Mercy For Those Struggling With Their Faith
Bible Verses About Having Strength During Hard Times
A week or so ago I put together a massive post with well over a hundred bible verses about money and talked about how we need to make sure that we always put God first in our lives before money – and everything else.
We can easily allow money to become our master, and God can quickly move to the background if we’re not careful.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24
One thing that occurred to me in the midst of listing all those verses, however, is that I never really touched on a topic that seems to be especially important right now in the midst of a double dip recession when so many people are having a hard time. The idea of looking to God for strength in the midst of hard times.
Bible Verses About Strength
Today I decided to bring together some encouraging and challenging verses talking about how and where we need to find strength in the midst of turbulent times. I hope you find them uplifting as well.
Where Do We Find Strength?
Where do we find our strength? In the Lord our God!
Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.
Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
Psalm 9:9-10 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psalm 34:10b Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Isaiah 26: 3-4 Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.
1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 32:7-8 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Exodus 33:14 My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.
Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Psalm 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.
Isaiah 30:15 In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.
Don’t Worry Or Fear, Find Your Strength In Him
It can be so easy to give into worry, fear and despair, but with Him we can find strength, and look forward to wonderful things. He gives us hope!
Isaiah 43:1-3 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Luke 12:25-26 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Philippians 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 27: 1-3 The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me,it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;though war break out against me,even then I will be confident.
Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Psalm 145: 18-19 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Isaiah 12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
God Gives Us A Spirit Of Strength And Power
Through faith in Christ we are given a spirit of power, love and discipline, and for that reason we have nothing to fear. We can hold onto his promises and be confident that he’ll see us through even the darkest of days.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
Psalm 138:3 When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
Psalm 16:8 I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 112: 1, 7-8 Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid.
Psalm 91:1-2 You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.”
Psalm 112: 1, 7-8 Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid.
Hard Times May Come, But He’s There With Us Through Them All
Though we aren’t promised an easy life, we are told that Christ will be there with us when we believe in Him, that he won’t give us more than we can handle with His help, and even our hard times can be used to glorify God.
2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Philippians 4: 12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
1 Peter 5: 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Hebrews 4:16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Deuteronomy 31:6,8 Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.
Strength In Christ Our Lord And Savior
As the verses above illustrate, we’re told to call on Jesus Christ, and that he will hear us and give us strength, hope and a grace sufficient to carry us through. He will be our ever present help when we’re in need, and he can give us a peace that passes all understanding. For me that’s extremely encouraging.
How about you? Do you have any favorite bible verses about strength, and where you can find it? Did one of the verses above stick out more than the others for you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
Want to find more verses on Strength in the Bible and don’t have your own? Get a free Bible.
Struggling with Faith: What to Do When Your Kids Start Questioning Faith
Is your teen struggling with faith?
Or are you, perhaps?
It’s definitely not an easy topic or one taken lightly.
Most adults, if they’re going to be honest, will admit to going through periods in their life where they questioned what they believed.
I recently chatted with Mark Gregston, co-founder of heartlight ministries and host of the Parenting Today’s Teens radio show.
He shared a few of his insights into what parents can do if they find their kids or themselves struggling with faith.
Recognize that Struggling with Faith is Normal
“I think it’s okay for them to struggle somewhat. I think this is what’s happening with kids today and their own faith it looks a little bit different than it did when you and I grew up. I mean, you grew up at a time that it was more expressive…
They are now saying that in today’s culture, if somebody attends church 17 times a year, that they would consider them a regular. Well, I tell you what, when I grew up, it had to be that you were at church 52 times, at least once a week, to be considered a regular attendee…
Parents, all the time your kid is growing up in a different environment….
I think the struggle is not necessarily bad. I think during those adolescent years, as opposed to the earlier years or ages 1 through 12 where you teach a child, now you’re training the child and you have the opportunity to help a child embrace their faith.
Not your faith.
Where they can come to a conclusion about what they’ve been taught the first 12 years of their life and make decisions based upon what they long for in their life and their relationship with Christ. And it just looks different. It means they wrestled more.
There’s more information.They don’t understand about, ‘Okay, well what about this gay thing that the church is yelling and screaming about, what is it? Where does marijuana fit into this thing? What about women in the church?’
You look at all these issues that were pretty much black and white. Because we lived in a world where you didn’t challenge everything.
Well, now they live in a world where you do challenge things.”
