When Someone You Love Is Not Okay: A Conversation About Mental Health Part 2

2024 Messages

In Part 2 of a two-part series, TA talks about being the right friend or family member when you know someone who is struggling with mental health.

Timothy "TA" AteekMay 12, 2024

In This Series (5)
When Someone You Love Is Not Okay: A Conversation About Mental Health Part 2
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 12, 2024
When You’re Not Okay: A Conversation About Mental Health Part 1
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 5, 2024
Easter 2024 | John 11:17-44
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 31, 2024
Good Friday 2024
Dave BruskasMar 29, 2024
Vision Sunday 2024
Timothy "TA" AteekJan 7, 2024

Key Takeaways

Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

In order for us to experience God as shelter and refuge, we often need good friends and family members who can call us in to take shelter in Christ in the midst of the storm. As members of Watermark, Jesus has saved us into a family and put His Spirit inside each one of us so that we can help one another experience and enjoy life in Christ. The last thing we want to do is hurt instead of help one another as we seek to pursue life in Christ in the midst of battling mental health. Here are three ways we can become good comforters to those in our lives who might be struggling with mental health.

Good comforters hear and see when someone is not okay (Job 2:11-13). It is helpful to know what to look for. Pay attention when someone is:

  • Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
  • Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
  • Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Waking up too early or sleeping too much
  • Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
  • Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Feeling fatigued‚ even after sleeping well
  • Inability to accomplish daily tasks or work responsibilities
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Increased negative talk
  • Increased substance use
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself

Good comforters prioritize presence (Job 2:13). Job's friends initially don’t just try to fix Job. They enter into Job’s pain with him. And then they just sit with him for seven days and seven nights without saying a word. The best comforters value presence with patience.

Good comforters seek to comfort instead of call out with the truth. If you know someone who is struggling with mental health, there is a difference between seeking to comfort them with truth and seeking to call them out with truth. Instead of calling someone out with Philippians 4:6-7, what if you read it and said: “Don’t despair. Let’s keep pressing in together. God is glorified when we seek him. Let’s keep doing what Scripture calls us to do. Let’s ask of God. Let’s thank God. Let’s continue to believe that God can bring peace in his timing and in his way.”

If someone is struggling with mental health, there is a good chance they already feel like a failure. They already feel deficient and that they are failing God. The last thing they need is for you to put an exclamation point on those thoughts.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

For those struggling with mental health, remember Jesus, who on the night he was arrested, was grieved to the point of death. And yet He endured the cross and conquered Satan, sin, and death so that in the midst of your struggle you can by faith have hope in Him that He has ensured a day when mental illness will be no more. And yet in the meantime, He is with you actively to comfort and provide what you need to endure.

And for those not struggling with mental health, may you ask God to give you, by His Spirit in you, the selflessness of Christ to be able to look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. This is the way of Jesus, the eternal Son of God who became man, who was selfless enough to become obedient to the point of death on a cross for the salvation and comfort of all those who would put their trust in Him. In Him, may we selflessly give of ourselves to be good comforters with the love and comfort of our Lord and Savior.

  • Do you know anyone who is struggling with mental health? How can you best care for and walk with them through it?
  • One of the best ways to express care for someone is by asking good questions:
    • I care about you, here is what I have noticed, would you be willing to share how you feel like you are doing?
    • Can you identify anything that caused you to start feeling this way?
    • How long have you been feeling this way? Do you have a history of feeling this way?
    • Does anyone else know that you have been feeling this way?
    • How do you cope with how you are feeling?
    • Have you had thoughts about ending your life? Do you have a plan to end your life?
  • How does Christ provide what you need in caring for someone who struggles with mental health? How can you point them to Christ through being a patient, present friend?

Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? Good to see you. Happy Mother's Day. Moms, this is your day. You deserve to be celebrated and honored. Today, we celebrate your strength, your love, your endurance, your wisdom, and your selflessness. I hope today is an awesome day for you.

