I believe in miracles. I believe that God can cure any and all illnesses. But I also believe that God has equipped me with tools to assist in my own healing, like compassionate doctors providing my care and global scientists constantly learning more about medicine.
I pray daily for God to heal my Crohn’s Disease, but I also see a gastroenterologist. I take my prescribed immunosuppressant, I undergo a variety of tests to track my progress, and I also research complementary treatments. None of this means I don’t trust in God’s ability to heal. Rather, I trust that God has a plan for my life, and that plan includes my journey with Crohn’s Disease.
I also pray daily for help with my anxiety and depression, but I also see a nurse practitioner of psychiatry as well as a therapist. I take my prescribed antidepressant, and I look into resources and techniques to manage my mental illnesses. Again, I trust God with my mental health, but that looks like accepting help from professionals.
Christians can have strong faith while still accepting that God won’t always answer our prayers exactly as we request. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, prayer warriors worldwide joined my family in praying for miraculous healing.
My mom still died.
God didn’t provide the miracle we all so desperately wanted.
And yet, I still believe in miracles. I still believe in the power of prayer. God didn’t heal my mom, but God stayed with me constantly, even in the depths of my despair.
Seeking professional help for mental health problems is not a sign of weak faith. At a certain point, just like you wouldn’t ignore medical help for a broken leg, you shouldn’t ignore medical help for mental illness.
Of course, the opposite of all of this is true. Just because you need medical care doesn’t mean you should stop praying. Just because you need help from other people doesn’t mean God has abandoned you or ignored your prayers.
Resources for Christians Struggling
For Christians struggling in life, we often need a combination of secular and religious resources. Medical treatment and prayer. Loved ones and the Bible.
My college friend Liz has written some great posts about faith and therapy over on her own blog.
- Debunking Six Myths about Therapy (one myth directly addresses faith!)
- I’m Not Making Any Sense, Am I? (a personal look at faith and therapy)
- Navigating Grief and Loss
Some of the resources I use for my mental health include books written by Christians. These are all books I’ve purchased or received to help me with my grief, my mental illnesses, and my emotional wounds from a lifetime of Crohn’s Disease. Over the past 18 months, I’ve read through these books on my own, while also going to therapy regularly. The combination has greatly helped me.
Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might earn a commission, at no cost to you. Also, one book is a review copy, but my recommendation is sincere.
It’s Okay Not to Be Okay: Moving Forward One Day at a Time by Sheila Walsh
Book summary from Amazon:
We’ve all experienced that moment where we wish we could start all over again. Failed marriages, lost friends, addictions, lost jobs. This is not the life we imagined. Yesterday can sometimes leave us stuck, sad, shamed, scared, and searching. Sheila Walsh encourages readers to face the pain head on and then start again, from right where they are. She shares that when she discovered “I’m not good enough and I’m good with that,” everything started to change.
In It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, Walsh helps women overcome the same old rut of struggles and pain by changing the way they think about God, themselves, and their everyday lives. She shares practical, doable, daily strategies that will help women move forward one step at a time knowing God will never let them down.
I read this book slowly. Most chapters I read through twice. Each chapter ends with reflection questions and exercises, all of which I attempted honestly.
I ended up writing about my hurt and pain over my mother’s death, my struggles with Crohn’s Disease, and the compounding pain of not having a child. Today, when I look over my written prayers, I marvel at far I’m come. Yes, I’m still in pain. I still grieve. I still question. But I no longer live with daily anguish from my life.
It Is Well | Anxiety Study by The Daily Grace Co.
Book summary from The Daily Grace Co.:
It Is Well is a three-week study on anxiety. This study encourages women to go to the Lord with their worries and anxieties, and to rest in His all-sufficient grace. The study walks through Scripture and points to the source of our hope in all of life’s anxieties. We are reminded that God can redeem even our fear, worry, and anxiety for our good and for His glory. This study is designed to point you to God, to help you to know Him more, and to equip you with the Word of God to turn from anxious thoughts and into the Father’s arms. We are praying that it will encourage and comfort you.