Switch from Teaching to Training
“The greatest point of encouragement that I’d give to families [is that] your role as a parent during the adolescent years is to help them put actions to what they’ve learned. You can keep teaching and teaching and teaching during the early years, ages 1 through 12.
But when they are 13, 14 years old, now your job is to train them so that when they’re older they won’t depart from what you’ve taught them. But the problem is people keep teaching, and if you are… you’re going to fail as a parent because what that child wants is training.
They want to know, not just information, but the wisdom of application of scripture, and ‘how do I apply [it], where is this relevant in my life? How does it fit?’
And so it means that you have to share, as a parent, more wisdom than information.
You have to start training rather than just teaching and that means you let them make some decisions instead of you making decisions.
You let them become responsible for their life instead of you always being the one that is doing everything for them. You quit having lectures, and you start having discussion.
You quit telling them everything and you start sharing things. You quit giving them all the answers, but now you’re the one that’s asking questions.
And it means that this shift in a parenting style that says ‘my role during the adolescent years is to help take all those seeds that have been planted in their life and during the adolescent years I’m going to cultivate that, which means I turn the soil.
Let them observe what it’s to be a man or a woman of God. I let them reflect on things that are important… I also give them opportunities for experience, where it’s not just me telling them things, but it’s me showing them things and saying, ‘okay, this is how you treat people, this how you love people. This is what Grace looks . This is what forgiveness looks .’I think our kids are dying to see the examples before them, rather than performance or more teaching. They’re wanting to see examples, they’re wanting to connect in a world where they haven’t been connecting with one another. They want to engage in such a way that they see the validity… of why they are needing to engage this faith that they have in the world that they live in.
It’s quite the challenge for parents because it’s a little bit different. I mean the internet has taken everybody by surprise, but I think it’s important for parents to make that transition into sharing not only information, but wisdom that they’ve gained through observation, through reflection, and through their own experience.”
Admit to Not Having All the Answers
“I tell kids all the time when they say, ‘I’m confused about how scriptures applied to the homosexual.’
I go, ‘you know what? I’m confused as well.’
I have a little bit of difficulty in trying to figure out how to take what I believe to be true and apply it to a world that has shifted so much and by saying that to a child what I’m telling them it’s okay to struggle through this.
It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to maybe realize that you don’t have to have all the answers all the time that there are arenas that we don’t know…
We don’t know everything and I think when we try to come across that we do know everything, then we’re a know-it-all.
And that’s what they deal with all the time on the internet, just a bunch of know-it-alls.
I’m going I want to give kids permission to wrestle through and struggle through things because I find in the long run, when they wrestle through it, then they come to a conclusion about what they believe and they come to a conclusion about how to apply what they know to be true to the world that they live in, rather than what I know will be true in a world that I’d for them to live in. And there’s a distinct difference between those two.”
Love Them No Matter What
“I’m not so sure we were told the truth in the past, and I’m not so sure how I’m supposed to engage, but I know this: I’m supposed to be loving people and that’s my goal. Whether they’re gay or what I don’t care. That’s their deal.
Now as a teen, I’m going to help them through that and walk through it with them and spend some time discussing, but you know what? By the time they’re 15 or 16, they don’t answer to me any longer, they answer to God and so my role is to maintain the relationship, offer them sound advice and great wisdom and help them through their process. And if they’re choosing to live a lifestyle different from what I would choose for them, then my role is to continue to love them no matter what, letting them know there’s nothing you can do to make me love you more, and there’s nothing you can do to make me love you less…
I tell parents this all the time, you’ve got to love your child more than you hate their behavior… because that’s the way that they will see who this God is and who Christ is as we become to them who God has become to us.”
Summary: Children Struggling with Faith
So remember, as Mark said, your teen questioning their faith is completely normal and even expected in today’s world.
There are, however, some things you can do to help them during what could be a challenging time:
- Switch from Teaching to Training
- Admit to Not Having All the Answers
- Love Them No Matter What
Have you teens struggled with their faith?
What advice did you give them and does this advice from Mark Gregston resonate with you?
Let us know in the comments below!
4 Bible Stories About People Facing Struggles or Trials
How many of us can identify with those who struggled with their faith during a trial in the Bible? Here are 4 such stories about people who faced great struggles and trials.
Job and His Friends
Who can say that they have suffered more than Job did? Not anyone that I know of. God allowed Satan to buffet Job to such a degree that he started to despair even of life and the day of his birth but don’t be too hard on Job.
