Recently I was on a social media group when someone asked for help with depression and anxiety. One of the replies was: “Give it to God.”
I have a confession to make: I often expect things to be instant — coffee in a matter of minutes, news at the touch of a button, loved ones a text or a phone call away. Add to that the fact that we live in a world of the instantaneous — toasters, microwaves, and let’s not forget a more recent craze, the Instapot.
While I’m confessing, I’m not proud to say that I often find myself relating to God that way, wanting my problem to be solved now instead of learning what he wants to teach me through the process.
Back to the social media comment. I cringed at that reply. Maybe because I feel for this lady who’s asking for help, maybe because I have dealt with those emotions myself and still do, maybe because I have been prayed countless times and still struggle. Likely, it’s for all of those reasons.
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**But I think at the heart of it all is that I know there’s something deeper, something we don’t seem to talk about much — the journey through, not around or above, our depression or anxiety. **
In case you’re wondering, yes I’ve given it to God, many times. And many times, he has handed it back to me and said, “Here, I want you to learn from it, to grow through it, to depend on me for the answers, instead of demanding an instantaneous rescue.”
So, is going through and not around depression and anxiety biblical? I believe it is, but first I want to acknowledge that I do believe in being healed. Healing is a very important part of being the body of Christ and sometimes it does come instantaneously. Jesus and the apostles healed many people, and that healing power is still possible today. But there is also power in the waiting, in the surrender, in the journey.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the apostle Paul says that he would actually brag about his struggles, because they meant that Jesus could work through him. He had obviously struggled to come to this conclusion, because he writes that Jesus told him that his grace was enough for Paul, because God’s power was shown through weakness and struggles.
God often allows us to go through things so that he can draw us closer to him. The poem, Footprints, illustrates this truth. The author asks Jesus where he was during the darkest times of his life. Jesus replied that the reason the author sometimes saw only one set of footprints was that those were the times he was carrying him. This truth implies a “walking with” journey, and even though this poem is not from the Bible, many passages back up the idea that God walks with us through our trials.
Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 139 details how he sees and knows us even before we are born. Psalm 91 says he is our refuge. Matthew 6:26 tells us that we are loved and cared for by God much, much more than the lilies and the sparrows are, and Ephesians 1 assures us that he has chosen us for a good purpose.
I’m so thankful that God is with us through the journey of depression recovery. I’ve had many days when I just wanted to stay in bed forever, but he, through his Word, gives me purpose. Through his people, he gives me community. Through his presence, he gives me joy. I have experienced his love through a dog licking my face when I was looking for something to hurt myself with, felt his gentle whisper of comfort in my soul when I just didn’t think I could go on, and received an encouraging message from a friend when I felt I was all alone.
Another thing I appreciate about this journey with God is that he understands what we are going through. That’s why he sent Jesus to experience all the pain that we ever have and ever will experience. Through it all, Jesus has been so close.
Finally, God wants us to tell him how we feel when we’re suffering. Job, one of the most righteous people who ever lived, suffered greatly. God welcomed his complaints but showed him that, in the end, he knows best, and ultimately allowed Job to go through this to draw him closer to himself. I must admit that this is something I am still working on. It is sometimes hard for me to tell God all that I am feeling, but when I do, I know he understands.
So back to that comment on social media, yes, you should give it to God, but remember that God is the master at recycling things we toss him and slowly transforming them into something beautiful.
External links: Mental Health Matters A Helpful Guide to Approaching Mental Health Conversations