Since I spent the vast majority of my life struggling with depression and bipolar disorder, I often searched for anything and everything that could bring me peace.
What I have learned since being in recovery is that God has provided help and healing for me – in Jesus, in His Holy Spirit, and in His Word – but I have to ask for it and then do what He says to achieve it.
Help is available. Peace is possible.
Philippians 4:9 (ESV)
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Practice these things and the God of Peace will be with you.
Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in me, and has ever since I got saved. But in order for the fruit of the Spirit to manifest in my life, I have to do something.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
In order to get to the place where I manifest the fruit of the Spirit, I have to walk in the Spirit. That means action and movement.
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
God gave us His Holy Spirit to help us keep His laws. When we ask for His help and surrender to His leading, He can lead us to do the things we need to do. He will lead us to read His Word and practice what it says. And this will lead us to His peace.
Going back to what Paul wrote to the Philippians, he gave a list of instructions right before he told us to, “practice these things.”
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Whoa! That’s a long list of things I’m supposed to do. And my perfectionistic mind tunes out after the first one or two, because I automatically start thinking, “I can’t do this!”
The good news is, I’ve trained myself that whenever I realize my mind is freaking out, I immediately stop and breathe. Panic is never necessary, especially when I’m reading God’s Word.
Then, in the spirit of taking baby steps, I break the verse down into manageable bits.
“Whatever is true… think about these things… practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Mental illness lies to us. Depression tells me I’m not worthy to take up space. Anxiety tells me they all think I’m stupid and I’m going to be fired. Hypomania tells me I can do anything I want, so go ahead and spend all the money.
The enemy of our souls lies to us. He tells me that I’ve messed up too much this time and God can’t use me. He shows me all the scriptures about the curse and what happens when people disobey God. And then he reminds me of everything I’ve ever done wrong to prove that God won’t help me this time.
But the Word of God is truth, and I can turn my mind to that.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I was unworthy, but now I’m in Christ and I’m covered by His worthiness.
II Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I am the righteousness of God in Christ.
Now that my eternal standing is established, I can turn my mind to my current situation.
If depression is telling me I’m broken and useless and why bother:
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
If anxiety is telling me I’m not going to make it this time:
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
When hypomania has strapped me into the roller coaster of drama:
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Practicing the truth of God’s Word, by reading it daily regardless of how I’m feeling, is what activates the peace of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Help is available. Peace is possible. In God’s Word.
How does God’s Word bring you peace?
Photo credit: dh_creative