I also know, as Summer mentioned so beautifully… I would imagine that when I say, "Happy Mother's Day," it brings feelings of sadness for some of you, whether there's an unfulfilled dream of being a mom or maybe you're a mom who has lost a child or maybe you have a prodigal child who you won't connect with today or maybe you have a prodigal mom. There are so many different scenarios here.

For you, I just want to say I'm so glad you're here today. It says something about your strength that you would come and lean into the Lord today to worship him. My hope is that at the exact same time in this space many would feel celebrated and many would feel comforted. I just want to take a second and pray for the moms in the room, and then we're going to pray for ourselves as we jump into the Word. Would you pray with me?

Lord, I do thank you for every mother in this room, and I pray that today they would feel honored and celebrated. God, I pray that they would feel deeply loved and seen. Thank you, God, for how you have strengthened them and sustained them through the highs and the lows of motherhood. I just pray your blessing upon them, that today they would rest in your goodness to them. For everyone here who just needs your comfort, God, I thank you that you are always near to the brokenhearted and you save the crushed in spirit.

Friends, I want to invite you now, as we turn our attention to studying the Word of God. Would you pray, just as we do every week, and ask God to speak clearly to you this morning? Then would you pray for the people around you, the other people in this room, and ask God, by the power of his Spirit, to speak to them as well? Then would you pray for me and ask God to speak through me to you today?

Lord, this time is yours, and we're grateful that you have gone to great lengths to speak to us. Give us ears to hear and hearts to receive. I pray that there would not be one person here today who just goes through the motions without meeting with you. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.

Right after college, I went on a backpacking trip. It was Young Life's Wilderness Ranch trip with a group of high school guys, which meant we were out on the trail backpacking for a week. I will never forget this one experience where one day we were hiking and our guides lost the trail. We found ourselves in wide open space. There was no trail, but we were making our way down this steep hillside.

Because of how steep it was, we were having to traverse down it. We couldn't just walk straight down it. We were moving back and forth. As we were moving back and forth, carefully, down this steep hillside, the sky opened up and began to pour hail upon us. This calculated descent turned into mass chaos. I mean, it was every man for himself.

I looked to one side, and there was a guy who was like, "The quickest way down is just to somersault down," so with his 50-pound pack, he was just going one end over another, like, "This is going to hurt, but I'm going to get down fast." That's how he chose to get down. Other people began to pick up the pace, running back and forth, traversing their way down. People like me, who are more cautious, were just taking the pain of the hail and making our way down.

I got to the bottom of this slope, and the best thing was happening, because our guides, who had become our friends, had beaten us to the bottom. They had strung up tarps between these trees, and they were waving us in, calling us in to come and take shelter. I remember… I mean, it was pouring hail, and all it took was one step in the right direction, and I found myself under a shelter, experiencing peace, as the hail continued.

I tell you that because, as I think about that story, I'm reminded of what the Scriptures say about God in Psalm 46:1. It says, "God is our refuge…" He is our shelter. "…and strength, a very present help in trouble." The reason I share that with you is we are in a two-week series on mental health. If you have ever struggled with mental health, then you know it can feel a lot like being in a storm where you have lost the trail.

There can be times where there is no sign of daylight breaking, and it can feel very difficult and painful to try to keep going when you don't have the energy to do it and you feel directionless in the midst of the storm, whether it's depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or some other disorder. The reality is even in the midst of the storms of mental health issues, God is a shelter. He is a refuge. He is a very present help in trouble.

He wants us to seek him and find him and take shelter in him, but many of us need a few good friends, just like our guides, in the midst of our struggles, who can wave us in and call us in to come and find shelter in Jesus Christ. So, that's what we want to talk about today. If you were not with us last week, I'd encourage you to go back and listen to the message. It's all about what to do when you are not okay, when you are battling a mental health issue.

Today is a message for those who aren't battling mental health but want to be a good friend or family member to someone who is. This is about how to help someone who is not okay. So, if you have a Bible, I want to invite you to turn with me to Job, chapter 2. Last week and this week, we're looking at the life of Job, who is a very helpful person to look at when you're talking about mental health.

