being indoors all the time. Secret sin becomes a greater temptation in order to get a quick fix and seemingly control some part of our life. Shame, guilt, and loneliness take root for some.
I am not a counselor, but I’ve experienced the sweetness of counseling while marrying it with the Gospel and the promises of Christ. I’ve also experienced towering anxiety and parts of depression throughout my lifetime. My hope in this blog is that you know you are not alone and that you can see that Jesus engages our solitude with intimacy, even as you tread through the depths of your mind amidst an isolated world.
It is incredibly easy to recluse during all this. Binging Netflix all day and looking at your phone for something new. I would encourage you to check out the blog posts coming out in the next few weeks from people I highly respect. Even some of the blog posts that are already out! They will hit a number of important practicals. Give yourself grace as you work through your health throughout these days.
There are many biblical figures who are no stranger to the feelings of deep despair, loneliness, depression and just about everything else under the sun. David (Psalms 38:4-8), Elijah (1 Kings 19:3-4), Jonah (Jonah 4:1-3) and many others. We know full well that being a Christian does not exempt us from any of the sins of the world or the mental illnesses that could come. Some believers could face this battle for the rest of their life. Does Jesus allow some to have victory over this? Yes. Does it mean He loves those people more? No. We are put on this earth for the glorification of Christ, which means whatever battles we face, in our story; it is there as an unrelenting reminder that we are in need of a Savior and that we have an opportunity to glorify Christ, even more so amidst the sorrow of our circumstance. Is it easy to do this? Not often. Yet Jesus remains close to us. He doesn’t wince when we lay our thoughts and shame before Him. As a matter of fact, He tenderly invites us in and desires to hear from us as we traverse through our brokenness. Even the brokenness that seems shameful and guilt ridden. Engrave Romans 5:6-11 in your mind. Remember that Christ’s death and resurrection gives us courage for all the trials, and grace for all the joys.
Our desire for freedom from the illnesses we face is not unnatural. Nor is it unnatural to ask God for the shackles to be broken. The quiet prayers at night usher in a longing for another world; a longing that God infused within our hearts. Although we are bound by our limited view, we can rest in the promises of the King. That God would send His Son who joyfully and willingly condescended to us. Dying a brutal death and being raised back to life; so that payment for our sins would be fulfilled. Giving us access to eternal life with a marvelously personal God. Brothers and sisters, we do not deserve an ending like this, yet it has been granted to us if we so choose it.
Let us not turn a blind eye to those who are harassed by the griefs of the mind. We must not assume that Christians who have mental health conditions are unspiritual, faithless or soft.
For Christ followers who wrestle with this; we can often become encapsulated with nameless anxiety, or feel useless and numb to our emotions. How easy it is to forget that Christ loves our shattered needy souls. Matthew 11:28-30 and Psalm 23 are beautiful passages to read and meditate on as the battle of mental health begins to rage right now.
Remember, we serve a benevolent King, a great Physician, a Man of Sorrows, and a dear friend. He weeps and laments along with us even in His power, and simultaneously woos us into His presence to remain with Him and place the burdens of our minds before Him.
Take courage, dear heart.