Each week contains five days of study material, including daily study questions. Each week also has a memory verse day and a weekly reflection day to help dig deeper into Scripture.
This was an amazing Bible study and devotion that I finished a month or so ago. While I didn’t agree with all of the biblical interpretation, the overall message is one of hope in Christ, our savior. The daily study questions helped me dig deeper into my struggles, my faith, my understanding of the Bible, and my need for constant prayer.
I also appreciate the disclaimer both on the website and in the book itself that this study is not a replacement for professional help.
I do wish the weekly reflection was a bit different. The questions are the same each week, and my honest answers each week were largely the same too. Questions more specific to the weekly scripture readings would have pushed me more.
Mourning & Dancing Study Book by She Reads Truth
Book summary from She Reads Truth:
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven.—Ecclesiastes 3:1
This two-week reading plan will lead us through a series of passages from Scripture that examine the seasons of mourning and dancing in the life of a believer. Our prayer for this study is that you would experience growth rooted in the truth of God’s Word through both sorrow and joy, examine sorrow and joy in light of Scripture and in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and discover anew the privilege and practice of prayer.
I wish I had discovered this book a few years ago, when my grief was harder to bear. While I’m still in a heavy season of waiting, and new pain has entered my life, I struggled to write out distinctive laments. I did the first two days of this Bible study, but my written laments (prayers) felt forced.
However, I just realized that the She Reads Truth website has additional devotional readings to go along with this Bible reading plan. I will start over with this book, read the online devotions, and skip the personal laments for now. The online reading plan is completely free, so you don’t need to buy the study book. I bought the book because I’m more focused in my Bible reading and devotions if I don’t have any screens around me. I also like to underline passages and write notes in my Christian books.
Broken and Beautiful: Let God Turn Your Mess into a Masterpiece by Christine Soule
Note: I received a paperback copy of this book in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.
Book summary from Amazon:
Do you ever feel stuck? Overwhelmed by fear? Do you worry that if people really knew the secrets you hide, they wouldn’t want you? Do you wonder why you’re even here?
The things you hate about your life are the very things that excite God most. Your past doesn’t repel Him and your present doesn’t intimidate Him—because He knows what He can do with them! The places where you feel hopeless are exactly what He wants to redeem and fill with beauty, dignity, and strength. He has a plan for your pain. A wonderful intention for your failures. A purpose for your hardest, darkest stories.
In Broken and Beautiful, Christine Soule shares the message of hope as she tells how God took the pieces of her own broken life—childhood abuse, poverty, human trafficking, and more—and turned them all into breathtaking joy and purpose. Told with honesty and humor, this is the story of a drug-addicted stripper’s transformation into an exuberant Jesus lover with a passion for meeting others in their journey and watching God’s love mend them together.
Broken and Beautiful is Soule’s memoir about the many tragedies and bad choices in her life, and how God saved her, over and over. She experienced abuse, drug addition, teenage pregnancy, and so much more during her formative years.
Soule weaves together her own story with relevant scripture verses, writing in a conversational way. Each chapter centers around a theme, ending with reflection questions.
Soule’s overall message is strong and simple: God doesn’t need us to be perfect. God loves us anyway. With God’s help, we can conquer sin and improve our lives.
In college I had a pastor who frequently said (and I paraphrase): “No one is so bad that you’re beyond God’s grace, and no one is so good that you don’t need God’s grace.” While I don’t agree with everything Soule says, I still recommend this book for anyone who thinks they aren’t good enough.
Final Thoughts on Christian Books for Depression and Grief
Sometimes life is hard, but you don’t have to go through life alone. God is always with you.
If you’re struggling with painful circumstances right now, help is available. These Christian books have helped me with my own problems, alongside consistent prayer, therapy, and a daily antidepressant. There is a not a “one size fits all” solution to mental health issues.
What books would you recommend for Christians going through a hard time? Post in the comments!