Tonight I would like to talk about something that I think may bring confusion to many, and that few have a willingness to talk about. I would like to talk to you about mental illness is the life of a child of God. There seems to be a popular belief throughout the Christian community that mental illness cannot and should not be present in the life of a child of God; I think this is largely because of the association of mental illness with demonic possession or at least attack. In short, I do indeed believe that some mental illness is the result of demonic possession, but it is not always the case, especially among some of the more common illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Mental illness is no joke. It is not imaginary, it is not simple, it is not easily fixed. You do not just “get over it”. Right here and now, before I go any further, I VALIDATE mental illness. Why? Because denying the seriousness of mental illness, or the horror of those suffering DOESN’T GET US ANYWHERE. Overcoming something starts with accepting and admitting that the problem is real. But there are also a lot of lies associated with mental illness. I will point some of them out to you: the idea that you are a victim to your mental illness and forever bound to it is a lie. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE BOUND. YOU WERE NOT MADE TO LIVE BOUND. Another lie is that because we are predisposed to a mental illness because of a parental/genetic factor, we too will have that mental illness. Predisposition does not mean predestination to mental illness, or any other problem that humanity is could ever have. Furthermore, having a problem, or a tendency to a problem, does not negate your responsibility in warring against that. Can mental illness overcome you? Yes. Can it control your life? Yes. But it doesn’t have to. We were made to live in victory, over mental illness, and everything else that troubles us as children of God. You have a responsibility, especially as a Christian, to war against that which threatens to overtake you.
Here is another lie: God can’t use you, because you are suffering with a mental illness. There are plenty of Christians that have suffered from mental illness…in fact, there are probably a lot more than you could imagine. So it has been throughout history. Some of the greatest world changers in Christian history have suffered from gut-wrenching, agonizing degrees of mental illness. There was one preacher, an evangelist, a great man of God, who suffered from anxiety. When I say anxiety, those who deal with it know what I am talking about. The anxiety that he suffered was so bad that it constrained him to his bed unable to get up, for days. Gloriously, on the tail of every bout of anxiety that literally crippled him, God did something absolutely incredible and hundreds and thousands of lives were changed by the teaching of this man. (I can’t remember his name I’m sorry). Charles Spurgeon, considered by many to be the greatest preacher of all time, suffered from depression, severe depression, for many years. If you are a Christian and suffering mental illness you are far from alone. The Apostle Paul said that at one point that he even despaired of life, as he sunk into the depths of despair and grief. You are not alone, and you are not any less capable of serving the kingdom and doing great things if you suffer from mental illness. The word of God promises us that “no temptation has befallen us such as is not common to man”. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Even in your suffering, in your affliction, you can experience the peace of God, and you can live in victory in the middle of that affliction. It’s acceptable to reach out for help in doing this. I don’t know what your story is, but I know that God can use you. I don’t know what wounds you have, but I know that they are not too much for the Healer’s hands to bind up and heal. (I would know). I can’t see the ugliness or that lingers inside of you, but I know that Jesus delights in making beautiful things out of ashen brokenness. I can also tell you that your suffering can be used as a special weapon in your arsenal when it comes to serving the kingdom, and even just simply knowing God. Even if you don’t have a “mental disorder” (a term people need to get away from anyway…), if you are brokenhearted, or suffering, or have a burden that just never really seems to go away, causing you to keep struggling, the Father can use you all the more. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”. (Psalm 34:18). His power can and will be made perfect in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9). Part of living victoriously even if you are suffering, I’ve learned, involves us stopping the begging to be freed from our affliction. Believe me, I know what it is like to plead with tears in your eyes and your knees on the floor that the Savior would take away your suffering. But He always has a purpose in the suffering, the burden, the affliction…no matter what it is, even if it lasts your whole life. He desires that you come to a place of trust in Him. We must bear our burdens with diligence and patience, believing Him when He says that He loves us and will help us. Victory does not require the absence of an enemy my darling, and we must learn this before victory can become ours.
Jesus did not make the human mind with the potential for any problem, or pain, or struggle, or disorder that He could not overcome. He is much more powerful than that. I have seen the peace of God overcome the plight of those bound up in mental illness, even if only for a moment, when a prayer is said, the name above every name spoken. His name brings peace, and life, and freedom.
And now finally, this beautiful verse of song, found written in the walls of an insane asylum, just to prove to you what Jesus can do, even with mental illness:
“Could we with ink the oceans fill, and were the skies of parchment made…were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade. To write the love of God above would drain the oceans dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole…though stretched from sky to sky.”
Oh Heavenly Father, I trust you now to do that which you have willed with the words that you have given me. You will fulfill all of your purposes. Reach around the world now and touch the broken. Abolish lies and place the truth in the minds and hearts of all those who need this. You have ordained all things in your holy and perfect will, and you will be faithful to honor your promise; your word will not return to you void. In Jesus name, that precious name that is above all others. That name that has the power to overcome every affliction and break every chain, I ask these things. Amen.
Until next time,