We all have times where something we had previously taken for granted is ripped out from underneath us, and a deep empty void of hopelessness results.
Yet, when the thing you’ve taken for granted is your own sound mind, and the reliability of your own thoughts come into question, it can be difficult to find God’s presence.
When I was 16, my mind was overrun by a swarm of darkness that cut and seeped into my perception of the world. This depression I had slumped into leeched all of the happiness, joy, and hope straight out of my very being and left me desperately questioning, “where is Jesus?”
The Bible tells us that God will comfort us when we are downcast (2 Corinthians 7:6, 2 Corinthians 1:4) and that he shares in our suffering. But when you’re in that pit, the truth that Jesus died to set us free might not feel real. It’s often a seemingly impossible effort to read the Bible to remind you of truths at that time.
Praying in those times is also difficult – it feels like prayers fall on deaf ears. However, as I’ve learned throughout my illness, what I feel is not necessarily the truth.
It is important to affirm God’s truths in your life when you pray, especially in sickness. Practically, this won’t look like an in-depth discussion with God – below are some of the ways I’ve prayed in my depression:
The Psalms are full of transparency with God, even in really dire times. Try not to say what you think you should say to please God – He already knows what you’re thinking. Be honest with how you feel.
It may help to write down your prayers, but if you can’t pray with words it may help to use drawings or other art forms.
Try to come up with a phrase that you can repeat over and over. These repeated words could declare what God thinks about you or his character towards you, such as. I am loved and made in the image of God.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that God was with me every step of the way. He was crying with me in my groans of despair; He was putting his arms around me as I locked my heavy head in my hands; He placed the right people with me to say and do the right things at the right time.
I can’t say I felt hugely better in those times because of prayer, but I know that it gave me strength to lean on Him. Now when I start to feel the bitter grip of depression I know that it is important to hold onto truth.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God is good. God loves me.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek help from a medical professional and let a close, trusted friend or family member know.