Connections 12.03.2023: Mental Health

Isaiah 64

I had a phone call with my cousin and lifelong best friend last night. We discussed personal struggles and mental health issues. He commented that most of the people he knows—including the two of us—have been to therapy and/or take medication for their mental health. I wondered why. Are we more aware of mental health struggles, or is the world just so much harder to survive today? “I think it’s both,” he said.

I believe he is right. As recently as my own childhood, the topic of mental health was either taboo or too mysterious. When I suffered my first few panic attacks in middle school, my family doctor said I simply needed to pray more. That approach has changed over the past decade. Now mental health therapy is more accessible and medications are better, though we still have a long way to go.

And the world is indeed worse. There have been tragedies and struggles since the beginning of time. The difference is our instant awareness of what is happening coupled with multiple interpretations of events from varied political positions. It can be maddening.

Today’s passage from Isaiah is an agonizing prayer. The prophet longs for God’s presence, praises God for many good things, confesses the ways he has failed God, and then pleads with God to restore their relationship. We can identify with the prophet. As the world suffers and mental health spirals, we want God to “open the heavens and come down” (v. 1). We know what God has done, recognize our own failures, and hope for what God will do.

My family doctor wasn’t wrong. While I needed (and still need) practical help with my anxiety, spiritual help is essential too. As we battle fear, anxiety, depression, and worry, may we emulate the prophet and seek God with bold honesty and undefeatable faith.

Discussion

• Do you or someone you know struggle with mental health? What has helped?
• How is the world “worse” than it might have been in our parents’ generation? What effect have the internet, 24-hour news, and social media had on our perception of the state of the world?
• How does constant access to news and opinions affect our mental health?
• What is the balance between seeking treatment and trusting God with our mental health?
• How can you make the prophet’s prayer your own today?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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