Finding Strength and Support in Scripture
Jul 26, 2019 · Scott Hoezee
It’s very tempting to think of our physical nature as separate from our spiritual nature. But the reality is, God created us as whole beings. When we struggle with mental and emotional stress, we often note physical side effects like sickness and fatigue. Similarly, when a person receives a painful or life-changing physical diagnosis like cancer or Multiple Sclerosis, they engage their mental and emotional natures to process their new reality. In the same way, anything we face mentally, physically, or emotionally also impacts our faith.
Although we might hope to never have a loved one diagnosed with dementia or have a friend suffer from clinical depression, the fact is most of us will face struggles of these kinds eventually. Certainly, as sisters and brothers in Christ within the community of the Church we are called to carry one another’s burdens in these areas as well. In our Groundwork series, “Finding Strength and Support in Scripture,” we will consider four very painful, often debilitating mental and physical conditions that, sooner or later, we will all deal with inside our church communities and families. Together, we’ll seek comforting guidance from Scripture to help all of us cope when we or the people we love face the reality of living with conditions like these.
When we first encounter terms like dementia, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, or terminal illness they can be confusing, unsettling, and even misleading. Most of us have some understanding and vague knowledge about these conditions, but we’re often still hesitant or uncertain about what to say or how to help when someone we know shares their circumstances. Unfortunately, stigmas and discomfort unnecessarily surround these conditions.
In “Finding Strength and Support in Scripture,” we work to demystify these conditions by asking questions like: What is dementia and how does it differ from getting a tad forgetful as you get older? What is true depression and how is it different from just having a down day once in a while? What is anxiety and how does its severity and paralyzing nature differ from other worries? And finally what do people dealing with chronic pain, chronic illness, or even a terminal diagnosis go through and how can those of us who do not face such difficulties understand what that is like?
Hosts David Bast and Scott Hoezee are joined in this series by three guests who bring insight and expertise to bear on the subjects of this series. Suzanne McDonald of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, has studied and taught much about dementia and regularly leads congregational workshops on the subject. She brings an informed and thoughtful voice to our first episode. Chuck DeGroat, also of Western Theological Seminary, has years of pastoral and clinical experience in the area of mental health. He helps us clarify key issues and makes solid suggestions in our second and third episodes dealing with depression and anxiety. Finally, Chelsey Harmon is a pastor who has herself suffered for many years from chronic, debilitating physical pain. Her personal experience as both a believer and a pastor brings rich insights to our final episode on chronic pain and illness.
Seeking Strength and Support
As Christians, we want to dig into God’s Word to see what comfort and guidance Scripture can offer to individuals, to caregivers, and to all members of the Church who might find themselves dealing with difficult diagnoses and new realities. The Bible may not specifically mention illnesses like Alzheimer’s Disease, but Scripture does contain the full range of human experience. Surely, then, God’s Word can offer insight, comfort, and also encouragement.
Join us as we consider questions like: How can we find strength in our faith when confronted with a difficult diagnosis? How can we encourage and help people dealing with these conditions? What things are we sometimes tempted to say that might actually make matters worse? What actions or services can we offer to those in need that will genuinely be useful to them?
The Comfort of God
Scripture promises us that when God’s kingdom fully comes and this creation is restored and renewed, God will wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:1-5). What a glorious thing to anticipate! For now, though, we all know that we live in the “already and the not yet,” in the in-between time after Easter, but before God’s final consummation of all things.
The topics we consider in this Groundwork series cause people to weep on a daily basis. These things hurt! But we trust our God to stand with us during such trials and we look to God’s Word to bring us encouragement and some degree of solace. God is faithful! And God is ever with us.
We invite you to join us as we seek spiritual guidance and comfort for our physical, mental, and emotional needs through our Groundwork series “Finding Strength and Support in Scripture”:
- Faith and Dementia - Genesis 1:26-27, Colossians 3:1-4, and Romans 8:26-27, 35-39
- Faith and Depression - Psalm 88, Psalm 42, and John 16:33
- Faith and Anxiety- Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:4-9
- Faith and Chronic Pain or Illness - Romans 8:18-26 and Psalm 13
...and together we can learn how to weep with those who weep and help one another carry the burdens that come to us.