October 27, 2020

The Gospel and Mental Health: Brokenness

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

Rom. 8:22

Everyone seems to have it together. That’s the impression we get as we scroll through social media anyway. We see people’s happy faces with their content lives and conclude they are living their best life now. The same is true in church. We think: No one struggles. The Christian is the person who has life sorted.

Life is a Battle

However, let me be clear that every one of us struggles. Every one of us battles with our mental health. Some of us more than others, to be sure, but we all battle.

In the church, there are those who struggle with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Some of us struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Some of us struggle to function for days on end. Some of us are on medication. Some of us struggle with darkness day after day.

The question you might ask is: Why do I struggle in this way? Why is it that my mental health is so up and down? Is this normal for a Christian? Am I the only one?

Well, I’m not going to answer all these questions here, but let me start off with this truth: We struggle with mental health because we live in a broken world. That’s the simple yet profound truth that Romans 8:22 teaches us—“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Our minds groan because the world groans. Everything in this world has been affected by the Fall—my mind and yours included.

Bring Your Burdens

Now, there are other factors that can contribute to our mental wellbeing, like chemical imbalance, sin, Satan, and our circumstances, to name a few. But it’s important for you to know that mental health problems, at root, are a result of the Fall. Let me say it again: The world is broken and so are we—mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Therefore, struggling with mental health doesn’t mean you are abnormal. It doesn’t mean that you are a sub-standard Christian. It doesn’t (necessarily) mean you are in sin. In fact, when we are broken and struggling, we are in the best place to receive grace from God. It’s not easy when we struggle mentally, but it helps us to see that we haven’t got it all together. We can—indeed, we must—turn to the Lord for help.

The great news is, Jesus invites us to do just that:

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matt. 11:28–29

And so if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other mental ailment, know today that the Lord loves and cares for you. In Christ, He is with you and He is for you. Chris Cipollone writes:

When we are down and out, in need of healing, the word Jesus brings us in his Spirit resounds most loudly. We are loved by God, as seen most clearly in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. This is our gospel identity - not that we are wealthy, successful, capable, or esteemed. Our identity is that we are loved and accepted, and in our moments of deepest darkness, love and acceptance is what we crave.

This is the first in a series of articles looking at how the gospel applies to various mental health issues. Look out for more in the coming weeks.

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