God's Grace in Mental Health
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
1. Comfort allows you to feel Validated
Validation means to understand, to recognize, to establish, to legitimize the worthiness of an experience, emotion or concern. So, one of the best ways to begin having comfort in any mental health distress is to first acknowledge the pain as a legitimate and worthy response. Even if it's deriving from an irrational situation, state or sub-conscious paradigm. Validation allows yourself to understand where your mind is at and what you need to do in order to take care of it.
Validation is necessary in order to combat panic. Allowing yourself to "be" in the situation rather than saying that it's not happening allows anxiety, fear and other irrational (or rational) strongholds to lose their grips on you. Sinful or not, validating your present mindset is necessary and right.
Jesus validates our pain...what bothers us, bothers Jesus! "When Jesus saw the crowds He was moved with compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless (distressed and dispirited), like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). So, Jesus wanted to be with them!
Our comfort in Christ is from within, because He said "I will be in You" (John 14:20). We can rest knowing He is within, "moved with compassion" through everything that leaves us "distressed and dispirited," even when life doesn't turn out like we hoped.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul talked about a lot of pain, but he talked about it from the context of having a treasure within (2 Cor. 4:7). Paul knew that he would still experience the human condition and its pains, however now with a new source of strength (grace). A treasure within that would be of a surpassing greatness of power providing comfort and resilience for every pressure he faced. He wasn't left to his own willpower to say, "I'm fine" (2 Cor. 4:8). So, with the powerful treasure of comfort, compassion, and a resilient love, Paul continues to VALIDATE the pains he (we) feel: "We are afflicted, but not crushed, perplexed, but not despairing ..." (2 Cor. 4:8). I don't know about you, but sometimes I have felt both afflicted and crushed, perplexed and despairing. Yet, what Paul was saying is that as humans we will have afflictions, but this treasure within won't leave us crushed. Joy is key here and that you'll find in a coming article. Joy supersedes situations in a divine way that allows us to connect to the Helper (Spirit) in a way that only can happen in times of distress.
2. Affirmation allows comfort to settle in us
THE WORTH OF BELONGING: In Luke 15, we find three stories about a lost sheep and the shepherd who leaves the 99 for that one lost sheep! The second story is of the woman who has ten silver coins, but loses one. She turns on a lamp and goes throughout the whole house until she finds it. Then, we read about the prodigal son who squandered his inheritance but came home to a father running out to embrace him and continually kissing him (regardless of all the pig muck all over him!). Why is this important? Because ...
a. The sheep, coin, and son always belonged! They were part of an original flock, a full collection of wealth, and a loving family. They belonged and getting them back was all that mattered! The shepherd, the woman, and the father did not feel complete without them!
b. The sheep, coin, and son never lost their worth! At no point in the story did they lose their original value. They belonged and seeing them returned to embrace their worth was the priority. Even when the son thought he had lost his worth, the father was ready to welcome him back into the worth he had all along!
c. The sheep, coin, and son parables were for the religious, not the lost! Jesus told these stories in response to the religious leaders (Pharisees and scribes) who were grumbling about Jesus, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them" (Luke 15:2). Jesus was conveying that he saw a people harassed and distressed, helpless and dispirited and He wanted to be with them. God was not complete without them! He was conveying His love for us and that we are worth everything to Him, even His own life! That we have always belonged to Him!
Mental health is something we see every day, especially here in America where people with mental health issues are mistreated (not necessary in a prejudice way but by the systematics of our country now doing the right education on it). Something that has helped my mental health since I was 16 dealing with what the doctor said was "Severe, Complex Anxiety" was memorizing small portions of scripture anytime I could that are promises from God to be with me whenever I was feeling weak.
I encourage you to dive deep into the Word of God.