May 4-10, 2015 is Mental Health Week here in Canada. Just as almost everyone can name someone in their family who has been affected by cancer, so, I think, can we say the same thing about mental illness. I have a relatively small family, but I know of a number of my relatives who either battled mental illness in the past or who continue to live with various aspects of mental illness.
I myself battle Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks, and occasional bouts of depression. And I am a Christian.
I added the latter statement because oftentimes the pressures of being a Christian made it even more difficult to come to terms with and accept the fact that I have mental health issues. Sometimes the pressures came from within myself from misunderstanding God’s love for me and His will for my life. At other times, the pressures came from other Christians who ‘offered’ ‘helpful spiritual advice’. (I say this with sarcasm) My Mom calls those types of Christians “Job’s miserable comforters”.
Let’s face it – mental illness still carries a stigma, both outside and inside the church.
I have suffered panic attacks since I was very young; and I have already mentioned that there is a family history of mental illness. But, I have believed in Jesus since I was a girl. Therefore, it can not be the simple fact that I suffer because I am an unsaved sinner. Every single human ever born since Adam and Eve’s children, (with the exception of Jesus) have been born in sin. Therefore if being a sinner is the reason for all mental illness, then every human who ever lived has been mentally ill. (I sometimes think that this is true when I look at the state of the world!)
Well then, since I am saved, then perhaps my mental illness is due to some sin that I have not dealt with?? When I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, He washed away all my sins. Not only that, by accepting Jesus, I have ‘put on’ the life of Christ. I have God, in Christ, in me! So, while I still make mistakes in my life, sin can no longer live in me because of what Christ did. Again, if unresolved sin is the cause of mental illness, everyone would be mentally ill because “all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God”.
As much as I have hated suffering chronic pain and fatigue and being diagnosed with cancer, I have hated suffering mental illness. And just as I have fought my other health issues with everything that I could, I have fought against mental illness. I have prayed – intensely – for healing and deliverance. I have claimed scriptures. I have rebuked the enemy. I have spent hours and hours studying the subject of divine healing. I was led to believe that taking medication meant that I was doubting my healing, so I stopped taking my medication, which led to unpleasant repercussions.
I finally came to the conclusion that God is concerned about my quality of life. He gave mankind knowledge to develop medications and treatments to help us when we are sick. God knows that I don’t want to be ill. He knows the road of faith that I have walked in an effort to manifest my healing. God wants me as happy and healthy as I can be and if that means that I must take medication, then He sees with mercy and grace. God would rather have me alive and functioning as an active member of the body of Christ, rather than sick, in an institution, or dead.
I urge you, if you think or know, that you or a loved one has mental health issues, please seek proper medical help. And as you receive that medical help, thank God as you continue to seek His will and His wisdom. Continue to walk in faith, in hope believing for your deliverance. God loves you!
And if you are a Christian who knows another Christian who may be battling mental health issues, please, please do not be numbered among Job’s miserable comforters. Do not judge, criticize or condemn. Be loving. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be understanding. Be supportive. Be forgiving. Seek Godly knowledge, wisdom, counsel and understanding. And pray.
Rom 15:13 And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am including a link to Canadian Mental Health Association.