For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God was not surprised when I was diagnosed with depression in 1996. Nor was He surprised when I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder in 2008.
He didn’t start wringing His hands and wondering, “Now, how is she going to be able to do what I created her to do?”
The fact that I was born into a body broken by the sin of Adam never once worried God. Because what matters is my relationship with Him.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
The Philippians were partners with Paul and, by extension, partners with God. And Paul knew that when we partner with God, He accomplishes His will through us.
The obstacles we face along the way can’t stop this truth. Physical prison couldn’t stop Paul and mental and emotional prisons can’t stop us.
Of course, there are times when I don’t publish a blog post one week because I spent all my writing time wrestling with the lies in my mind. But then I win the battle in my mind and I publish a post the next week.
But I’ve lost more than a week or two to mental illness. I spent decades in survival mode, when my only goal was to stay alive. I had no interest or energy to consider what God’s purpose for my life was.
There were many times when my conversations with God started out with, “Sorry, but you’re going to have to cover me with your grace today, because the bare minimum is all I can hope for. And I may not even reach that.”
And He covered me with His grace. And He kept me alive to fight another day. And He even, somehow, used my measly efforts to advance His Kingdom, if only by millimeters.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
It goes beyond God just being patient with us, waiting for us to get healthy enough to be used by Him. When we give our lives to Him, He will even use our struggles to fulfill His good purpose.
God used Paul’s time in physical prison to prompt the writing of letters that would become the bulk of the New Testament. In the same way, He used Jeremiah’s mental prison, his despair, to write the book of Lamentations – a book presenting hope in spite of everything.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
And He used David’s mental struggles to write deeply moving psalms.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Even though I went through times when my mental illness kept me from “doing anything for God,” His plans for me never changed. He worked in me while I was ill, in ways I may never know; and when I got better, He was right there beside me leading me to fulfill His good purpose.
Now that I’m in a place of stability, where I don’t live every day with the symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder, I’m seeing the fulfillment of this promise. On one hand, I have people tell me how this blog has helped them and encouraged them. On the other hand, I’ve lived the victory of actually having the energy and clarity of mind to write coherently on a regular basis.
Yes, I still struggle. I’m still a fallen human in a fallen world. But God has proven to me over and over again that He can and will accomplish His will through me.
And His promises don’t just apply to me. They apply to all of us who have been born again in Christ.
I Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
You are God’s special possession. Mental illness can’t change that. Because He’s the one doing the work.
How is God fulfilling His purpose in your life, in spite of mental illness or even because of it?
Photo credit: Maryam62