When I was growing up I thought having depression and anxiety was a sin. I thought I should be able to “pray it away.” I prayed all the time but God chose not to take it away. When I first started having intrusive thoughts I definitely thought they were a sin. I didn’t tell anyone for ten years. And when I say I didn’t tell anyone I don’t mean I told a couple people who were close to me. I didn’t tell anyone AT ALL. Not my husband. Not my mom. None of my close friends. Not my therapist. That’s how ashamed of the thoughts I was. I have finally been able to accept that I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. My mood disorders are not a sin any more than having a heart attack is a sin.
I sometimes feel sad or confused, and if I’m being honest, probably mostly upset when people say, “depression and anxiety aren’t real things.” “You just have to pray more and it will go away.” “If you had enough faith it would go away.” “God must be punishing you for some sin.” I will think, hey, thanks for telling me to pray! Why didn’t I think of that?
Sometimes God allows things to happen and it is not because of any sin we are struggling with. It is not because we need to have more faith. It could be that God is using your struggles to show others how He has worked in you. I have been trying to share about my mental illnesses because I believe I can be helpful to others. At times, it is hard to be so vulnerable but if God can use me to keep one person from taking their life I believe that would be a success.
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. ‘Rabbi,’ his disciples asked him, ‘why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?’ ‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” John 9:1-3 NLT
I find it very encouraging that Jesus said his illness was not because of his sin. It makes me remember that I will have struggles in this world but they are not always a result of mistakes I’d made. Satan did a lot of horrible things to Job and Job still did not sin. So, I don’t I know why people think your life becomes perfect once you start to follow Jesus. I do think life will be perfect once we get to heaven but God never promises a perfect life on Earth.
“To be sure, I like Jesus, and I still follow him, but the idea that Jesus will make everything better is a lie. It’s basically biblical theology translated into the language of infomercials. The truth is, the apostles never really promise Jesus is going to make everything better here on earth. Can you imagine an infomercial with Paul, testifying to the amazing product of Jesus, saying that he once had power and authority, and since he tried Jesus he’s been moved from prison to prison, beaten, and routinely bitten by snakes? I don’t think many people would be buying that product. Peter couldn’t do any better. He was crucified upside down, by some reports. Stephen was stoned outside the city gates. John, supposedly, was boiled in oil. It’s hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria. I think Jesus can make things better, but I don’t think he is going to make things perfect. Not here, and not now.” –A Million Miles in A Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Paul, Peter, Stephen, and John were all living for God during these times. I’m sure they weren’t perfect but God definitely wasn’t punishing them for telling others about Christ. They sacrificed themselves for their faith. I call that amazing faith. They definitely didn’t need more faith for their lives to be better. They chose to suffer for Christ.
We will have struggles in this world and we may not always know the reason why. I often wonder why God didn’t take away my depression, anxiety, or OCD when I asked Him, too. But, I think coming very close to ending my life has helped me help other people who might be struggling with similar things. Suicide is way more common than it should be and I think one reason is because people are afraid to ask for help when they need it. I obviously did not like struggling with very extreme suicidal thoughts but almost dying has made me appreciate life more.