September 3, 2020 by Dr. Jack Graham
The coronavirus pandemic has brought fear, chaos, grief, and isolation into our lives in a way many of us have never experienced.
Every day, I hear about strained marriages, lonely seniors, anxious students, despairing business owners, and grieving families who’ve lost someone to the virus. Many people are experiencing depression and anxiety because of these unprecedented circumstances.
But when depression and anxiety threaten to overwhelm us, there are three steps we can take that can help us get our bearings back.
First, be honest with God.
Although it may come as a surprise, many people in the Bible struggled with depression. Moses, Elijah, and Jonah—to name a few—all experienced disappointment, disillusionment, and despair. In their darkest moments, they cried out to God in agonizing honesty.
If these men—all of whom were prophets—walked so closely with God and yet so powerfully struggled with their mental and emotional health, then I think God understands when we do too.
If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental or emotional health struggles, you’re not alone. Don’t believe the lie that you aren’t fit to be God’s child. Hear and respond to the life-giving, soul-healing truth of God’s Word. He heard the cries of Moses, Elijah, and Jeremiah, and He hears yours.
Second, participate in community.
God exists in unity and community, and after He created the first man, He said, “it is not good for man to be alone” and created the first woman (Genesis 2:18). Division and isolation came as a result of the Fall.
Of course, COVID-19 has changed how we participate in community. While some churches are beginning to gather, many people are still not able to meet in person because of health concerns.
But the wonderful thing is that the virus has not canceled community because the church is not a building. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).
We can stay connected through phone calls, text messaging, video chatting, letter writing, and socially distanced visits. It only takes two to make a church gathering.
And third, ask for help when you need it.
While prayer and community are certainly helpful, there’s no shame in seeking professional help for depression and anxiety. Sometimes, our brains and bodies simply don’t work like they should. Sometimes, circumstances really can be too much to bear.
Talking to a doctor or counselor can be immensely helpful in understanding and managing mental health issues. I know — I have battled depression. Some days are harder than others. And that’s okay. Depression and anxiety are a real part of life in this broken world. God has promised each of us that we can find wholeness, peace, and security in Him no matter what trials we are facing. So in these challenging times, let’s be honest with Him, participate in community, and ask for help when we need it.