As we saw last week, Job reached a point in his life, due to various circumstances, where he writes this song, or this journal entry, and in his journal entry he simply articulates, "I wish I was dead," which shows us something very important. What it showed us last week was there is room in the human experience for godly men and women to struggle deeply with mental health.

If you remember, we looked even at Romans 8, where it indicates that we are groaning with the rest of creation and waiting for the redemption of our bodies, not just from the neck down but the mind as well. We are waiting and longing for the redemption of our bodies. There's room in the human experience for godly men and women to struggle deeply with mental health.

Today, we're going to see something for the people in the room who want to be a help for those who are struggling with mental health. If you're familiar with Job's story, then you know that in Job, chapter 2, three of Job's friends show up. The text is very clear that the reason they show up is for the specific purpose of comforting Job, but these friends begin to open their mouths, and as they seek to comfort Job, it doesn't go very well.

We know it doesn't go well because in Job 16:2, Job draws this conclusion about his friends. Don't miss it. He says, "I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all." He looks at his friends, and he's like, "Guys, I'm just going to call it like I see it. This is not going great. You guys are terrible at this. You are miserable comforters."

His friends show us that there is room in the human experience for followers of Jesus Christ to be more hurtful than helpful, in the name of Jesus, to those who are struggling with mental health. There is a potential for you and me to be miserable comforters. So, the goal today is to help you to be a good comforter.

Now, you need to understand this is not a self-help message. We have to see this message through the lens of the gospel. We have to remember that Christ, through his life, through his death, through his burial, and through his resurrection, has accomplished something so significant that he hasn't just saved us from our sin and its consequences, which is eternal life in hell, but he has actually saved us into a family.

So, when you walked in today, if you know Jesus Christ, you stepped into a family reunion where you actually have brothers and sisters in Christ. Not only that. Jesus Christ has done something that has made it possible that when we put our faith and trust in him, he puts his Spirit inside of us. So, God lives in us and works in us by the power of the Spirit so we can love one another well, sharpen each other, encourage one another, and comfort one another so you can walk in joy and life even in the midst of struggling with mental health.

So, today, as I talk to you about being a good comforter, you have to see it through the lens of "Hey, we're dealing with family here." If we are going to love one another well, we have to rely on the resources that can only come from heaven above, the resources that have been given to us freely that actually are available to us by the Spirit who lives in us.

If there is not a desperate dependence upon the Spirit of God to empower us to live a life that is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and faithfulness toward one another, then we are going to find ourselves in good company with Job's friends as miserable comforters. Everything we say today requires the filling of the Spirit.

So, what does it look like for you and me to be good comforters? The interesting thing is that Job's friends did a few things really well, and we're going to learn from that. Then, in the end, they went terribly wrong, and we're going to learn from that. Look at Job 2:11-13. This is what they got right.

"Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great."

1. Good comforters hear and see when someone is not okay. Did you see how the text, multiple times, talked about Job's friends seeing and hearing? "Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him…" "When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him." "They saw that his suffering was very great."

When we live surrendered to the Spirit of God, then the Spirit of God gives us the capacity to see how God sees. As we live in deep relationship with one another, the Spirit of God can empower us to see where another is hurting. This is going to be really important, because the reality is when someone is struggling with a mental health issue, their tendency is going to be to withdraw and struggle alone.

If someone is sinking in depression, their tendency is going to be to withdraw because they don't want to bring other people down with them. They don't want to be a burden to others. If someone is battling an anxiety disorder, the reason they won't feel comfortable sharing with some people is they will feel very unspiritual, because there are actually commands in the Scripture that tell them to not be anxious about anything. That causes anxiety, so they won't want to share.

If someone is wrestling with OCD or PTSD, their tendency is going to be to believe no one will be able to truly understand or empathize with what they're going through. Then you add on top of that the fact that Christians tend to be less sympathetic around mental health issues than the rest of the world. So, there's a good possibility that people who are struggling with a mental health issue will tend to withdraw and struggle alone. Good comforters are able to hear and see when someone is not okay.