His friends accused him of sin, his wife told him to curse God and die and Job never did find out the reason why God allowed him to suffer so much loss. He lost his children, his wealth, his health, his crops, his livestock and even the relationship of his wife and best friends who turned on him and accused of him of suffering because of his sins.
Job felt He was God’s enemy due to his suffering (Job 13:23-24) and started complaining to God about his condition (23:3-4). Make no mistake about it, Job really struggled with his suffering, saying “I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.I say to God: Do not declare me guilty, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked” (Job 10:1-4)? Have you felt this too? Have you asked these same questions? If so, you are not alone. God understands.
He knows our frame and that we are all frail, feeble, and weak, made of dust (Psalm 103:14). It’s okay to question God and to doubt Him but we don’t need to stay there. After God answered Job (Job 38, 39), he repented and was humbled before God (Job 42).
David’s Plight and Flight
Even after David had been anointed king and chosen by God, he still had to run for his life. Some scholars believe he had to run for his life from the wicked King Saul from between 7 and 10 years.
David grew frustrated from his constant running and hiding, having to live in caves and always in hiding, subsisting often on only what his men could find or what was given them by those loyal to him. Imagine yourself as being in David’s place. God has chosen you to be the next king of Israel. You had been anointed king already.
Time and again you had the chance to take Saul’s life but didn’t. He was chasing you continually, wanting to kill you. What would you say to God? What would you be thinking? Wouldn’t you question God or ask “Why are you allowing this God since you have already chosen me as king?” I know for sure that I would.
Saul had a desire to kill David even before he was chosen by God to be king (1 Sam 19:10). Saul was so angry that he even threw a spear at his own son Jonathan because of David (1 Sam 20:33) and even God’s priests were murdered because of Saul’s fierce anger. All of his anger was not justified.
David was innocent but Saul kept relentlessly pursuing him, trying to put him to death (1 Sam 23). David cried ten to God as in Psalm 142:1-2 “With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.
” There is consolation in the fact that even King David poured out his heart and complaints before God but he didn’t stay there for long. In nearly every psalm where David pours out his heart during his pain, grief, trials, and struggles but he still concludes the psalm with praising God and giving Him glory.
Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet
Jeremiah was called by God around 626 B.C. and was one of the most tenderhearted prophets that Israel ever had. His heart broke for the nation who refused to listen to God’s Words given through him. They rejected every single word of his prophecies and listened to those who gave good news, even though it turned out to be false (Jer 43).
Jeremiah knew that these false prophets were only saying what the people wanted to hear, much the modern, watered-down gospel that is being preached from behind many pulpits today. Jeremiah’s mission was to turn the nation of Judah toward repentance and to rid the nation of idolatry which had spread throughout the land.
Sadly, God had already told Jeremiah that the people wouldn’t listen to him and would be sent into captivity (Jer 7:27; 14:12). There was nothing that Jeremiah could do to persuade the people and this made Jeremiah lament even more over the nation’s rebellion toward God.There was no shortage of naysayers lined up against Jeremiah and his life was sought after frequently (Jer 11:21-23) and more than once they tried to stone him to death (Lam 3:53).
Jeremiah was grieved over the persecution that his prophecies caused and he became a laughingstock and the target of frequent mocking (Jer 20:7) but he knew that he couldn’t keep God’s words to himself (Jer 20:9,) even if it meant long-term imprisonment (Jer 37:16).
Once “they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud” (Jer 38:6). If anyone faced a hopeless struggle, it was Jeremiah, but even though he faced such a trial, he knew God would deliver him someday and knew that He would prosper him and this gave him hope (Jer 29:11).
How many of us would have done the exact same thing as Peter did when he denied Christ 3 times during Jesus’ trial? I know that I would have. Just prior to this, Peter had been bragging how he would never deny Jesus (Mark 14:26-31) but pride always comes before a fall (Prov 16:18). Peter did deny Jesus…not once, not twice, but three times (Mark 14:66-72).
After Peter denied the Lord the third time “he broke down and wept” (Mark 14:72c). One wonders if Peter thought he had committed a sin that wasn’t forgivable. He did just what he stated he would never do. When I read Scriptures I believe we should not say “Wow, look how terrible that was” but instead say, “How am I that?” or “I would have ly done the same thing.
” It appears that Peter decided he was unworthy and went back to his old way of life saying “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you” (John 21:3) but it wasn’t only Peter that did…all of them went back with him.
