© 2020 Chip Kawalsingh / Harvest City Church
‘My soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.’ (Lamentations 3:20-22, NIV)
There’s no doubt that throughout this global lockdown mental health issues will be amplified. Dealing with being caged and how it affects the mind is our own little crisis waging war within. It’s a very real battle for many, and often they suffer in silence out of a fear of being ridiculed for how they feel. I often hear responses like ‘snap out of it’, ‘get a grip’, or even ‘you’ve got so much, why aren’t you grateful?’ spoken by folks who’ve never dealt with the real issues of mental health. As Christians, we should be motivated to care not just for those who are suffering physically, but also those suffering from mental illness. Paul says:
‘If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.’ (1 Corinthians 12:26, ESV)
Even though the word ‘depression’ isn’t in the Bible, God has always helped people whose mood was low. We should be a community of kindness that stands alongside those who are suffering and points to Jesus as the source of hope instead of depending on man. Beware of being man-dependent! Be God-focused.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ (Matthew 5:4, NIV)
What are we to do when faced with these feelings? Here are four pivotal things to help.
1. Worship God
‘He restores my soul…’ (Psalm 23:3, NKJV)
Worship has a way of connecting your soul to God. It opens a window for God to flood your life and saturate your innermost desires with His unending and relentless love. When we truly connect with God in worship it restores our soul!
In the Hebrew Bible, the term for ‘soul’ is nephesh (used 756 times) and it can refer to ‘life’ (Genesis 1:30) or simply the ‘person’ (Deuteronomy 10:22). It can also designate the immaterial part of a human, equivalent to the ‘spirit’ (Genesis 35:18; James 2:26). Some suggest that ‘restore’ (used about 1,060 times in the Old Testament) is used in the sense of ‘refreshing’: the soul (life) is refreshed by God. It is certainly not the physical life that is in view in this text.
‘The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.’ (Psalm 19:7, NIV)
2. Read the Word
Start and end the day with God. Let God’s Word be the first thing you read in the morning. There’s no specific amount of time you should spend reading; just read until you get a word from God that lands in your spirit. It could take 5 minutes or 20 minutes; there’s no time limit. Also, let it be the last thing you read at night. Make it a personal challenge. Knowing that God is right with you will help you to navigate your thoughts and the inner battles of your mind when you’re going through life’s darkest valleys.
‘Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.’ (Psalm 23:4, MSG)
3. Holy Spirit
Our relationship with the Holy Spirit seals the deal of our salvation experience with God. Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Guide. Jesus gave hope that His Father:
‘will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.’ (John 14:16-18, NKJV)
The central truth of the Holy Spirit is found in the phrase ‘I will not leave you as orphans.’ In other words, Jesus is saying: ‘Don’t think for a moment that when I leave you’re going to be on your own. Please don’t allow your hearts to be gripped by fear. I must leave you, but I will not leave you as orphans. I will provide for you.’
Someone once asked me what prayer is. I said, ‘Talking with God’. Their reply was, ‘What, that’s it?’ I saw them a few days later and asked if they’d tried it. ‘Yep!’ they said, ‘It’s so easy!’
The most powerful prayers in the Bible are simple, uncomplicated and evolve out of a daily walk with God (which includes worship and reading the Word). I shudder when someone prays what people call ‘powerful’ prayers. There’s no such thing! I wonder if those prayers are to connect with God or just to impress men? As I always say, we pray to a powerful God. Let the words come from your heart, meaningful and void of human pride.
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14, NLT)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).
God created you and no one will ever know you as Jesus does. His love for you goes way beyond what any human being can provide. Jesus loves you absolutely and you are the apple of His eye. He died on the cross so you may live. That life is called the ‘new creation’—the old has gone and all things have been made new. He doesn’t demand perfection from you, your walk with God is simply based on obedience and sacrifice. Apply these to your life and your journey out of darkness will begin. You will walk in the light, as He is in the light (1 John1:7).
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. (Psalm 94:19, NASB)