To help us empathize with mental sufferers, think about the disciples facing the fear of losing Jesus. Their security was threatened by the words of Jesus. The one who they had learned to trust was now speaking to them about disconnecting from them. The future suddenly looked very grim. As we process the emotions and thoughts of these disciples, we can see dread and foreboding grief. Let’s use this as a model of depression, anxiety and exaggerated emotional norms. We trusted God but now we are in great turmoil with shrinking hope.
The disciples heard Jesus telling them that he would leave for a time, but would be coming back. His reminders to them eventually cause them to ask what was the meaning in this. As the forecast of suffering increases, they may have still trusted Jesus, though the questions would be increasing. Faith is in tension with fear. How horrible they must have felt when the darkness increased and they saw Jesus arrested, crucified and buried. How could this happen?
The faith to believe that they would see him again would have evaporated from the well of their souls. The hope of seeing Jesus again is crushed into half of the truth—you will not see me.
Mental suffering often includes the death of faith as you knew it. God must be dead because he did not help me. God may be powerful, but God is not with me. I must have failed to please God and now I am being punished.
How can we help the one who suffers in this way? First, we must acknowledge that there is an inability to control their thoughts.