But the good news was that Peter was restored by the merciful Jesus (John 21:15-19) and so were the other disciples who had abandoned Him at the trial.
Many of us struggle with our faith, suffering from severe trials, but there is no faith worth having that has not been tested by fire and I have denied Christ before by my own silence when given the opportunity to witness for Him.
I have been Peter that, by my silence, I denied the Lord before others and him, I wept over my sin of omission. It is my prayer that your struggles will not destroy your faith but instead will strengthen it.
A faith that is being refined becomes more precious than gold because it lasts.
Listen to what Peter says and he certainly knows from experience; “the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:7). And Peter knows what he’s talking about.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look : A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas.
Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon
For Those Struggling with Mental Illness: 4 Messages from Church Leaders You Need to Hear
One in four people worldwide will be affected by mental illness or neurological disorders at one point in their lives.
And right now, about 450 million people worldwide suffer from the often crippling effects of mental illness regardless of race, socio-economic class, gender, education level, occupation, or religion.
With so many suffering from the wide effects of mental illness, the topic has been addressed by prophets and general authorities.
As the rate of mental illness among everyone, including Church members, continues to grow, the words of Church leaders offer comfort and guidance for those experiencing various forms of mental illness.
Here are few things Church leaders have said about mental illness and those who experience it.
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1. Overcoming mental illness is not a matter of “positive thinking” and “squaring your shoulders.”
In his October 2013 talk ” a Broken Vessel,” Elder Holland addresses the persistent but often incorrect idea that overcoming mental illnesses depression or anxiety is a matter of “squaring your shoulders” and “think[ing] more positively”.
Though these tactics certainly are useful for the occasional bouts of discouragement and sadness everyone feels from time to time, mental illnesses anxiety and depression are not the same thing and should not be treated as such.
As Elder Holland said: “I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively—though I am a vigorous advocate of square shoulders and positive thinking!”No, this dark night of the mind and spirit is more than mere discouragement” (Jeffrey R. Holland, ” a Broken Vessel”).As Elder Holland says in his talk, mental illness is as real as other medical conditions high blood pressure or a malignant tumor.
Though peace, comfort, and strength can be found in priesthood blessings, seeking counsel from others, reading the scriptures, and praying, it is important to also seek help from certified professionals if the symptoms of mental illness persist.
Elder Holland continues:”If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe.
If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation” (Jeffrey R. Holland, ” a Broken Vessel”).
2. God still loves you and you are never alone.
The effects of mental illness often leave its victims in a fog, unable to think clearly or be the kind of person they used to be. This can be a lonely, frustrating experience that can make members wonder if they are still worthy of Heavenly Father's love.
In his October 2013 general conference talk “We Never Walk Alone,” President Thomas S. Monson shares the power of Heavenly Father's love we can experience even while going through the trials of mental illness. “My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes.
It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love.
It is simply always there” (Thoms S. Monson, “We Never Walk Alone”).
After President Dallin H. Oaks's father passed away and he was sent to live with his grandparents while his mother went to school, President Oaks shared his experience with mental illness.
During this difficult time, which was also especially hard on President Oaks's mother, he described the heavenly help that came in a dark time for his family. “The death of my father and my mother's going away so soon were difficult experiences for me. When I was about 9 years old, I remember thinking there was nobody in the world as unhappy as I was.
“For my mother, the loss of her husband and then the separation from her three children within a two month period were too much, and mother suffered a nervous breakdown. She was told she would never recover. But through the blessings of the Lord, she did recover and she was stronger than ever” (Dallin H. Oaks, “LDS Leaders and Mental Illness,” Mormon Channel).
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In his October 2015 general conference address, President Oaks also shares how members with mental illness are never alone because of the Savior's Atonement in which he experienced all our earthly afflictions, including mental illness. “At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus explained that He was sent 'to heal the brokenhearted' (Luke 4:18).
The Bible often tells us of His healing people 'of their infirmities' (Luke 5:15; 7:21). The Book of Mormon records His healing those 'that were afflicted in any manner' (3 Nephi 17:9).The Gospel of Matthew explains that Jesus healed the people 'that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses' (Matthew 8:17).”Isaiah taught that the Messiah would bear our 'griefs' and our 'sorrows' (Isaiah 53:4).
Isaiah also taught of His strengthening us: 'Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee'” (Isaiah 41:10) (Dallin H. Oaks, “Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ”).
