Finding Hope Series Pt 1

Part 1: Biblical Examples of Emotional Struggles

Welcome to our blog post series Finding Hope: A Series on Overcoming Struggles. Today we will explore the stories of three prominent Biblical figures who experienced struggles and how they dealt with them. As a Christian, it can be easy to feel like we need to have everything together and that our struggles are a sign of weakness or lack of faith. However, the Bible is filled with examples of individuals who experienced what could be regarded as mental health struggles, and we can learn a lot from their stories.

One of the most powerful examples of mental health struggles is the story of Job. Job was a very wealthy man who lost everything; his possessions, his family, and his health. Job struggled to make sense of his suffering. All he had left was his own life and his severely tested faith. He experienced intense emotional pain and struggled to understand why he was suffering, questioning his purpose in life, and certainly God's presence in his life. He laments, "Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?...Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul,” (Job 3:11-20, ESV). Instead of finding comfort in his friends, they only added to his distress by offering him well-meaning but unhelpful advice. However, Job remained steadfast in his faith and eventually received healing, restoration, and God's overwhelming blessing.

The prophet Elijah is a well-known figure in the Bible who experienced a severe episode of anxiety and fear, culminating in a death threat from Queen Jezebel after he had performed many miracles and confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. In 1 Kings 19 we read that this threat caused him to fear for his life, and he eventually ran and hid himself in a cave. He felt overwhelmed and alone and cried out to God to take his life. God met him in his despair and provided him with the rest and encouragement he needed to continue in his calling. Elijah's struggle with fear and anxiety may be something we can relate to. Our encouragement is in his time of need, he turned to God, who revealed Himself to him in a gentle whisper, encouraging him and giving him a renewed sense of purpose.

Another prominent example is that of King David. David was a man after God's own heart, yet he experienced a range of emotional struggles. In the Psalms, David pours out his heart to God, expressing his feelings of despair, anxiety, and grief. David describes his anguish and pain in Psalm 38 saying, “My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.” (Psalm 38:5-6, ESV). Yet, despite his struggles and sin, David turned to God for comfort and forgiveness. He found hope in God's mercy and grace and used his experiences in Psalms to encourage others to trust in God.

The stories of Elijah, Job, and David show us that struggles are not new and that they can affect anyone, even those who are close to God. We are not infallible, and those who seem to be faithful and strong can also experience moments of doubt, fear, anger, depression, and anxiety. However, these stories also demonstrate how faith can provide hope and comfort in the midst of suffering. We are not alone in our struggles, we can stand firm by turning to God for strength and comfort. In fact, time spent reading the Bible, replete with hope and encouragement for those struggling, can have a profound and positive impact. In Psalm 34:18, David writes, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (ESV).
Scripture reveals that even Jesus faced desperate anguish. While praying in the garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives, Luke 22 describes Jesus as “being in anguish He prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Jesus goes so far as to say “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38; cf. Mark 14:34). Certainly, in His human state, Jesus did not want to endure the impending torturous death and, being God, He knew “all that was going to happen to Him” (John 18:4). Jesus asked the Father to “take this cup of suffering away,” yet Jesus also prayed “Not my will, but yours be done.” Hebrews 12:2 confirms why Jesus did it: “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God,” and Hebrews further encourages us “to look to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith” (ESV).

As Christians, we can find comfort in the knowledge that God understands our struggles and He is always present to offer us hope and healing. Let us be encouraged by the examples of David, Elijah, Job, and, most especially, Jesus, and to turn to God the Father in times of mental and emotional distress. If you or someone you know is struggling, know that you are not alone, and there is always hope.

Valeta Baty, Author

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