Mental Health

Pursuing God

God is Our Greatest Encourager | Libero Magazine 2
In our darkest, most painful, most sinful moment, He is there. Our brokenness is never too much for this father who will not turn away.

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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.

While in recovery, I’ve experienced many aspects of God’s character in stronger ways than ever before.  Protector, deliverer, healer, comforter, defender, and arguably most of all — pursuer.

But what does it mean to be pursued?

God’s pursuit is active and deliberate, not an afterthought or coincidence. It means He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). In our darkest, most painful, most sinful moment, He is there.

Our brokenness is never too much for this father who will not turn away.

He doesn’t chase us. The word ‘chase’ can seem to have a recklessness and an element of threat about it. There is nothing aggressive or haphazard about the way in which God follows our broken selves. He is perfectly, patiently, walking beside and behind us through the mess, ready for us to turn to Him and admit our need.

I know there are many times when I have run to anorexia or self-harm instead of running to God, in fear or hopelessness.  I do not believe we choose to become unwell. However, every day we make decisions which move us in particular directions — we have the power to choose to move towards recovery, as small as each step can sometimes be.

It isn’t simple. I remember once sitting on the kitchen floor with the fridge flung open, praying through sobs God would take the torment away so I could just eat a meal which would allow me to function properly. It didn’t happen that night, or for many months afterwards, but in that moment I looked to Him and acknowledged I had not been abandoned to this.

The free will, given in love, we have means God will not force us. He is utterly available and ever close, but the responsibility to make the decision to let Him in our own hearts is ours. Our gentle God simply continues to go with us as we fumble, watching with righteous anger and tender grief, and waiting for us to come to Him.

We don’t have to do any of this in our own strength.

It has to be our decision — our invitation for God to step in, but we will not be left alone in the process of coming back to Him.

The moment we seek, we find He is already pouring blessings into our lives:

“By the help of your God, return…” (Hosea 12:6 (NLT))  “It is time to seek the Lord, that He may come and rain righteousness among you.” (Hosea 10:12 (NLT))

The book of Hosea is the story of a man who marries an unfaithful woman, and the journey of God leading him to continue to love and rescue her in a painful, active way, as she abandons him and their children. He follows her to the darkest of places to win her back, refusing to give up on her. This is a picture of God and humanity.

Like Hosea bought his wife back, so God has bought us back.

Through the death of Jesus, God paid for our return from our illnesses and our brokenness.

Lean into His grace. It will look different depending on the season and the situation. Sometimes turning to Him and accepting His pursuit will simply mean trusting recovery is right, even when it feels wrong.  Choosing in faith to follow a meal plan, engage with counselling, be honest with a friend.

We have been won by One who will not give up on us, so we need to live in the truth of it.

Our pursuing God is also displayed at the end of Psalm 23: “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life.” This does not mean hard things don’t happen — we all know that they do. For those of us who have tangled up in damaging behaviours and painful thought patterns, it can feel like we are attached to quite the opposite of those attributes.

However, the reality of who God is means the One who epitomizes goodness and mercy truly does go behind us.

He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

Hosea 2:14-15a (NLT): “but then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the valley of trouble into a gateway of hope…”

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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.

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