Where Can Hope Be Found When My Mental Health Struggles Make Life Seem Not Worth Living?

Question from a reader:

I am in constant mental anguish with no escape until I die.  I have endured horrible depression my whole life. Yet I was surviving and toughing it out until now. Everything I had left to cope and live with has been taken, both from a malicious assault and brain injury. I am now alone, purposeless, loveless, friendless, careerless, sleepless, and writing in torment. 

At this time, I am either going to die a gruesome tortured ending, unless I were to speed it up. Flat out, there are no other options available. Standard "help," as it’s called, is useless in my case. 

Answer from Doreen Button:

My heart breaks for the trials you are facing. From what you’ve shared, you are in a very dark place that feels lonely, evil, and very frightening.

EPM is a small ministry. Our work is to share the Good News of Jesus with as many people as possible through Randy’s writing and through supporting other worthy ministries. We are not a counseling ministry and therefore do not have the capacity to give you the help you need, so we won’t be able to engage in ongoing communication and support. What we can do is offer hope and deposit some truth which I pray will sustain you as you continue your search for healing.  We also highly encourage you to seek out in-person help. Listed below are some resources to get you started.

Your writing did not give me a clear picture of where you stand with Jesus. I understand that you believe in God. Have you surrendered your body and soul to Jesus and trusted in His once-for-all blood sacrifice on your behalf? If you have not yet, you must. Your life is short by eternity’s standards and no one knows when their last chance to trust Jesus will be.

You mentioned that you had two options: “to be slowly killed by what is happening…or to get the guts to cut it short.” Cutting your life short does not take guts. Enduring and trusting that God keeps His promise to “work all things for good to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28) takes far more guts. As horrifying as your life seems now and as much as it feels like Hell, it is not Hell. Hell is eternal misery, separated from all good and all hope. The horrors you experience here will end at death if Jesus is your King and Savior. If He is not, the horrors you now endure will pale in comparison. Choose Jesus and choose life. You will never regret it. The alternative is eternal regret.

The rest of what I want to share is based on the assumption that you have chosen Jesus. If that is not the case, skip to the end where I offer a few links for possible help.

Your words imply that you believe you are beyond help, that no doctor or counselor or pill will take away your pain. Yet you reached out for help, so on some level you are hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice through the clamor of battle. That is very good news. Keep listening to that voice. Keep reaching for His hand and reading His words. I picture you being somewhat like Peter. You’ve stepped out of the boat in the middle of a life-threatening storm. But your eyes turned from Jesus and now your sole focus is on the storm. When Peter looked away, he sank and felt like he would drown. And Jesus could have let him—it was no more than he deserved. But He didn’t; He reached out and helped Peter back into the boat.

Read the Psalms out loud and as often as you possibly can. And when you can’t, listen to them. Play them when you wake up and when you lay your head on your pillow. Fill your mind with God’s words constantly. Don’t worry about how much you understand—the Holy Spirit knows how to cut through the fog.

Psalm 30 is a good start. It’s both a cry for deliverance and a Psalm of trust that God sees and hears and cares and will rescue:

I will exalt You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up and have not allowed my foes to rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O LORD, You pulled me up from Sheol; You spared me from descending into the Pit. Sing to the LORD, O you His saints, and praise His holy name. For His anger is fleeting, but His favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may stay the night, but joy comes in the morning. In prosperity I said, “I will never be shaken.” O LORD, You favored me; You made my mountain stand strong. When You hid Your face, I was dismayed. To You, O LORD, I called, and I begged my Lord for mercy: “What gain is there in my bloodshed, in my descent to the Pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it proclaim Your faithfulness? Hear me, O LORD, and have mercy; O LORD, be my helper.” You turned my mourning into dancing; You peeled off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing Your praises and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks forever.

David, when writing Psalm 30, does what God asks us all to do: thank Him, cry out to Him with every trouble, and trust that He will keep all His promises regardless of how things look right now. We cannot see all that is happening, nor can we understand everything perfectly. We must take the one next step in front of us, and make sure that step is toward God.

Proverbs 3:5,6 says, “Trust the LORD with ALL your heart…acknowledge Him in everything and He shall direct  your path.” That’s Peter (and you) keeping your focus on Jesus regardless of the storm swirling around you. The Proverb also says “Don’t lean on your own understanding.” That’s Peter (and you) taking his eyes off Jesus and sinking.

Remember Jesus’ torment on the cross just for you. He had a choice and could have dodged all that pain. He knew it was temporary suffering with an eternity of glory after that (see 2 Corinthians 4:17). And you were worth it all to Him. Your feelings tell you something, and they do matter, but they don’t always tell the truth. And the more you listen to them and look inward, the more lies they will tell.

When Jesus was taken to the wilderness and tested by the enemy (Matthew 4), He battled His accuser with the truth. And He won that battle. Charles Spurgeon wrote this wisdom, “we shall be tempted; hence the prayer ‘deliver us from evil.’ God had one Son without sin; but He has no son without temptation…We must always be on our watch against Satan, because, like a thief, he gives no intimation of his approach…Prevention is better than cure: it is better to be so well armed that the devil will not attack you, than to endure the peril of the fight, even though you come off as a conqueror.”

The Word of God is our sword…the one offensive weapon in the “armor of God.” Use it, trust it, marinate in it, live it.

I wish I could be of more help to you. I pray fervently that you will “see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” But even if you don’t actually see that goodness, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27), that goodness is there and He is working on your behalf.

You are not alone in this battle. Although EPM cannot offer help to the degree of your need, we stand with you in prayer, including prayer that you will continue to seek help and that you will trust that God, who promises to supply ALL our needs (Philippians 4:19), knows, sees, and cares about what you’re going through. Psalm 23 speaks of the valley of the shadow of death. Every valley has a beginning and an end, and our Good Shepherd walks beside us through it. And at the end of that valley, if we continue to follow our Shepherd and not turn back, waits a banquet with the King. Keep your eyes on your eternal future and know the hope, even when, and especially when you can’t feel it.

I leave you with this blessing, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Here are some options for finding help:

ABC: association of biblical counselors referral link

Focus on the Family Counseling Consultation and Referrals: “The consultation is available at no cost to you due to generous donor support and will be with one of our licensed or pastoral counseling specialists.”

K-Love: Need to talk? Call our Pastors at (800) 525-LOVE (5683)

Photo by Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash

Doreen Button is one of Randy Alcorn’s staff editors, a certified biblical counselor with r3stored.com, and provides ministry support through lifeimpact.care.

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