Christian Living

Four Encouraging Points to Remember When Struggling with Mental Health

Author Jonathan Noyes Published on 05/24/2023

One topic we, as Christians, don’t seem to talk enough about is mental health. I’d like to change that. To start the conversation, here are four encouraging points to offer those who are struggling with mental health. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you have a friend who struggles. Whichever group you’re in, remembering these points could help.

First, remember you are not alone. Mental health issues are more common than many of us would think, especially among students. According to the NIH, one in five American adults lives with a mental illness. The CDC’s 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports that 42 percent of high school students “felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks in a row that they stopped doing their usual activities,” and 22 percent “seriously considered suicide.” In short, a lot of people are wrestling with issues related to mental health. You are not alone!

Just because you’re a Christian, that doesn’t mean you’re immune. God’s people have suffered since the Fall. That suffering can be physical, but it’s also mental and emotional. In Matthew 27:46, even Jesus expressed anguish from the cross when he echoed the psalmist’s lament from Psalm 22:1: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” I mention this to remind you it’s okay to express yourself when you’re struggling.

If you find yourself struggling or have a friend who is, you are certainly not alone. There are many people, even in your own church, who understand what you’re going through. This is why speaking more openly about mental health issues is so important. As we bring them out of the shadows and into the light, we can provide care for one another. Remember what Paul said: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). It’s okay to be weak and admit we need help.

Second, remember you are not to blame. In John 9, Jesus and the disciples walk past a man born blind. The disciples ask Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Do you remember Jesus’ response? He says, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

We live in a fallen world. A world that isn’t as it ought to be. Mental illness is a result of that. However, as with the blind man, mental illness isn’t punishment for your sin. It’s not your fault. Yes, sin can increase levels of depression, anxiety, or any number of other mental health issues. You aren’t defined by your sin, though. This is why it’s important to be able to bring the issue of mental health to the community of God. Where else can the darkness you face be confronted by the light of the gospel? King David said, “The Lord my God illumines my darkness” (Ps. 18:28). Where else can we repent of our sin and be pointed to Christ and our true identity? This brings us to our next encouraging point.

Third, remember who you are. Just as you aren’t defined by your sin, you aren’t defined by your mental illness. Sometimes the way you feel warps your view of reality. Your feelings don’t always tell you what’s true. Regardless of your feelings, let me remind you of who you really are. You are created in the image of God. He calls you by name and is always with you. God said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). He loves you so much, he gave his only son for you. And he uses you in his master plan.

Don’t believe lies about who you are. Jesus says Satan is “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan will lie to you about your identity. In fact, lies and deceptions are Satan’s most potent weapons. Your true identity is found in Jesus, not the lies of Satan. Our fourth and final reminder has to do with one of those lies.

Finally, remember the moment does not define the entire story. Present moments of depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue do not define your whole life. Paul, a man who knew suffering, said, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

Notice two things here. First, Paul reminds us that the circumstances we find ourselves in are momentary. They will pass. During times of struggle, this may not seem true, but it is. As you press on through the issues, things will get better. But there’s more.

The second thing Paul says is that afflictions create something new in us that wouldn’t be there otherwise. In other words, the hard things of life aren’t for naught; they serve a purpose. Ultimately, they are preparing us for eternity.

Later, Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14), pointing us through our trials, through our circumstances, through our loss, and to Jesus Christ and the hope of his cross.

When you find yourself in a time of struggle, press on. God isn’t done using you. In fact, he can use you in the lives of your friends as you encourage them in their struggles. If you have suffered great loss or find yourself in the midst of what seem to be overwhelming trials, press on. These times of trial do not define your whole life. God will redeem you, and he will use you.