A dear friend of mine recently lost his young daughter in a horrific tragedy. I wanted to comfort him, but the gravity of his loss, and the manner in which it occurred, left me speechless. I had no words that could erase his bitter heartache - even my prayers seemed to fall flat. For months I sought to find understanding, purpose, or hope in her passing . . . but how could there be a divine plan to such an atrocity? Whoever said God would not give us more than we can handle was flat wrong – this was way too much for anyone. Sure God’s Word promises that His grace will be sufficient for us in our time of need, and that His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) . . . but how do we acquire this grace in our darkest nights, when there simply is no answer to the question “why?” And how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction of a loving and faithful God who could . . .

In part one of this article, I shared about Mark, whose daughter was killed by a serial killer. Mark is still wrestling through his anger and pain, but learning he can choose forgiveness even when his emotions tell him otherwise. Mark has discovered that his only responsibility is to engage his will; the "heavy work" of forgiveness is God's part.  For many of us, our journey towards freedom begins by duty, and we just have to “fake it till we make it.” We may only have a weak “yes” to offer God as we continue to flounder about in turmoil, but this is actually all God needs to work in our lives. Since we are shaped by what we practice, if we choose to pray for our enemies even when we do not feel like it, and we persist in obedience and surrender, somewhere along the way . . .

I check my schedule when I get to the office and notice that a patient was accidentally booked in two appointment slots. My schedule is typically full, so I notify the front office so they can open that spot in case someone calls that day needing to be seen. Later that morning I realize who filled this opening and I begin to fret inside. What possibly could I do or say to help this patient? His daughter was killed just a few weeks prior by a serial killer, and the memorial service happened to be four years to the day after his wife’s memorial service . . .

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it hurts? Your thoughts are consumed with dreams, plans, or prayers to make it happen . . . but you have no control over the outcome. So how do you handle the heartbreak when your hopes are shattered instead of fulfilled?

A few years ago, I wrote an article titled “Dealing with Disappointment” about my struggle with infertility. Even after God gave us Connor through in-vitro fertilization, my longings continued for a second child. Bob and I pushed forward through many more rounds of fertility treatments, and I had a second pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage . . . but we never had another child.  I was devasated.

But here I am years later, and my heart is in a different place. One moment radically changed my interpretation of these events (and my entire relationship with God), so here's the rest of the story . . .

God created us with a body, soul, and spirit, and each of these parts play a role in our mental health. In my last article, I discussed the biological and psychological components of mental health, addressing when medication or counseling may be beneficial to help an individual recover (Read HERE). In this article, I will attempt to address some of the spiritual components of mental health, and explain when medication may not be beneficial for symptoms of depression. I will try and differentiate between suffering which carries a divine purpose, from that which requires medical intervention.  This is a complicated topic, one that a short blog can never comprehensively address, but my goal is to at least touch on some of these spiritual issues, possibly uncovering . . .

In my 16 years as a physician assistant, I have treated hundreds of patients for different forms of mental illness, from simple cases of mild anxiety and depression, to unstable bipolar or schizophrenic patients (including suicidal patients that required involuntarily admission for treatment). Some patients came to me begging for help, while others wore their symptoms with shame, hesitant to admit they were struggling. I have found that some people, Christians in particular, resist treatment for mental illness because they believe taking medication is a sign of weakness (or lack of faith in God). But if this were the case . . . 

It has been a rough week.

What are we supposed to do when our dreams are crushed and our heart’s deepest desires left unfulfilled? Life doesn’t always hand us what we want.  It can leave us grieving, longing for something untouchable.

God graciously granted us a child in 2008 after years of trying to conceive, including five rounds of fertility treatments.  Connor brings great joy into our lives so I do not mean to minimize the gift he is by sharing our recent struggles . . . but we really wanted another child.  I had vivid dreams about positive pregnancy tests and nursing my newborn in the hospital, but now after five more fertility treatments and a miscarriage, we are heartbroken.  Hundreds of shots and thousands of dollars later, still no baby.

Since this round of fertility treatments did not work, I found myself questioning . . .