3. You are more than your mental illness
President George Albert Smith, the eighth prophet of the Church, struggled with anxiety and depression.
One of President Smith's grandsons, George Albert Smith the fifth, said his grandfather “struggled with depression, feeling incompetent, and being overwhelmed. There were times when 'he just could not pull it all together,'” according to Mormon Channel.
Despite these enormous challenges, President Smith was a “universally beloved” prophet and “one of the most gentle and Christ men of our dispensation” as Elder Holland described in his talk.
“Let us remember that through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for. We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions!” (Jeffrey R.
Holland, ” a Broken Vessel”).
In his October 2013 general conference talk, Elder Holland shared his own experience with mental illness. Despite the challenges and trials that come with mental illness, Elder Holland shares the help he received from God and loved ones that helped him overcome debilitating symptoms.
“At one point in our married life when financial fears collided with staggering fatigue, I took a psychic blow that was as unanticipated as it was real.
With the grace of God and the love of my family, I kept functioning and kept working, but even after all these years I continue to feel a deep sympathy for others more chronically or more deeply afflicted with such gloom than I was.
In any case we have all taken courage from those who, in the words of the Prophet Joseph, 'search[ed] … and contemplate[d] the darkest abyss' and persevered through it” (Jeffrey R. Holland, ” a Broken Vessel”).
Though mental illness can be overwhelming and all-consuming, there is hope that there is so much more to live for than the gloom of mental illness.
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4. Hold on to hope
In her October 2016 general women's session address “The Master Healer,” Sister Carole M. Stephens shared a particularly poignant story about holding on to hope during mental illness.
The story was about Josie, a woman with a bipolar disorder.
One day, when Josie was suffering what she called one of her “floor days” where it was difficult to get up and function, she had this incredible experience:“As a long hour continued, my mom whispered over and over and over again, ‘I would do anything to take this from you.
’“Meanwhile, the darkness intensified, and when I was convinced I could take no more, just then something marvelous occurred.“A transcendent and wonderful power suddenly overtook my body.
Then, with a ‘strength beyond my own,’ I declared to my mom with great conviction seven life-changing words in response to her repeated desire to bear my pain. I said, ‘You don’t have to; Someone already has.’”Sister Stephen continues:”From the dark abyss of debilitating mental illness, Josie summoned the strength to testify of Jesus Christ and of His Atonement.”She was not healed completely that day, but she received the light of hope in a time of intense darkness.
And today, supported by a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and refreshed daily by the Savior’s living water, Josie continues on her journey toward healing and exercises unshakable faith in the Master Healer. She helps others along the way. And she says, 'When the darkness feels unremitting, I rely on the memory of His tender mercies.
They serve as a guiding light as I navigate through hard times.'” (Carole M. Stephens, “The Master Healer”).
Though mental illness can come with excruciating symptoms where sometimes all hope seems to be lost, pressing forward and holding on to hope can bring light into our lives over time.
As President Ezra Taft Benson said in his October 1974 general conference address “Do Not Despair”:”To press on in noble endeavors, even while surrounded by a cloud of depression, will eventually bring you out on top into the sunshine.
Even our master Jesus the Christ, while facing that supreme test of being temporarily left alone by our Father during the crucifixion, continued performing his labors for the children of men, and then shortly thereafter he was glorified and received a fullness of joy.
While you are going through your trial, you can recall your past victories and count the blessings that you do have with a sure hope of greater ones to follow if you are faithful.
And you can have that certain knowledge that in due time God will wipe away all tears and that 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him' (1 Cor. 2:9)” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Do Not Despair”).Though mental illnesses and their effects are real, it's important to not underestimate the power of the gospel in our lives and the hope it can bring. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says in the Church video ” a Broken Vessel,” the gospel can have a healing power in lives as we live with hope in its teachings.
“You think you're a broken vessel and lo and behold in the miracle of the gospel you get your vessel healed, whole, put back together. And that's the hope that everybody needs to have—physical illness, mental illness.
And it's hope with a capital a capital 'H”'. . . . I'm not talking about wishful thinking. I'm talking about the docrinal hope that God's grace is sufficient, that if we come unto him, everything that is broken gets fixed.
That's the great promise of the gospel” (Jeffrey R. Holland, ” a Broken Vessel”).
For more resources about mental health and mental illness, visit lds.org/mentalhealth.
