For those who have struggled with mental illness or substance misuse, for well over six months, you may have felt the pain of helplessness and even hopelessness. Day in and day out without relief, the endless sorrow of losing a loved one, the oncoming panic attack, or the worry of another relapse can wear down the mind, heart, and soul.
But we also know that our hope as Christians does not come from within our own selves, but from God. He is near to those who call on Him.
The Lord is close to the brokenheartedPsalm 34:18 (NIV)
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Hopelessness is a time of isolation, of being at rock bottom, of needing to find support in whatever and wherever we can find it. Scripture talks consistently about how God is our hope, our strength, our redeemer.
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;Proverbs 18:10 (NIV)
the righteous run to it and are safe.
But you are our Father,Isaiah 63:16 (NIV)
though Abraham does not know us
or Israel acknowledge us;
you, Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
We have many different ways to be able to connect with God. It is in this connection that we are able to find rest. Nothing below is complex, but to be fair, when you are in a wave of hopelessness, the last thing you want or need is something difficult to do.
Whether you have a common prayer like the Serenity Prayer, a short breath prayer, or go into your own room and pray for hours, go talk directly to God. If you do not know how to pray, go read the words of David in Psalms. You will find him pleading to God with fear, anxiety, and depression as he is being hunted by King Saul. I have found those prayers to be immensely powerful.
Scripture is the God-breathed words through His people to us as guidance on how to conduct ourselves, but also for hope. Need some places to look for hope? Go Genesis 6–9 that ends with a rainbow as a symbol of God’s covenant, read through all of Nehemiah as an understanding of commitment and resilience against harmful and fearful foes, or the words of Jesus in a sermon now called the Sermon on the Mount that speaks to people who are struggling and suffering.
When you can, go find people in community. Find other Christians in the church who you can pray with, a pastor or someone you have a relationship. Look to see if your church has a mental health small group or Sunday school class. Connect online with other Christians. Go out with friends for coffee, bowling, or to walk in the park. Go be with people, even when all you want to do is sit inside. This is a literal command of God when we struggle with something in our life:
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV)