Hope in Lament

Two years ago, I made a commitment to read the entire bible again. However, this time instead of doing it it a year, I wanted to slow it down so I could savor every reading and so I opted for a three year reading plan. For the past month so I have been “stuck” in the book of Psalms and I use the word “stuck” because as much as I love the Psalms, oh boy is it ever so dreary! The first 40 chapters are full of lots of lamenting so much so that I stopped looking forward to my daily readings. In fact I remember telling God how tired I was reading all of these laments because I could not find any fodder for my blogpost from them! You can imagine my great joy yesterday when my reading plan switched gears to the book of Philippians. Despite my relief, I still asked God what lessons there were to be learnt from lament and the answer came today in our Ash Wednesday Service at church dubbed “Hope in Lament”. This is what I learnt:

As Christians, we sometimes encounter situations where there is a disconnect between what we know to be true of God and our reality here on earth. Cerebrally, we know God to be good, kind, and loving and yet we sometimes encounter situations that make us question God’s goodness, his kindness and love towards us. If you are a “good African Christian” you would have been told explicitly or implicitly at some point that to question God and to ask why questions His sovereignty and is an expression of a lack of complete trust in His will and plan. But this is where lament comes in. Lamenting gives us the opportunity to be real with God and to have a safe space and outlet to tell God exactly what we are feeling and thinking without holding back. We can come to God with our raw emotions without censoring ourselves for fear we will offend His majesty. David, the apple of God’s eye, certainly knew the value of being real with God. In the Psalms, he speaks openly to God about his mental health, his physical health, his emotional health and his spiritual health. In his laments, he acknowledges God for who He is, sovereign and all and does not hesitate to lay it all- the good, bad and ugly before His Sovereign King. Jesus himself just before the cross found value in lament- in not letting the anguish he felt in his soul consume him but to find an outlet in crying out that the cup be taken away from him! In one of his darkest moments, he lamented to God.

So today I have learnt the value of lamenting- it is a healthy outlet God provides for his children so we can let out some steam when the world beats down on us. It is not ungodly to lament, rather, it is another way God proves to us that He understands what it is like to be human- that He understands that sometimes our emotions get so pent up within us we feel like we are going to explode and He invites us to lament to Him- no judgements! In fact he encourages it so much that when the bible was being compiled He ensured that there was a whole book called Lamentations to model for us that it’s okay to lament. Now while I am not looking forward to the book of Lamentations, I am grateful for the lesson that I can come to God with any and every thing in my mind and heart without censoring or judgement. There truly is hope in lament!

Yours Truly.

P.S. shout out to Pastor Colin of Living Hope Alliance Church for an awesome service!

Mental Health and the Church

Hi folks! This week church took an interesting turn. The pastor took the time to speak about mental health and how God helps us deal with mental health issues. The pastor even went ahead to share about his own experience and journey with depression and some of the congregants did the same. Now that was very different from what I am used to hearing about mental health issues in church. In fact, very little if any is said about it. There continues to be a stigma surrounding mental health issues, especially in Christians. However, this is a very important topic and especially now as many of us emerge from our COVID-cocoons.

This week I share with you what God has laid on the heart of  Chyina Powell, author of the blog Rise Holy, regarding the topic. And here is what she has to say:

Many believers in our society do not have a firm grasp on the truth of what mental health is. They mistakenly assume that it is all about depression or being crazy. But, in truth, mental health encompasses so much more than that. And that is why we as the body of Christ must break the cycle of stigmatizing mental health discussion.

What is mental health?

Mental health determines how we think and how we feel therefore it has an important impact on the way we view the world, how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. Our mental health is made up of three common factors: life experiences, biology (chemical make-up), and family history. Mental health problems occur when one of these factors begins to alter your mood and mindset. Someone who has poor mental health doesn’t have to be what the church stereotypes as “crazy,” they can be someone who lies awake at night with worry, someone who feels apathetic to the world around them or someone experiencing aches and pains in their body for no physical reason. Yet many believers who are uneducated on the truth of what characterizes mental health argue that mental health problems only arise in those who don’t know God or those who have backslidden.

