You fell asleep last night after another long day of getting nothing accomplished. You woke up this morning feeling the same way you did last night; not wanting to get out of bed, much less make an appearance in public. You’re sitting at your desk at work minding your own business when suddenly you feel sick. Your stomach is in knots, you feel as though you might vomit. You’re so sick of feeling this way for no apparent reason. You feel great and happy for about 3 hours, but the next 3 are the most miserable you have felt for that day. Do any of these circumstances apply to your daily life? Where is God in this? Why is He allowing this to happen to you and why won’t he do anything about it?
I was openly telling someone about the panic attacks I have at work the other day, when a coworker said, “man, that really sucks.” It occurred to me in that moment that there are people who do not struggle with mental health at all. I couldn’t believe that the thought shocked me. Unfortunately, not everyone around us is going to understand what goes on in our heads, but fortunately, there are enough people that DO struggle with mental illness to prove that it exists, and that we’re not crazy.
Reason #1 why God has allowed this to happen to you: because it happens to other people too. That seems a little silly at first, I know, and kind of unfair, but let’s look at 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (ESV)
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is trying to convey that without suffering, we would not be able to experience God’s comfort. Experiencing God’s comfort helps us show others what God has done in our lives so that they too may believe and ultimately have comfort; resting in the promise of eternal life.
If you’re reading this right now and you are in the darkest spot it feels like you’ve ever been stuck in, these words may just rub you the wrong way. You may feel like you haven’t experienced a single ounce of comfort from God or anyone in your life during this time. I was there, unable to get out of bed and eventually life got better, and I must admit I didn’t fully understand how, but If this is the place you’re in today, all you need to do is take a baby step. Write down the word comfort somewhere to remind you that eventually you can allow yourself to feel comfort. Write the entire passage down in a journal. Get out of bed for just 5 minutes to make a cup of coffee or tea and stare out the window. You can do small things. I believe in you.
Reason #2 God is allowing a mental illness in your life could be to fulfill His ultimate plan for your life. This one is hard to accept at first. It may take years to figure this one out, but remember how I was just talking about baby steps? The same process applies here. I never imagined I’d feel called to write, minister, and speak to girls my age about mental health until one day I woke up from a dream where GADGirls was plastered across my mind and I was aware of the lack of recognition of mental health in the Christian community. Your story is unique, and will be different, but until you get your calling, your passion, and your realization, pray for it eagerly. You don’t have to just sit around while you pray either. Learn to be self-aware. What do you really like and what do you hate? Analyze your personality and your gifts. Write your dreams and goals down. If you can’t bring yourself to write things down quite yet, hold onto your promise of comfort. You’ll get there. I strongly recommend the book You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth if you need help analyzing yourself (it sounds funny, I know).
Reason #3 God is allowing a mental illness in your life is because, sister, you need a wakeup call. This pill may be a bit hard to swallow. Your mental illness is not a punishment, but it may bring you so low, that you have no choice but to run to your Father. You cannot find comfort anywhere else. Sorry, let me rephrase. You cannot find true comfort anywhere else. There are things that numb the pain, like alcohol, parties, drugs, porn, tobacco, but if you find that any of those things brings you comfort I’m gonna need you to send me some of what you’re doing (IM KIDDING), but seriously young lady, it’s time to walk towards your only true source of hope and healing, and that is God, who is in constant pursuit of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
So why does God continue to allow the mental illness in your life? Because he loves you. Because he wants you to love others like He loves you. Because He wants you to want Him back. Because in this world there will be suffering and we were never meant to go it alone.