Lead image from Getty Images
Through the power of story, nationally recognized journalist Jane Clayson Johnson shines a light on the desperate, dark, and lonely reality faced by those who struggle with clinical depression.
At once hopeful and heart-wrenching, Silent Souls Weeping examines the stigma and isolation associated with depression, as well as the dangers of perfectionistic tendencies and suicidal ideation.
Beginning with an open and frank exploration of her own experience with clinical depression, the author goes on to share stories gathered from interviews with more than 150 men, women, and teens—all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—who have suffered from depression.
Within these stories is a plea to change the dialogue surrounding depression, particularly among Latter-day Saints, who face unique struggles as they try to fit a disease manifest through sorrow into a religion centered on a “plan of happiness.”
Words of Hope for Those Struggling with Depression
Jeni is depressed. The weight of life weighs heavily on her soul and she sees no way of escape. She says she lives in a confusing, dark, and dense jungle. And so it is. She tries to explain but slowly defaults to her “you have to be there to understand me” mantra.
In a sense she is right, but this should not discourage you from helping her lift the mental chains that have created her lethargy toward life. Her zeal is nearly gone as a besieging army of hopelessness surrounds her.
She does not live in the confidence of the Psalmist: Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. – Psalm 27:3
This is her depression. This is her hopelessness. This is where she needs you. As you listen to her depression you must hear what she cannot hear. Jeni lives according to her feelings rather than the truth claims of the Word of God. This is what I call an unbelieving believer (Mark 9:24).
What She Feels is Real
Trusting in her feelings is all she knows. It is what she feels and that is more substantive than the vagaries of faith. Which is easier for you to trust: that which you can feel or that which you can’t?
Feelings may be elusive and detached from the Word of God, but they are real and feel-able. You can experience feelings, but faith is a totally other animal and when you’re in the throes of confusion, feelings can carry a lot of weight.
Unfortunately, too many times the weight feelings carry will take you down to the depths of depression. This is what has happened to Jeni. When you talk to her about the bold claims of Jesus Christ she says it has more of a pie-in-the-sky ring to it than hope for her soul.
Remember: faith is un-feel-able and she is listening to you through a feeling filter, not a faith filter. It’s trying to explain color to a color-blind man. He cannot see what you see. The glory of color is elusive to him.Though the solution is clear to you, it is not clear to her. She is an unbelieving believer. Helping her to get to the solution of Jesus alone, through faith alone will require much patience and gentleness from you.
You who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:1-2
She needs to know who Jesus is and what Jesus can do. Another way to say the same thing is to say, “She needs to have a clear and practical understanding of the gospel.”
He is the way, the truth, and the life for Jeni (John 14:6). He is the lover of her soul; the servant who came to care for her (Mark 10:45). He is her brother and friend who will never leave her or forsake her (Hebrews 13:5). He is her power for salvation, for sanctification, and for glorification (Romans 1:16; Romans 8:29-30).
Sadly, these truths are nothing more than echoes on the outskirts of her life. Somehow the gap between what she is feeling and what the Bible prescribes for her soul must be closed.
Listen Carefully to Her Depression
There is no other technique or prescription or any such thing on earth that can bring her her confusing, dark, and dense jungle. One of the better articles you’ll read on depression is by Ed Welch, from CCEF.
In his article, Welch identifies a person Jeni as living by her feelings or emotional state rather than faith in Christ alone. He suggests the way you care for the depressed is found in faith solutions rather than feeling solutions. I completely agree.
Feelings are descriptive (how she feels) and can be helpful in bringing clarity to what is going on in her mind, but feelings are not solutions that provide a roadmap her jungle. This is an essential understanding of feelings.I never dismiss a person’s feelings when counseling with them. I listen to their feelings. In the case of Jeni, I would be listening to her depression, which is what her feelings would be describing.
However, I would not be basing my faith solutions in her feelings. I would see her feelings as the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. If I’m listening correctly, I would hear how her feelings are revealing a lack of trust (faith) in God–her feelings reveal her mind or her thought life.
Jeni needs to be carefully and gently brought to believe and act on what God says rather than giving herself over to how she feels. Initially, this will be hard for her and it will require learning a new way to live; it is a workout for the mind.
Where you want to be careful is not to dismiss her feelings, because at this point her feelings is all she has to rely upon. To dismiss, make light of, or try to take her feelings away from her would be the equivalent of pushing her an airplane with no parachute.
