Mental Health

God is Our Greatest Encourager

God is Our Greatest Encourager | Libero Magazine 2
God meets us at the end of our small victories. He celebrates our small victories--with us and for us--as we are transformed in recovery.

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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is important to many. Our Faith column is a place to discuss how faith (of any kind) positively affects mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.

In recovery, we move forward by taking small steps and winning tiny battles (though they don’t seem tiny at the time). These battles are exhausting but God is, through the heartache and the successes, our greatest encourager.

He is the first to celebrate over us and with us. Zephaniah 3:17 describes Him singing joyful songs over us, delighting in who we are. He is so proud of us, even in our clumsy, stumbling movements. He cares about every detail of our lives.

Before we go into the details of how He celebrates our tiny steps, I want to remind all of us nothing we ever do can make God love us any more or any less.

His love for you is never based on your performance. Whatever happens, He is invested in you. He chose you to be His child and at no point has He regretted this decision.

Yet, we were created with an incredible level of potential He longs for us to reach. Our growth and our joy bring Him joy and He is not apart from this process: “…the spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26, NIV) The Spirit is constantly praying for us, coming alongside us in our journey towards healing.

We are conditioned by the world around us to believe the outward motion is the important bit, but heaven’s perspective is so different to this. In God’s kingdom, the focus is always on the internal over the external.

It is not the seeming insignificance of our small victories God looks at, but the underlying heart battles we are overcoming.

To God, the challenging meal we’re eating is almost superfluous: He looks through to see our fear, our determination, and our faithfulness. He sees us engaging, in the tiny ways we are capable of, in the process that will ultimately save our lives.

The power of the process is hugely important in the Bible, modelled in the story of creation with six distinct days of productivity (Genesis 1 and 2). God is more than capable of forming every aspect of the earth in a split-second and the way He builds up the layers of His masterpiece is no mistake.

This passage also emphasises God’s focus on the smallest of details – He painstakingly forms the complex quirks of the human character and the minutiae of nature. Nothing is overlooked–nothing is too little to merit His attention. Speed is not the intention, and this is also true of recovery.

None of us developed our mental illnesses overnight so, equally, we cannot expect to recover all at once.

Slower steps can create more permanent changes.

Maybe recovering in one big jump is quicker, but you learn far more about God and about yourself doing it in a gradual way. If I had been instantly healed in the way I cried out for in the depths of anorexia, so much of who I am today would be missing as a result.

Furthermore, recovering in a gradual, daily step type of way means we actually learn how to recover. The fear of backsliding loses its power when we know the tools and characteristics we need have already been developed in us to allow us to climb out of the pit.

A gentle plod also means we have the privilege of drawing continuously on God’s grace.

The way we are utterly dependent on grace in getting through reminds me of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. The people were escaping from slavery, moving through the expansive wilderness to the Promised Land. This wilderness feels a lot like the middle ground of recovery.

The people of Israel received manna, a heavenly food, to sustain them during this time. Manna was sent for that day alone – any stored up by the Israelites was spoiled and not fit to be eaten by the following day. The only exception to this was the Sabbath when manna collected the day before would still be good.

There was no great harvest or huge step away from starvation. There were instead small, daily victories, enabled by God’s grace in providing and celebrated by Him.

We are given all we need for today. Just for this moment. Of course, a huge step feels overwhelming because it is. We were never designed to be able to do things instantly and alone.

God meets us at the end of our small victories.

In the famous biblical story of the prodigal son, the father sees his son coming “while he was still a long way off” and “filled with love and compassion, [runs] to him.” (Luke 15:20)

Coming home after all the son had done must have felt like an overwhelming task, but he just needed to take a single step onto his father’s property. In that moment, his father ran to meet him in his small victory.

This parental, forgiving love is often summed up by the fact God loves us enough to meet us where we are and too much to leave us as we are. The only way these two aspects can be reconciled is with small steps.

He comes to us in our mess and continues to gently lead us forward. He celebrates our small victories–with us and for us–as we are transformed in recovery.

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Anna is a UK-based medical student who loves Jesus, strong tea, clear cold sunny weather, tiny humans (especially under 5s), football and singing harmonies at every opportunity. She has been recovering from anorexia, depression, anxiety and self-injury since 2011 and is passionate about the freedom that recovery can bring.


SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.