It might be helpful for you to know what to look for. This is just straight from the CDC. Pay attention when someone is feeling sad or anxious often or all the time. I'm not talking about one day. Like, they had a tough meeting at work, and they felt anxious about it or felt down afterward. That's not what I'm talking about. That's life. I'm talking about it's consistent. It lasts for a period of time. Two weeks is a good marker to pay attention to.

Someone feels sad or anxious often or all the time. Someone is not wanting to do activities that used to be fun. Someone feels irritable or easily frustrated or restless. (Some of y'all are nudging your spouse right now. You need to stop that.) If you notice someone having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or they wake up too early or sleep too much or eat more or less than usual or have no appetite.

Pay attention to someone experiencing aches and pains and headaches or stomach problems that don't improve with treatment, or if there's someone having trouble concentrating or remembering details or struggling to make decisions or feeling fatigued even after sleeping well, or if someone has an inability to accomplish daily tasks or perform work responsibilities or feels guilty or worthless or helpless for a consistent period of time or you notice increased negative talk or increased substance use or if they make any hint of mentioning that they have thought about suicide or hurting themselves.

I would encourage the parents in here to pay attention if your kid is obsessing about their salvation or obsessing over unwanted thoughts or they have an unordinary wrestle with uncertainty or a preoccupation with germs or certain routines or they're just struggling in a way that doesn't seem like the norm for them. Let me encourage you. Don't just dismiss that or try to discipline it out of them or shame them out of it. Pay attention to it.

When you meet with your Community Group during the week and y'all share prayer requests with one another, you should clue in to someone who consistently is asking for prayer for something they're worrying about or dealing with anxiety over or if someone mentions, over a period of weeks, that they're feeling down or not feeling themself. Let me encourage you. Don't dismiss that. Don't just move past it.

In those situations, don't assume the best; assume the worst, because God might be giving you sight by the power of his Spirit to see when someone is not okay. There are times when people are not okay, and they don't even realize it themselves. God might want to use you to help them realize they've bought into a lie that "This is just the way life is. Anxiety is like air conditioning. It's always blowing in the background of your life. That's just life for everyone." No, it isn't.

Or if someone consistently feels down, that that's just the way it is. That's where God might want to use you. One of the best ways you can express care for someone is by asking good questions. I'm going to put some questions on the screen. You can take a screenshot of them if you want. This is how you can be a help to someone in your life, whether it's one of your family members or a friend in your Community Group. You can ask them questions like this.

"Hey, I care about you. Here is what I have noticed. Would you be willing to share how you feel like you are doing?" or "Can you identify anything that caused you to start feeling this way?" or "How long have you been feeling this way? Do you have a history of feeling this way? Does anyone else know you've been feeling this way? How do you cope with how you are feeling? Have you had thoughts about ending your life? Do you have a plan to end your life?"

If you're here in the room, and you're one of those people I was speaking to last week…you're not okay right now, whether it's depression, anxiety, or something else…here's what I want to encourage you with: you need and deserve to have people in your life who are willing to ask you questions like this. If there are people in your life who care about you enough to have the courage to ask you questions like this, then they deserve for you to answer them honestly.

If someone is willing to show you that amount of care that they're willing to sit down and say, "Hey, let me just tell you, this is what I'm noticing. I love you enough to not just assume the best or to ignore it; I at least want to ask," then they deserve an honest answer. Don't put a smile on and lie to them. Shoot them straight. God is doing something there. So, the first thing you need to know is good comforters hear and see when someone is not okay.

2. Good comforters prioritize presence. Look back at what verse 13 says. "And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him…" Can you imagine doing that in your Community Group? "Hey, guys, I had an idea. Thank you for coming tonight. First of all, take your shoes off. We're all going to get on the ground, and we're not going to talk for seven days. Sound good? Ready? Go." That's what they do.

"And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great." They were committed to being present with Job. This is something they do really well. When I talk about good comforters prioritizing presence, I am talking about a willingness and a desire, prompted by the Spirit of God, to be with the person struggling.

It's making a commitment to be with them no matter how it's going to impact your schedule. It's going to mean you might have to skip that workout. You might have to cancel that dinner plan with those people. You might have to cut out of work early, because something is going on, and God wants you to step into their life and be physically present with them over an extended period of time. I don't know if you saw it, but when we read verses 11-13, it said these three friends came each from their own place. That means they lived in a different region than Job lived in.

