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Last week, I began my Shattered to Secure series by contemplating our need for faith as part of our recovery from depression and anxiety. Our first biblical promise came from Psalm 40:1-3. If we cry out to God and wait patiently, he promises to lift us out of the slimy pit we find ourselves in. He sets our feet upon solid ground. This week, we tackle the role of confession in healing and God’s nearness when we feel the aching pangs of loneliness in the middle of our trials.
Confess Your Sin So That You May Be Healed
Please hear me. Your sin is not always the cause of your suffering. Sometimes you are the victim of someone else’s sin. Sometimes you are a casualty of a broken world that’s spinning out of control.
We know that there are physical causes of depression and anxiety, like low neurotransmitters and hormones. Likewise, sickness, disease, poor nutrition, injury, and trauma are definitely examples of potential roots for our brokenness. And having been in and around Christian ministry for most of my life, I have seen first-hand the devastation that careless words about the need for “confession and ‘enough faith’” can cause on the road to healing.
James Tells Us that Confession Brings Healing
However, it would be remiss of me not to consider James 5:15-16 when we contemplate the biblical promises that offer hope on our journey to mental wellbeing.
“And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick.
Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”James 5:15-16
I don’t know about you, but it’s really easy for me to skirt around this issue. Labeled as a “goody-two-shoes” by my friends from as young as I can remember, and so terrified of “getting into trouble” with anyone in authority, that I tried to avoid all mistakes, I easily think too highly of myself with regard to my morality and sin. This made it even harder to possess a spirit of confession when I needed it.
Sin Was at the Root of My Suffering
In the initial days of my nervous breakdown, when the anxiety was too dire to handle and the depression was suffocating, I was constantly searching for any reason that would illuminate the cause of my struggles; mostly so that I could fix it. As it turns out, I’m a pretty stubborn and independent cuss who would rather come up with the solution by myself, than admit my need for help from anyone else; sometimes even from God. I reasoned that if I left it up to God or anyone else for that matter, it might not turn out the way I think it should. Maybe you can relate. It turns out this is just one of many flaws, or as the bible calls them, sins.
During this season, someone had given me a copy of “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkeurst. Somewhere, in the middle of the darkness, I found the will to crack the pages and read the introduction. In the middle of my night, light poured from those pages and illuminated some of the ugliness that I was carrying around inside.
Burying My Feelings in Comfort Food
I’m not entirely sure when it started, but I do remember getting to the point that I ate to compensate for my emotions. I clearly remember going home from school, consumed with some 15-year-old-me-tragedy, that (not gonna lie) probably involved a cute boy and my broken heart.
I found myself in the town bakery, unable to decide between a sugar-crusted jammy donut, the Napoleon’s crisp layers of phyllo dough sandwiched with strawberry jam and cream, and the custard-filled choux pastry that is a chocolate éclair. So I picked all three and took them to the park. I ate them all in one sitting in an attempt to bury my feelings. It was the beginning of some really bad habits that replaced my dependency and need for God’s healing with the “feel-good” but desolate high of sugar.
In that floodlit moment, I recognized the sin of idolatry in my life and let God know that I was sorry and that things would be different going forward. (Confession is simply agreeing with God that you haven’t got things figured out and you are ready to try doing it His way from now on.) After fourteen years of wilderness wandering in the valley of sickness, I started receiving medical answers that began my journey to mental health.
Are You Getting In the Way of Your Healing?
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Sometimes we get in the way of our own healing by refusing to acknowledge the sin in our life. We aren’t in the habit of confession, let alone repentance. If you aren’t sure if sin is tripping up your journey to mental health, try praying Psalm 139:23.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”Psalm 139:23
He Is Near To Your Broken Heart
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”Psalm 34:18-19
In the last twenty-four years, our family has withstood storms that I was sure would overpower us. Pushed to the very limit of what we could endure, we were broken-hearted and crushed in spirit. Trampled by the circumstances, crippled by my grief, mutilated by my sorrow, and shattered by my pain, I didn’t know if I could survive. With nowhere to run and no moment to flee, I retreated to the cold tile of my bathroom floor. I curled up in the fetal position and allowed the most guttural sounds to pour from somewhere deep within myself. Calling on the name of Jesus through inconsolable and desperate tears until I was hoarse, I begged Him to hold me in his invisible and invincible arms when no one else could.
And in the most miserable moments of my life, He has proven that He is there, that He hears my cry, and that He has the power to save. He has delivered me from my troubles.
Isaiah 42:3 contains the precious promise that God will not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. The bible uses the analogy of a bruised reed to symbolize the “weak and depressed in spirit, the lowly and dejected.” (Pulpit) A wick that is barely alight, scarcely hanging on to its flame, is like someone who is hardly hanging onto their faith in the middle of their trials.
God Treats Us with Astonishing Tenderness
In tenderness, God responds to the crestfallen and despondent with kindness and strength. Instead of breaking off the broken and bruised reed, He brings healing and helps it to stand tall once more. Instead of snuffing out the light, He trims the wick and adds more oil so that it can burn more brightly.
I sometimes think that Jesus is able to do so much more in our most forlorn and cheerless moments of absolute candor than He can when we are trying to hold it all together. Perhaps it is because in our weakest moment of vulnerability we are somehow more moldable, more receptive, and more accepting of His help.
One of the most glorious realizations I have ever experienced is that I don’t have to be strong enough to cope in all circumstances. In my weakness, transparency, and vulnerability, there is strength and healing.
For most people, minor lifestyle changes will make a big difference. However, there are times when the problem runs deeper, and you need professional help. If you’ve tried to figure this out on your own, or you feel like you’re lost in a maze of information and aren’t sure which path to take, don’t give up hope.
We have a range of different approaches that will help you figure out the root cause of your dysfunction and stop the cycle of sickness so you can feel better now. Book your free 30-minute Breakthrough Strategy Session today.