Christian, Mental Health Matters - Part 3 “No Respecter of Persons”
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” Acts 10:34.
I’m thankful that God doesn’t show favouritism when dealing with people. The gospel of grace is open to all who would come to Him in repentance and faith. In essence, the gospel and its saving grace has the potential to touch all, and that can only be good news! On the flip side, sin has marred us all and there is no escaping that sombre reality. Remember, we are fallen people in a fallen world.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” Romans 5:12
The ugly that rides on the back of the premise that we are fallen people, is that when it comes to mental health issues we find that they also are “no respecter of persons”. Meaning, we are all susceptible to facing mental health issues. Not primarily because of our actions, although we must not downplay our poor choices in life and the consequences that come, but simply because we are indeed all broken people in a broken world. Yes, the believer has been restored, but we are not yet what we will be and sin still lies within, more than willing to go to work at any time (Rom 7:18) to afflict us body, soul and sprit. I say all this not from a distance, but from first-hand experience of dealing with mental health issues in my own life. Let me share some of my own story and experiences with you.
My Past Life Outside of Christ
I grew up in a home were my mother attended Church sporadically, but my father had no notion for the things of God. I can remember attending Sunday school when I was younger but as I got older, I resisted more and more my mother’s wishes for me go to Church. Choosing instead to follow my father’s example, I stayed at home avoiding Church altogether. Life progressed and as I grew older I gradually became more and more entangled with the things of the world, drink and drugs being at the forefront of everything I did. Things took a turn for the worst when my mother was suddenly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and within in three months of diagnosis she was gone.
The loss of my mother at the age of seventeen put me on a path of destruction that led me into the arms of the loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. The lifestyle I had become caught up in was fuelling my destructive tendencies. I was living a life for myself with not a care in the world for how I treated people. I lived for my own pleasure, caught up in my own agony, rage and grief. I was trying to fill a void with what the world had to offer, trying suppress how I really felt with the temporary reprieve that drugs and the drink brought. What I thought of as enjoyment and a means of escaping reality at the time, I now see as sin and sin always has its consequences; although not always immediate “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7).
Thankfully the grace of God was open to me, and as I was challenged, by my now wife, to look to the word of God. I accepted the challenge and began to look at the Bible. The more I looked at the word of God the more I came under conviction of my sin. The more I read, the greater the conviction! I knew that I was in terrible trouble with a holy and righteous God and that I needed to be saved. Then one night in February 2007, I remember being on the phone to my friend who had just lost his girlfriend and job due to his drink problem. I began to witness to him, and shared with him that he needed Jesus to save him. It was at this point when I suddenly realised that I needed Jesus myself. I was telling my friend to give his life to Jesus, when I hadn't even given my own life to the Lord. So as soon as the call ended, I asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins and save me. The decision I made that day began the transformation of my life, and without doubt is the greatest decision I ever made.
My Present Life With Christ
“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.” Galatians 5:17
Fast forward 13 years, and I am now in my fourth year of Pastoral ministry. I am drink and drug free and my walk with the Lord has never been better. I am serving Him sacrificially, which is the least I can do to show my love for Him (Rom 12:11). I have a beautiful wife who supports, defends and cares for me like nobody else, she truly is my best friend. We have two wonderful children together who are the light of our lives. We have a roof over our heads, food on our table and Christ in our home.
What more could a man want? Surely, I should be all smiles all the time? Surely, I should as a Pastor know what the word of God shares on joy, and therefore I should be full of the joy of the Lord? Well, I completely agree that in a perfect world I would be that guy, but I don’t live in a perfect world and I’m not a perfect person. The old nature that lies within me gets the better of me at times, and that gets me down. The old lifestyle that I led still takes its payment for the sin I committed, for the damage I did to my body as I abused it through the drink and the drugs. Yes, I am redeemed, I am saved, I am now a child of God, I know all this, and I believe it with all my heart, but that doesn’t stop me having periods where I feel down, dismayed and distracted.
I battle. I battle with world, the flesh and the devil and the fight is fierce at times. In my case, my mental health battles are a result of the sin of my past, and that’s on me, my decisions, I made them, and I have to own them. My present life with Christ, has been the best time of my life period. I love my Saviour and I know that He loves me and His grace sustains me each and every day, but I am not yet what I will be.
My Promised Life In Christ
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2
As I walk between the now and what will be, what gets me through are the promises I have in Christ my Saviour (2 Cor 4:17). The truth that I am not what I will be, that one day I will be free of the burdens of Sin. One day I will be free from the battles, the bruises and the base nature that lies within my heart. In the dark days I cling to the promises of God, in the bright days I cling to the promises of God. I cling to God with all my might and even though my hands might slip on occasion, I rest in the eternal love and redeeming grace of the One who will not let me go! I remind myself that God doesn’t see me as a sinner any longer but as a son. I remind myself that I stand before God not clothed in my own stained sins or my own self-righteousness but in the righteousness of Christ who loved me and gave himself for me (Rom 5:8). I remind myself that I am protected, preserved and provided for in Him, and that even on my darkest day the promises from His word remain true.
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18
I know there is a brighter day coming, but before that great and glorious day there may well be a few more dark days ahead for me. When those dark days come in my present life with Christ, I remember my past life outside of Christ which points me to my promised life in Christ. The grace, mercy and promises of God towards me are where I rest my weary soul. I place my trust in Him and that is what gets me through my own mental health issues.
Christian, mental health matters. I’m a christian and it matters to me, because it has affected me. I wonder has it affected you? If so, please know you are not alone, and there is a way through the darkness to the light. Don’t let the enemy tell you its hopeless, because it’s not and never will be when you have Christ in your life. In Him the promises shine brighter than any dark doubts and stand taller than any despairing depths you may face in this life.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised” Hebrews 10:23
I shared my story in the hope that others will be willing to open up and share theirs. Christian, Mental Health Matters and it is “No Respecter of Persons”.
Click here for Part 1.
Click here for Part 2.
Kevin Cowdrey is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church Spalding. Kevin grew up in Northern Ireland, where as a young man he was caught up with loyalist paramilitaries. The turning point in Kevin’s life came when he met Jesus and was saved in 2007. He went on to study at the Theological College of North Staffordshire. Kevin was ordained in 2016 and the same year took up the Pastorate of Calvary Baptist Church. Kevin’s passion is expounding the word of God clearly and carefully, to reach all ages. Kevin is married to Clare and they have two young children together.