So, these guys are setting out on road trips for the sole purpose of coming to comfort Job. This isn't about shooting off a quick text in the morning and crossing it off your list of things to do. This is like putting your out-of-office reply up. These guys were out of office for who knows how long. I mean, we know they sat silently for seven days, and then they opened their mouths and talked for I don't know how long. There was this commitment to being present with Job.

I was so encouraged. As I was sharing with a friend about what I was talking about, she talked about a time when a friend who lived out of state was struggling. She and another friend got on a plane and went to her for the sole purpose of just being with her. Do you know what that friend said? That friend who was struggling and hurting said, "I will never forget this weekend," because it matters. It matters when you go to the effort to be present with those who are hurting. I think it's amazing that the text says they just sat with him for seven days and seven nights without saying a word.

When I say, "Good comforters prioritize presence," I would imagine some of y'all hear that and are like, "Dude, tell me something that's actually going to move the needle, that's helpful. Like, duh. That makes sense. We need to be there for each other." No. Let's clarify what we're talking about here. This is so countercultural, because we live in a culture that prioritizes efficiency. Time has never been more expensive than it is right now.

The reality is there are a lot of high-capacity people in this church who have made a killing in life because of the gifts they have to identify inefficiencies. You use your strategic mind, and then you activate. You take something that is broken, and you fix it and make it highly successful and profitable in a very small amount of time, and people praise you for it.

That's amazing in the professional world, but when it comes to the relational world, that gifting can actually be a hindrance to you being a good comforter, because when people are struggling with mental health, their struggle, I assure you, will be highly inefficient, and their journey at times will feel more cyclical than linear.

You want it to be linear where you're like, "Okay. You are so blessed that I'm here, because I see that you need fixing. I have a money-back guarantee, 21 days or less. I'm going to have you… I see the process." Then you're going to get into it with them, and you know what? They're going to start doing better, and you're going to be like, "See how good I am." Then they're going to start struggling, and you'll be like, "I don't get it."

Then they're going to start getting better, and you'll be like, "That's what I'm talking about." Then they're going to get worse, and you're going to be like, "I don't understand." It is going to be maddening to you, crazy to you, that you are a fixer in life and you can't fix them. So, you need to know that part of being a good comforter… I'm telling you the best comforters value presence with patience.

I love that they don't just show up and start trying to fix Job. They actually enter into Job's pain. They sit there and mourn with him. They grieve with him for seven days and seven nights without saying a word. That's so good. Here's what you need to understand: God often reveals his presence to hurting people through the presence of his people. God might use you to reveal his presence to those who are struggling just by being with them.

When you're committed to being with someone, without you even opening your mouth, it communicates, "Hey, I love you. I care about you. I see you," and that's going to combat the lies of the Enemy, which say, "No one will understand. No one sees you. No one cares." God will use your presence in their life to communicate to them about his presence in their life.

So, what does this practically look like? Think about it. Last week, if you were here, I encouraged those who are struggling to choose to fight by doing things by the power of the Spirit, to continue to read the Word of God, to pray, to exercise, to regulate their eating, to get good sleep, to journal…all of these sorts of things.

My encouragement to you is if you want to be a good comforter, do those things with the person. Invite them to exercise with you. Start reading the same things in your quiet times, and then share what God is speaking to you. Get on the phone once a day and say a quick prayer with one another. Then my encouragement to you (this is getting really practical) is to always choose direct communication over indirect communication.

Texting is easy, and you should do it, but you have to think about how meaningful it is to someone to feel the physical touch of a hug or to actually hear the tone in someone's voice, the emotion someone feels when they say, "Hey, man. I care about you. I love you. I'm with you. I'm here for you." That ministers to the soul in a way that a toneless, emotionless text can't. So, good comforters prioritize presence.

The interesting thing is if this was all we knew about Job's friends, we would elevate them as great examples of godly and good comforters, but then they had to open their mouths, and we have 28 chapters of them completely blowing it. This is so important. It's when they started talking that they became more hurtful than helpful.

