When I was first diagnosed with a mental illness (bipolar disorder), I had an all or nothing approach that included Option A: a devastated life with mental illness, or Option B: complete and perfect healing by God. That was the only way I could think about it. And, in fact, I believe the church taught me to think about it in those terms. As I worked through the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of mental illness, I came to realize there was a better choice. I could accept mental illness and overcome it through diligence on my part and faith in God’s part until I reached a point of recovery, which is not the same as healing. Recovery means living with it, but overcoming it with God’s help.
That’s what I liked most about Brad Hoefs’ book, Fresh Hope. He emphasized recovery as the goal and that goal gives us hope and motivation. We can take steps, sometimes baby steps, towards living with a mental illness. We can do more than cope with our condition; we can have hope to overcome it and live a life of victory and fulfillment. In other words, mental illness doesn’t have to hold us back from the life we wanted. Sure, some things will change, such as taking medication, but that doesn’t mean we can’t thrive in spite of our mental health condition. We are overcomers in Christ.
I was also pleased to find this wasn’t a “rah-rah” cheerleading approach that sees only rosy-colored outcomes. Because of Brad Hoefs’ own struggle with bipolar disorder, he knows the depths of despair and the difficult days of learning to take every thought captive to bring it to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Recovery is hard work. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we fall down. But taking back your life requires work and God will help you along the way. This is an opportunity to build a relationship with God like never before so lean into Him and don’t give up on your life just because of a mental illness diagnosis. God gives us hope.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Tweetable Quotes from Fresh Hope:
Brad Hoefs with Dr. Michael Egger
Preview Fresh Hope