Can God relate with our struggles with mental health issues?

The truth is that our Heavenly Father knew that His children would have mental health issues which is why He gives us example after example in His Word. Elijah, a man who was so loved by God that he didn’t even die had terrible mood swings and even struggled with suicidal thoughts. Naomi, a woman who lost everything, was ready to give up. Moses, the man who delivered Israel out of Egypt was so anxious that if it was up to him, he never would have gone at all. And the list goes on.

Mental health is a very real battle that we as God’s children must acknowledge in order to overcome. You cannot win a battle if you refuse to fight it. Ask yourself this question, if mental health wasn’t important would the Lord have included it in the Scriptures? Thankfully, God always shows us a way out which is why we have to seek His face for ourselves.

Why is it important to discuss this issue?

From depression to anxiety to finding ways to cope with our issues to feelings of inadequacy or abandonment, the struggle is real. And as God’s chosen people, His representatives here on Earth, we have to talk about it. We have to stop saying, “Oh, that’s just a Spirit” or looking down on someone who is going through these issues. Why? Because we cannot minister to people if they don’t trust us. We cannot help save souls if we look down on the very real emotions and battles people go through each and every day. Our light cannot shine if we never step into the darkness. Ignoring an issue doesn’t make it disappear. And, if we were honest with ourselves, I believe every believer that has ever lived has gone through periods of time where they were in poor mental health. It is okay to discuss it.

The Lord tells us that He will heal us but He cannot heal a pain we do not acknowledge.

When was the last time you talked about mental health in a group of believers? When was the last time you were honest with the mental battles you face? That is why the Lord laid my upcoming Bible Study Nevertheless on my heart. I faced these same challenges and thought to myself that maybe I wasn’t saved enough. But that isn’t true. The war we wage is in the spirit and in the mind which is why it is time for the Church to address mental health openly and unashamedly.

Chyina Powell is an editor and writer at Powell Editorial. She is the financial chair of the Alumni Epsilon chapter of the International English Honors’ Society, Sigma Tau Delta and her writing interests lie mainly in speculative fiction and creative nonfiction. With years of editorial and publishing experience as well as a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania, Chyina is passionate about her work and shining a light on those voices previously unheard or misrepresented. Chyina is also the author of an upcoming Bible Study called Nevertheless: What the Bible Says About Mental Health, that broaches such topics as depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and more. In order to cover the expenses of publication, she has created a soon-to-launch Kickstarter project that can be found here. 

Thank you Chyina for this piece! My take away: You cannot win a battle if you refuse to fight it!

Yours Truly.




The depressed Christian

There are many opinions out there about whether or not a Christian can be depressed. There are some that believe that depression is a spiritual attack and lie from the devil, others believe it is a physical/psychological phenomenon in reaction to life’s events, and yet others believe it is a medical condition just like any physical ailment. For many years now I have been thinking about this topic based on my experiences of how Christians react to the topic of depression which I will share in subsequent posts. Recently a passage of scripture caught my attention. This scripture accurately captures the old age saying “easier said than done”. This is one of Job’s friend Eliphaz speaking to Job:

In the past you have encouraged many people; you have strengthened those who were weak. Your words have supported those who were falling; you encouraged those with shaky knees. But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart. You are terrified when it touches you. Job 4:3-5 NLT

It is my personal experience that it is easy to give advice to others about what they should do in a given situation but usually when we have to cast a gaze inward at ourselves, the advice we give often becomes a bitter pill to swallow. For this next blog, I will like to compile some data before I write and I need your help.

The task is simple. Send me a brief message back sharing your experience of dealing with depression in your own life or in that of a loved one. How did you or your loved one get out of the rut? What helped you or your loved one cope? Or what advice did you give or has someone given you regarding depression?

I eagerly look forward to your participation and I hope all your responses come together into a lovely piece on the topic of the depression. Together let’s be healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

Yours truly.