Do you want to see something haunting? I hope you don't miss this. If you're tuned out, this is your invitation back. I really don't want you to miss this. This is haunting. If you go and read what Job's friends say over the next 28 chapters, they are God-fearing men, and they believe that when they speak they are speaking in a way that is honoring to God. That's what they believe.

Then look at what God has to say to them in chapter 42. This is haunting. For God-fearing men who believe they are honoring God when they're talking to Job, here's what God has to say. It says this in verse 7: "After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: 'My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.'"

Do not miss what I'm telling you now. It is very possible for us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to be more hurtful than helpful in the name of Jesus toward those who are struggling with mental health. If you are going to open your mouth, then you must value sensitivity over strategy. You have to. When I talk about valuing sensitivity, I'm talking about having a deep sensitivity to the Spirit of God that is at work in you.

Think about who the Holy Spirit is. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter or the Counselor. That's one of the names for the Holy Spirit. So, before you counsel, you need to make sure you are full of the Counselor, because if you're not full of the Counselor and just jump in and immediately open your mouth and use your strategic thinking of what you think is best for that person instead of pausing and asking the Spirit who lives in you to lead you and guide you as you counsel, there is a good possibility that you'll be more hurtful than helpful.

We desperately need the Spirit, because think about the fruit of the Spirit. When you speak, you want your speech to be marked by the fruit of the Spirit, yet so often, our counsel to one another can lack love, patience, and gentleness toward those who are really hurting. So, you have to be very careful. You must live surrendered to Christ, to his Spirit. You want to be in tune with him and what he wants to say through you.

So, what did Job's friends say? Why did Job come to the conclusion that they were miserable counselors? Well, I'll give you two examples. Let's look at what Eliphaz had to say. Here's what he said in chapter 4: "Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same."

What's his point? "Job, you're the problem. This is your fault. Everything that's happening comes back to you. Just look in the mirror, man. You're the issue." What did Bildad have to say? Job 8: "If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation. And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great."

That sounds good. Right? But what's his message to Job? "Do better. Try harder. Job, you just need to seek God more fervently, because when you truly seek God, then he's going to show up. Then he's going to bless you. But if you want God to bless you, you've got to do better than you're doing. You're going to have to try harder than this."

Do you know what the sad thing is? After thousands of years, Christians haven't moved on from the same counsel. Christians haven't moved on. Nothing has changed. We still try to comfort people with the same counsel. "Hey, man. You're doing it wrong. I think this might be your fault. You're doing something that's kind of jacking up the system. You just need to do better. Try harder. Seek more fervently, and then I know God will bless you."

So, we step into our Community Groups, and someone is sinking in depression. They communicate that they have been feeling down for an extended period of time. They are struggling to function and operate and fulfill their daily tasks. Do you know what we say to them? We say, "Hey, dude. Come on, man. Enough is enough. It's time to get up and get going. I mean, one of the fruit of the Spirit is joy. Are you living in step with the Spirit? The joy of the Lord is supposed to be our strength. Are you leaning into God? Are you trusting in him? Come on, man."

Or someone has an anxiety disorder, and we quote Philippians 4:6-7 to them as if they've never heard it. It's like, "Oh, wait. I've got something for you. Man, just wait." We're flipping to it, and we're like, "Don't miss this. Are you listening? 'Do not be anxious about anything…' Do you hear that? That's a command. 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.' Watch this.

'And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and minds.' What's the problem? Come on, man. Are you taking your requests to the Lord? Are you thanking him? Because if so, when you finally do that, that peace is going to come." Do you know what's amazing? When you respond to their deep anxiety like that, you just amplify their anxiety.

Am I saying you should never read Philippians 4:6-7 to someone struggling with anxiety? Of course not. That's not what I'm saying. Am I saying we should just not say anything? Am I trying to make a case that the only people who should actually say something are mental health professionals? Of course not. But here's what you have to realize. Don't miss this.

