I have been thinking recently about the way in which our faith in God provides so much strength in times of mental anguish. CBT encourages sufferers to actives themselves as an ant-depressant by focusing away from negative thoughts onto new positive ones. Whilst this is very good advice, re-orientating thoughts to new internally created ones can seem a little hollow.
Activating hopefulness for Christians is very often found in embracing the authentic promises of God. These promises are far more than positive self-talk, they are eternal truth that stands outside of the sphere of faulty thinking. It is proven that being able to place trust outside of personal perspectives is highly beneficial for therapeutic outcomes. I think particularly about this in relationship the steps 2 and 3 of the 12 Step Recovery Programme: · Step 2 – I came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me. · Step 3 – I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God.
Activating hopefulness begins by standing in the place of pain. It begins in the recognition that we are often unable to help ourselves. I find accepting that I am sometimes helpless a very difficult thing to do. In fact it often feels that this not the beginning of hopefulness at all, but the beginning of despair. Ironically it is precisely here that hope breaks in.
This weekend as we enter into Easter I am reminded again of this incredible interaction between helplessness and hopefulness. The disciples had seen Jesus executed. They were filled with grief and anguish and really believed that this was the end. Three days in the tomb must have felt like an eternity to them, as the last strands of hope faded away. Yet out of death, hope was restored, the tomb burst open and Jesus appeared amongst them. He had not only overcome death, but now offered a new and eternal hope to the whole world.
This interaction with helplessness and hopefulness had a profound impact upon the disciples, especially Peter. He had always determined to help himself, and even presumed to be able to help Jesus. Following the pit of despair in denying Jesus, he was restored with a new hope, a hope that made him God reliant not self-reliant. We too need to access this hope.
You may currently be experiencing what I call ‘Tomb Days’; days where it feels that all hope is lost and the pain of distress is heavy on your heart. In these moments it can see that there will be no end to the feelings and no change on the horizon. But remember to activate hopefulness, not in your own ability to overcome but Christ’s ability to enter in. Whilst you may be powerless He is not. Grasp his promises today the he will never leave you, he loves you and he will rescue you.
Will Van Der Hart, 30/03/2010