Again I ask: How can Australian’s ‘go well beyond blue?’ In other words, how can we decisively win the battlefield of our minds daily and even see unprecedented break throughs in areas of mental health?
Where are we at as a nation and what is the trend to bend?
The national ABS survey on mental health reveals a whole host of confronting statistics: “Of the 16 million Australians aged 16-85 years, almost half (45% or 7.3 million) had a mental disorder at some point in their lifetime.” These include things like depression, trauma, anxiety, panic attacks, social phobia, to name but a few conditions, and these are often linked to substance and drug abuse. But, aren’t we the ‘lucky country? We have medicare and good health care by world standards and yet statistics show mental health problems are growing at a seemingly exponential pace; speak to people in the industry! Why?
Of course, we all feel down at times and worry, but what is the reason for such an exacerbated condition? There could be countless reasons, but what is the root issue? Is it because people generally struggle to be self-determined and resilient? Or could the mother of all causes be, that leads down the path of depression, are we anchored in a robust HOPE, and remaining HOPE-filled, buffered in the time of life’s storms? How can we do that; are there precedents?
Imagine the force of God’s HOPE being released afresh in our times.
Interestingly, the apostle Paul faced the brutal Roman regime in his day and he wrote of many severe obstacles he faced, but taught Roman believers to “Be joyful in HOPE...” And later in same letter wrote: “May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Friends, consider all the might and force of Romans armies, and then the force of Paul’s HOPE in Christ. After years of persecution, in 313AD Constantine became the first Christian Emperor and proclaimed religious tolerance for Christians throughout the empire! Why? Paul great HOPE he spoke of to the Roman church proved true: “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for all who believe….” Ultimately, the empire could not resist the sustained and massive ground swell of healing and restoration took place in countless lives. And this river still flows today too!
God’s HOPE can transform our lives
Are you curious like me, what was the essence of New Testament teaching, that reveals this HOPE and associated grand social transformation at the grass roots? For example, in the book of Titus the living HOPE in Jesus transformed the ‘Cretans,’ who were known for being “always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” by their own people. They were able to go well beyond the blues when set free in Jesus from their old destructive and repetitive life patterns, to prosper; here’s what Paul instructed and people practiced: “You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” Surely, this is fertiliser for the family unit!
What is your struggle to remain in HOPE today?
Are you despised for doing right? Feeling dazed? Demoted to slave like status at work? Forcefully displaced? Hurt, feel rejected by close family? You’re in a pit with no way out; self-pity abounds, feel the victim? No idea of any prospects?
Joseph, in Genesis chapter’s 37 and 39, experienced all these things and more, but maintained his faith and HOPE in God, worked hard, adapted and walked with God. God’s presence buffered him from depression and enabled him to bounce back. Against all odds, his HOPE in God’s goodness proved true and just like Paul became a powerful channel of good to the world power of his day, Egypt.
He observed God’s sovereignty and provision over the years and prospered. It influenced the naming of his kids: Ephraim, meaning “God has helped me forget all my troubles and all my father’s household,” and the Manasseh meaning “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” He knew God worked all for good; these names also reflect a deep emotional healing. The sting of the trauma, the shame and suffering were over.
Be encouraged, what a great HOPE these words are for us all today also. Like a Joseph your pain can be forgotten and you can prosper, so you go well beyond the blues. God uses our afflictions to prepare us for the prospering; we forget the bad stuff and not God, so we stand on a rock instead of sand in the storm. The force of HOPE is waiting to flow through our lives; will we get back to the basics of our relationship with God?
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor in Mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, for about 4 years in the early 1990’s. He has worked as a pastor-life coach over the past 17 years. Mark is also an artist and author and has also written two books which are a collection of his own paintings, photography and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia with a voice to release your giant potential within.’ He has been counted among some of Australia’s best-selling authors since 2014 and is a frequent public speaker in various community groups and churches, with a special grace for discipleship and to help people find and release what they are born for. If this article encouraged you do email Mark with your comments on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many, suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, in 1990 for about four years. He worked as a pastor-life coach with Hope International Ministries from 2002 to May 2023, playing a key role in raising up leaders and elders for the local Melbourne Hope church, which lead today. Mark has also been active in conducting yearly trips to remote Indigenous communities, bringing teams for training and outreach, which he initiated from 2015. He also established a salt and light ministry to empower saints of influence in the marketplace from 2017.
Mark is also an artist and an author and has written two books which are both a collection of his own paintings, photography, and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia- With a voice to release your giant potential within,’ which are available now on booktopia.com.au and at leading book retailers. He has been counted among some of Australia’s best authors on several occasions through Dymocks since 2014 and continues to be a motivational speaker in various community groups, organisations, and churches.
He is currently pioneering his itinerant ministry to bless Indigenous people and empower the body of Christ, while working as an artist, author and speaker.