3. Good comforters seek to comfort instead of call out with the truth. Now, we have to remember…don't miss what I'm telling you…we're talking about people struggling with mental health. So don't hear me wrong. Part of normal living life in community has a component of looking at people who are persisting in sin or have grown apathetic to their sin, and you should call them out in a way that's chock-full of love.

Proverbs tells us, "The wounds of a friend can be trusted. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." God wants to use us in each other's lives when we are persisting in sin or growing cold in our faith. He wants to use us to jump-start one another. So, there is a place for that admonishment in each other's lives. What we're talking about right now is people who are hurting, who are struggling with a mental health issue.

There is a major difference between seeking to comfort someone with the truth and seeking to call them out with the truth. Instead of calling them out with Philippians 4:6-7, it looks like opening up to Philippians 4:6-7 and saying, "Hey, man. I know you've heard this a hundred times, and I'm not reading this to you to cause you more anxiety.

I'm reading this to you to remind you not to grow weary in doing what God has called you to do, even if you're not seeing the results or the fruit of it yet. Let's do this together. Let's continue to present our requests to God together. Let's discipline ourselves to thank God together, and let's wait and trust that God, in his timing and in his way, however he wants to accomplish it, will move us toward more peace. Let's not despair. Let's keep pressing in."

Or instead of sitting with someone and saying, "Hey, you know Romans 12:2 tells you that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Philippians 4:8 says we should set our minds on what is true. Are you doing that? Are you taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ? Come on, man. You have to win the war in your mind…"

It looks different to say, "Hey, look. Let's work together to identify key truths that are helpful for you to read and meditate on each day, and let's ask the Spirit of God to lead and guide us into all truth so you will believe them, because you have an Enemy who is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy, and he wants to lie to you. So we need the truth to consistently be on drip in our lives to counteract the lies we will have a tendency to believe. Let's do this together."

It's good for us to have the understanding that when someone is struggling with a mental health issue, they most likely already feel like a failure. They already feel spiritually deficient. The last thing they need is you putting an exclamation point on that feeling. One of the best things we can do is consistently remind one another of the gospel. As someone is struggling and hurting, remind them that Christ has suffered as they are suffering, that he is well acquainted with their sadness and their grief, that Jesus Christ was grieved to the point of death.

He can empathize. We have a Savior who empathizes, yet Christ lived perfectly, died sufficiently, and rose victoriously to ensure that a day would come where mental illness would never be an issue again. Until that day, we are God's children, and he loves us and cares about us. He delights in us, and he's working even when we can't see him working. One of the best things we can do is consistently remind one another of the reality, the truth, and the goodness of the gospel.

I shared a little bit of my story last week. I'll share a little bit more right now. Anxiety has been a significant battle for me for a lot of my life. In our early years of marriage, when we were pretty newly married, I was dealing with pretty significant anxiety that was a result of intrusive thoughts and obsessive thinking. I got stuck on really unhealthy or fearful thoughts, and it paralyzed me. It just jammed me up.

When that was happening, I felt like a failure. I felt weak. I was embarrassed by how I was struggling. I felt vulnerable as I shared with Kat. Do you know how Kat responded? She responded without flinching. She listened carefully. She listened patiently. She spoke gently. She comforted me with the truth. She prayed with me. This has been true our entire marriage. God has used her as an agent of his peace in my life.

Every single one of us, when we struggle, need that and deserve that. We have a responsibility to be that for one another. We just have to remember God has unlimited resources, and he can give us what we need to be loving and caring toward one another, yet so many of us… We have the Spirit of God in us. He gives us a whole tool belt of different tools, yet we operate like we only have a jackhammer.

We show up to Community Group, and we just start jackhammering, because we want to disrupt someone's life so we can convict them so they can change. The Spirit of God resources us with the ability to love one another, to speak words that are full of joy, peace, patience, and gentleness toward one another.

Let me encourage you with a few more things that might help you be a good comforter. First, part of being a good comforter is knowing when you are out of your depth. I spoke to this last week, but there are going to be times where someone is struggling so deeply or there's such a complexity to their struggle where it is good and right for you to acknowledge to them, "Hey, I don't have the answer for you."

