In spite of all the research, brain images, and education programs that exist some Catholic and non-Catholic Christians still believe mental and emotional ills depression and anxiety in particular are due to a lack of faith. Of course, when that belief is stated verbally or insinuated it only worsens the situation for the person suffering.
Here is something to consider. When a person wakes up in the middle of the night from a sound sleep with heart pounding and a sense of dread beyond comprehension lack of faith or a scant prayer life isn’t the issue. Nor is it an issue when lifelike images of stabbing one’s self with a knife simply shoot into one’s mind from nowhere while talking to friends at a party.
A person on the outside has no clue about such internal struggles especially if the only words heard are, “I just feel so depressed all the time” or “sometimes I get this feeling of panic.” It’s easy to judge such a person doesn’t really have the illness but rather “what we all have from time to time.” That’s when insinuations and advice are given from assumed knowledge by personal experience. Adolescents verbalize it well. “You just don’t understand!”
Our Lord says, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).” He also explains how entertained thoughts, even seemingly justified ones, are as much a sin as subsequent actions. So be careful, you who think that you think with correctness.
Those of you who struggle with any mental or emotional distress remember this. No matter how awful you feel when you pour out your heart in pain and complaint to God in the privacy of your bedroom you have faith, perhaps more than those who think you don’t. God will answer in some way, shape, or form. You are not alone.
Here is a prayer that is also a verbal act of faith you don’t need to feel that can be said after a good heart pouring.
I trust in the Lord:
My soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than sentinels wait for the dawn.
[Let me] hope in the Lord.
Psalm 130: 5-7