Remember, she does not have your faith. She does not have your filter. She is the color blind man struggling to grasp your perspective on the glory of color.
Feelings Versus Scripture
In Welch’s article, he puts feelings and Scripture up against each other as though they were in a debate. He does this to make his point that Scripture has to always trump our feelings and it does. Feelings cannot ever win over the Word of God.
Any other result says God (His Word) cannot be trusted; God is not telling the truth, and you must rely on your feelings. Feelings and faith are not coequal. One must lead the other. What you feel may be real to you, but your real feelings can deceive you if they are not rooted in the Word of God.
If you will not trust God’s Word but will trust in your feelings, then God and His Word will not be your solution. In such cases, your oscillating emotions will be your guide, which the Bible implies is a roller coaster. You will be unstable in all your ways.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:5-8
Trusting what you feel in the moment is not the same as trusting the Word of God. Each of us must make this distinction because we’re all prone to live by what we feel versus what we know–or what we should know from God’s Word.
When I feel responding in anger to my wife, I must stop right there on the spot and repent of these unbiblical feelings and trust God’s Word. I cannot allow my mind to be subjected and controlled by feelings that are not controlled by Scripture.If I don’t do this, I will go off on my wife, giving her a piece of my emoting mind. However, if I learn a new way of thinking, according to the Word of God, over time, and through much prayer and practice, I can yield this new way of thinking to the Spirit of God.
This is what Jeni must learn to do too. Her responses, born a new belief system, must rule her mind more than her feelings. The Word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, encouraged by the people of God, is the roadmap she needs in order to be led her jungle of depression.
There is a Battle for Your Mind
This is a sanctification process which is not un any other struggle in which we battle. Nearly all of our struggles are battles in our minds, for our minds. There is a battle for her mind. This is what Paul was teaching us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. He warned us about the nature of the battle.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
There is a battle for Jeni’s mind. The questions are, “What will she believe? Who will she trust? What will she place her faith in? Who is going to control her thinking?”
Her feelings have always held sway over her, but God wants to retrain her mind according to His weapons, which are the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the community of God. These are divine weapons, not according to the flesh.
Physical Components to Depression
Jeni’s belief system needs to be reconstructed. Her main problem becomes a matter of faith. Though there may be some physical elements to depression, the key still rests in who she will ultimately trust.
It could be there will be symptoms of depression she will struggle with all her life. Are any of us in perfect physical health? Do any of us have perfectly free and unencumbered minds? No. We’re fallen people in a fallen world.
If the goal is optimal health from birth to grave, then there is no help that will satisfy you. If the goal is to find grace for your situation, regardless of what your situation may be, then there is strength for your weakness (2 Corinthians 4:7).Regardless of the physical components of depression, which is a debatable subject, if she responds to her feelings–what she feels in the moment, she will be a slave to her feelings. If she responds according to the Word of God, she will have victory, even in her weakness, whatever her weaknesses may be (2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
God’s Word is not designed to make us perfectly healthy and mentally whole. That is not the goal of His Word for fallen people in a fallen world. The goal of His Word is to give us victory even in our weaknesses. Is God’s grace sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)?
I think sometimes, some people crave personal victory and interpret it as being healthy, whole, and problem free. That is not a promise from the Word of God. Being strengthened by God, while living in a body of death is a promise from God (Romans 7:24-25).
This kind of faith releases you from falling prey to the argument that depression is a disease and the Word of God does not speak to it. The Word of God does not speak to my chronic back pain, but it teaches me how to have victory while debilitated.
A Few Mind-Reorienting Texts
One of the things a counselor would want to do for Jeni is begin the reorientation of her mind to the Word of God. Quite frankly, she needs to be brainwashed and since our culture has no qualms about brainwashing us, I have none either.
With brainwashing not an option, it comes down to what you want to wash your brain with and the Word of God is my preferred washing tool. Here are three helpful texts to suggest to her to memorize.
You could then begin a process of teaching her what these texts mean. Memorizing the Bible is not magic. These texts are just words, that’s all. However, if you walk her through what they mean, pray through them, asking the Spirit of God to practicalize them to her heart, then you will see the beginning of change.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. – Psalm 1:1-3
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12;1-2Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:6-8
Pertaining to this last passage, be sure to read my article and accompanying Mind Map called, Mind Mapping Stinking Thinking – Thoughts on How to Change Your Mind.