“I hate myself.”
“I have no hope. I have no future.”
“I’m so ashamed.”
“I don’t belong in church.”
“Why did He make me like this?”
“I have/have had problems with my mental health.”
“I feel my weakness.”
“I don’t quite fit.”
“I believe the gospel but I don’t feel it.”
If you feel these things, then know that Jesus is for you. You are not beyond the pale, or outside of the camp. In your weakness and dependence, you are in the presence of the Lord. And He is working; whatever your head might tell you.
Do not trust your brain; and do not trust your emotions. Trust God’s love, which never changes. If you’re facing mental illness, then of COURSE you won’t feel it. Accept this; and don’t beat yourself up for it. If you broke your leg, would you blame yourself for not climbing a mountain? No. So stop trying to think or feel your way out.
The first requirement of being a Christian is that you recognise you’re lost and stuck and utterly, utterly dependent. The last requirement of being a Christian is that you recognise you’re stuck and lost and utterly dependent. Every step of the way, at every moment; whether a baby believer or a life-long saint, you are a child, clinging to their heavenly Father. Dependence on God is not something we outgrow; it is a sign of growth.
Though suffering takes many things away, it gives us this: we know our need. This is the place where God works most and deepest – when our protective layers are stripped away and our wounds are exposed. And then His healing touch. Not necessarily in our bodies or even our minds. But always, if we cry out, to our hearts. To the deepest, most precious parts that medicine and prosperity and health cannot reach. In God’s hands, our suffering has purpose – and it cannot keep us from Him.
The values of this world are not ours. What the world sees as treasure; God counts as trash. What the world despises, the Lord glorifies. Independence, strength, outward beauty, self-reliance, pride – all of it is dust. But the heart that cries out to the Lord – from the hospital bed, from the depths of depression or grief, from the slaveries of addiction, from sickness and from sin; this He counts as gold. He sees it. He weeps over it. He carries it.
You might hate your labels or you might cling to them. But before your diagnoses and before the judgements, you were already someone precious. You are first and always a child of God, chosen and redeemed, made to reflect Him. This is the real you, even though you forget, even though it’s someone you feel you’ve never met. You don’t need to bring a new self into existence; that person is already here. In the muck and in the mess.
Who are the people the Lord uses? The enemy of the church who enabled Stephen’s murder. The ‘army’ God whittled down to nothing. The stutterer who spoke to the most powerful man in the world. The prostitute, the leper, the outcast. The barren woman who brings forth a nation. The naked man, hanging on a cross.
Can anything separate us from the love of Christ?
If we face persecution, or trouble or famine or nakedness?
If we are sectioned or if we self-harm?
If we know the gospel but God seems far away? If we are ashamed or guilty or paranoid or exhausted?
NO. In all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us.
Because we trust Him enough? Because we feel like He is near?
No. Because HE carries US. And in His strength, we carry one another.
You may tell yourself you are worth nothing and you make no difference; but that’s a stinking lie, straight from the pit. I need you and you need me and our feelings about it are neither here nor there.
Galatians 6:2: carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.
Thank God; we’re designed to be carried.