Kait Tompkins
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I'm not ok. It's a phrase we hear all to often these days, as mental health issues continue to be on the rise. Our world is also full of potential solutions, some helpful, some not. But as a faith community, what we want to do as we wrestle with this topic over the next 6 weeks together, in our "I'm not Okay" series, is to allow Scripture to breathe new life, new wind, and new perspective into the topic of mental health.

Because sometimes Scripture might be seen as a weapon (whether used intentionally or unintentionally), aimed at those who struggle with mental health issues - especially those who have been suffering for a long time. Other times, Scripture might be seen as restrictive - making no allowance for the myriad of "negative" feelings that those struggling with any kind of mental illness (or even just normal difficult human experiences) have. And still other times it can seem isolating and irrelevant, like archaic words on a page that don't offer us helpful direction or hope in the pain.

But in this week's sermon, pastor Vijay took us through Psalm 42 - a Psalm that is riddled with tortured language and sentiments that many of us who have wrestled through mental health issues can relate to.  And if you listened to his sermon (which I highly recommend you do!), you noticed that he showed us how the Scriptures, and in particular Psalm 42, actually offer us 3 things in response to mental illness:

Permission to feel

Direction to follow

Communion to enjoy  

And so, this week, as we read through Psalm 42 together each day, I want you to use those 3 principles to reflect on how God might want to engage with you and minister to your heart, or to the heart of someone else, through what is written. The following questions might help guide your time of reflection each day:  

 

Daily Reflections  

Day 1  

  • Begin by reading through Psalm 42 slowly. What sticks out to you most in the Psalm? Which parts resonate with you the most? Pray a prayer to God in light of what comes up.  

Day 2: Permission

  • Begin by reading through Psalm 42 again slowly. What sticks out to you most in the Psalm today?
  • Where in this Psalm do I see signs that the Psalmist feels permission to be brutally honest with God about his feelings?
  • In which areas of my life and emotions do I need permission to be brutally honest with God today? Take some time to write down or pray out to God how you are feeling, good or bad, light or heavy, beautiful or broken.

Day 3: Direction

  • Begin by reading through Psalm 42 again slowly. What sticks out to you most in the Psalm today? 
  • The Psalmists direction in this Psalm is repeated several times, "put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." The Hebrew word translated hope here also means "to wait." Ask God - what does it look like for me to put my hope in (or wait on) you today? What does it look like to praise you even through difficulty? If you aren't in a season of difficulty or waiting yourself, then maybe you want to ask these questions on behalf of a friend or family member, and then pray for that they would encounter God's hope in their situation today.  

Day 4: Communion

  • Begin again by reading through Psalm 42 slowly. What sticks out to you most in the Psalm today?
  • Read verses 2, 5 and 11 again. Where have you been looking for hope outside of God? Confess these to Him.
  • It is in God's presence that true hope can be found. Pray a prayer that communicates the state of your relationship to God right now. How are things between you two? Then tell Him how you want them to be; draw near to Him as you pray. 

Day 5

  • Begin by reading through Psalm 42 again slowly. What sticks out to you most in the Psalm today? Has this changed over the last 5 days?  
  • Take some time to write your own Psalm to God in light of Psalm 42. You could do this for yourself, or even on behalf of a friend or loved one who is struggling. Then take some time to talk with God about what this experience has been like for you. Did you feel a greater sense of permission from Him? Direction? Communion? Thank Him for any insights that come up.