I am more confident than ever, after years of sitting with people and hearing their struggles and counseling with people, telling people, "I'm not a licensed professional, and this is something I cannot help you well with. I would encourage you to go see someone who is professionally trained to help you navigate these different complexities." It is okay to say to someone, "I don't have any answers, but I love you, I am with you, and I will continue to be with you."

If someone chooses to go see a mental health professional, offer to go with them so you can sit and listen to the counselor, and then you can leave with them and help them apply what they're learning. Then it's so important that you don't assume what God is going to do in someone's life. It can actually be hurtful to someone to say, "I know God is going to heal you, and he's going to do it soon." You don't know that, and it might not be soon.

It actually might be God's will for someone battling mental health to experience the sustaining power and sufficiency of God's grace one day at a time, expressed through the Spirit's power to engage in spiritual disciplines through God's provision of good community and through the common grace of mental health professionals and medication. That might be his will.

The last thing I'll tell you is this. There are going to be times where you do everything you know to do to be a good comforter, and it still won't be enough, and that's not on you. There might be someone you seek to comfort, yet they still take their life. That isn't your fault. I remember sitting with a group of girls in College Station who were dealing with a girl who was suicidal, and what I had to tell them… I wanted them to know they should do everything they could to comfort this girl, but their responsibility was not to keep her alive. That was out of their control.

So, you do what God calls you to do, but ultimately, you have to remember that only God is God and only God is sovereign over their lives. Job's friends were miserable comforters. May the same not be true of us. May we be good comforters because we hear and see when someone is not okay, because we prioritize presence, and because we are willing to comfort instead of call out with the truth.

When the storms of mental health are raging in people's lives, may we be those people who are waving others in, calling them to come and take shelter in Christ who is our very present help in times of trouble. If this morning you're realizing there is someone you have been a miserable comforter to, I would encourage you to go seek their forgiveness, to just go acknowledge that and ask for their forgiveness.

Then I'll close by encouraging every person here to look to Jesus. If you're struggling with mental health, remember that you have a Savior who can empathize. Jesus Christ, on the night he was arrested, was grieved to the point of death, yet he faithfully endured the cross and rose from the dead, conquering Satan, sin, and death, ensuring a day would come when mental health issues would be no more. In the meantime, he is a comforter, and he is near, and he is seeking to bring hope and peace in the places of your life where you feel hopeless and helpless.

If you're here today, and you're not struggling with mental health, then may you beg Christ to give you his selflessness, that as Philippians 2 says, you would be able to look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Christ was willing to put on flesh and become obedient to death, even death on a cross, for the sake of comforting those who were hopeless and helpless. May we do the same.

May he resource us through his Spirit to be able to bring comfort to those who are hurting all because he's with us, in us, and moving through us for the good of his people. My hope and prayer is this week the people, the family, at Watermark Community Church would be a healthy family. Let's pray together.

I just want to ask you to listen to my words right now. It's interesting. Last week, we shared an email address, and we said, "Hey, if you're struggling, you can reach out." About 60 percent of the people who reached out are not members at Watermark Community Church. I'm so glad you felt comfortable reaching out. Maybe your first step is to go through membership here. Our next membership class is on June 13. That might be a good step toward being more connected with people who can come around you and care for you.

Then, so many of the members who reached out are not currently in Community Groups. Community Groups aren't the answer for everything, but they are part of the solution to being known and loved and cared for. The next Community Group formation is next Sunday. I would encourage you to make it a priority to pursue community. And if you don't know Jesus, maybe the reason God brought you here today is so you could know there is only truly hope and help in the person of Jesus Christ. Would you put your trust in him today? Would you turn to him and receive him as your Savior?

Lord Jesus, we need you. God, keep us from being miserable comforters to one another. Would you help us this week? Would you fill us full of your Spirit that our lives would be marked by your love, your peace, your patience, and your gentleness toward one another? Give us eyes to see those in our lives who are not okay. Give us an urgency to prioritize being present with others, and, Lord, help us to comfort instead of convict or call people out with your truth. We need you. We love you. Help us to be a healthy people. In Jesus' name, amen.