“Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
If this is one of the verses I’ve cited most from the Bible, it is because I often need to remind myself of this.
Jehovah does not expect us to never be anxious, but he does expect us to rely on him through our trials. (1 Pet. 5:7)
He promises to be there for us, either by providing strength to endure or by showing us the solution. (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 4:7-9; 2 Pet. 2:9)
Jehovah often answers our prayers in ways which we could never have even imagined. (Eph. 3:20)
If we look to him for comfort, his training will make us stronger and ‘firmly ground us’ in the faith. (1 Pet. 5:10)
“I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think, but to think so as to have a sound mind [..].”
The closer we draw to God’s promised kingdom, the harder it is to manage our trials. (1 Pet. 4:7)
How do we protect and improve our mental health?
One proverb advises: “A calm heart gives life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Prov. 14:30)
When we keep emotions in check, such as anger, stress and anxiety, we can train ourselves to remain calm and strong. (Ps. 37:8; Eccl. 7:9)
We can also pray to God for more patience and empathy. (Prov. 14:29)
If we have a tendency to overreact, it will do us good to nurture a forgiving spirit toward minor mistakes, both our own and those of others’. (Ps. 4:4; Col. 3:13)
If we think before we speak, we will end up with fewer regrets and feel better about ourselves. (Prov. 12:18; 15:1)
Sometimes we may need to physically remove ourselves from a situation before we can figure out how to best tackle the problem. (Prov. 17:14)
Wearing a smile on our face and focusing on what we have instead of what we lack can promote cheerfulness. (Prov. 15:15; 17:22; 2 Cor. 8:12)
It is also important to surround ourselves with people who are encouraging. (1 Cor. 15:33)
It helps to remember that God values us and we are not alone. (Is. 41:13)
Personally, I have found that diet and exercise greatly influence my emotional state.
But if we constantly feel our situation in life is hopeless, we could probably benefit from speaking to a psychology professional who understands our personal values. (Luke 5:31)
The following is a good video to share with someone who might show symptoms of depression:
From Sad to Glad
“I reject this life of mine. It is all the same.”
Discouragement is one one of Satan’s chief, most effective tactics.
If we do not believe our service to God makes any difference, we are in danger of making self-centered choices instead of responsible ones.
While the loss of Job’s material possessions, his health and his family did not shake him to the point that he incurred sin, it did make him question his relevance.
“If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression and be cheerful,’ I would still be afraid because of all my pains, and I know you would not find me innocent. I would be found guilty. So why should I struggle in vain?” (Job 9:27-29).
Job’s faith was starting to struggle, and if he kept on that course, his endurance would have suffered the consequences.
Heightening his challenge was his insomnia, which was so bad in itself that he preferred the peace of death over his unrelenting misery (Job 7:3,4,14).
In his defense, Job ignored the origin of his trials and erroneously attributed them to God (Job 7:17,18).
But because Jehovah knows just how much pain one individual can really bear, He eventually stepped in to adjust Job’s point of view (Jas. 5:11).
How wonderful it is to understand God’s word and know that ‘He is faithful and will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear’ (1 Cor. 10:13).
Through a clear understanding of Job’s experience, we can find comfort and hope and even endure the seemingly worst of trials, including deep depression (Rom. 15:4).
We can appreciate how relevant we really are to God and resist Satan’s tactic to make us think otherwise (Prov. 27:11).
“Let the day perish on which I was born, […]
Let that day be darkness.”
After losing his life’s work, his livelihood, his family and his health, Job had more than plenty reasons to be depressed (Job 1:13-19; 2:7,9).
His false friend, Eliphaz, wrongfully attributed Job’s depression to a lack of faith.
“Does your reverence for God not give you confidence?” he asked accusingly (Job 4:6).
But Job’s depression did not stem from an unfulfilled spiritual need (Job 2:3,6,9,10).
His trials were beyond what any man can emotionally bear while still holding on to a certain sense of sanity.
This is why he sat mourning on ashes, unrecognizable (Job 2:8,12).
It is normal for serious problems to affect our emotional health and attitude, whatever their nature may be.
When a friend confides in us that they are depressed, it is important not to make it an issue of faith, because we may end up sounding like Eliphaz giving wrong counsel to Job.
If we are not careful with our choice of words and assumptions, we may make a bad situation much, much worse.
It is important, therefore, to imitate Jehovah’s kindness and really take the time to listen and observe before applying any type of counsel to those who are brokenhearted (Ps.34:18; Jas.1:19).