The God of Comfort is all about the Father Heart of God.
A father’s heart longs to impart unconditional love to his children. Some of us received this unconditional love from our earthly father and some did not. Because of God’s inherent nature, He has a father’s heart toward His children.
My earthly father had my best interest in mind, although at times I questioned it. I came to understand that more deeply after graduation from high school. My parents divorced when I was around five years old. I did have contact and visits during my elementary, junior high and high school years. During my college years, I was able to spend more time with my father. Our relationship deepened and he was one of my biggest cheerleaders! “I’m proud of you kiddo!” was a frequent love-filled phrase I heard often.
One particular area of my life that I received support from my father was during multiple episodes of major depressive disorder in my adult life. This mental health monster had also been an unwelcome visitor in the lives of several on both sides of my family. My father’s love was expressed in visits to the psychiatric hospitals, in taking me for ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) treatments and many other expressions of love and concern.
“The father heart of God and His grace flowed like a river into my hopeless, dark heart. ‘This is not your fault, Bonnie.’ … Little did I understand that mental illness was just as much a medical problem as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Their words of grace actually felt as if tons of weight and guilt were lifted off my shoulders.”
Another major expression of the father heart of God came through the Grace Alliance. I was in the midst of the most severe episode of major depressive disorder I had ever experienced in 2010 into 2011. Suicidal thoughts and plans thankfully never happened. The first time I met with the Grace Alliance co-founders, Dr. Matthew Stanford and Joe Padilla, I cried during most of our visit at Panera Bread (before they had an office). The father heart of God and His grace flowed like a river into my hopeless, dark heart. “This is not your fault, Bonnie.”
“What did you just say???” I asked. These words went against my rock-solid belief that this depression was my fault. If I could just get over the trauma of my childhood and get my act together, this wouldn’t have happened. Little did I understand that mental illness was just as much a medical problem as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
Their words of grace actually felt as if tons of weight and guilt were lifted off my shoulders. My journey out of darkness was not over, but with continued medical treatment, wholistic living and grace filled support, I was not alone. I attended the Living Grace Group weekly. I cannot say enough about how God used the support and love from the group to further my recovery.
A major personal breakthrough occurred during a visit with Joe Padilla (at their new office). Joe helped me explore some questions about what God’s father heart would be speaking to me during these challenges. The following words are what I personally felt God would express to my heart.
Jesus to Bonnie:
“I want to hold you and hug you. I love you, I love you, I love you. I am with you. We’re in this together. You’re not alone. We are going to get through this day together. I am love, compassion, comfort, peace, unconditional acceptance, unconditional love, hope and joy.”
I encourage you to lean into Jesus and rest in His grace. Find your rest in Him, not in the hustle and bustle of endless activity and unrealistic expectations. You may still be hurting deeply in your mental health recovery journey, but as Joe Padilla shared with me on a difficult, dark day:
“Bonnie, take some time to rest, listen to peaceful music and be honest with the Lord. Tell Him you’re feeling depressed and ask Him for comfort.”
What about you? How do you find God’s comfort during the difficult days?