Ignoring a Mentally Ill Believer

mental-illness

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”

Matthew 25:45, NLT

The truth of the matter is that the Church can be the wrong place to have a mental illness. This is a generalization, I know. But many times it is true. We have a strong tendency to offer only token acknowledgement of “the least among us.” We will smile and nod, and, oh so quickly move away; we feel we’ve performed our ‘duty’ as a Christian. We are somewhat relieved to ‘get away’ and dodge the problem person.

Stereotypes abound for the mentally ill. Afterall, they can be demanding, unpredictable, and dangerous. The worst are those who are dirty, unkempt. They say things that are odd and out-of-place. Have weird delusions and paranoia. They move to the margins, and usually sit in the back. But as a general rule, the mentally ill get ignored.

“People with mental illness sometimes behave in ways other people don’t understand and can’t make sense of. People with severe depression sometimes stay in bed all day, unable to manage the most basic motivation to move. People with anxiety disorders can be gripped by irrational or even unidentifiable fears that don’t incapacitate other people. Those affected by psychotic disorders may see things that aren’t real, hear voices that don’t exist, and sometimes lose the ability to discern reality at all.”

Amy Wilson, Christianity Today, 4/10/13

Often, a believer must find valuable help outside ‘the four walls’ of the Church. Some resources are often found with wise psychiatrists and caring therapists in clinical care. Medications (which are a godsend) give the afflicted much relief. The local Church just don’t always have the resources but that is o.k. It isn’t their role exactly.

However, the Church of Jesus has the only ‘real corner’ of the spiritual side of things. The body of believers encourages, teaches and guides. Without it, the mentally ill Christian would be severely effected. The local church feeds us spiritually. It can’t be replaced. It has ‘the goods’ for discipleship. It has the Word of God and motivating worship. It has elders and other leaders who shepherd each believer, into a holy life. It provides fellowship which the believer with a mental illness must have.

It’s also a place of ministry: each one using his/her gift in the corporate body of the saints. This is vital. The broken believer has an opportunity to serve, which is such a factor in the walk of the disciple. We need them in our fellowships, and they need to be there too. God blesses those who will serve Him in this. Fellowship is critical for disabled believers.

As Jesus’ representatives in this present moment, we need to extend our hands. We may not fully understand the afflicted, but we can reach through the issues (ours and theirs) and administer the love of Jesus. We might pray that this scourge of mental illness be lifted out of our society.

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What Do I Really Need?

“The depressed don’t simply need to feel better. They need a Redeemer who says, “Take heart, my son, my daughter; what you really need has been supplied. Life no longer need be about your goodness, success, righteousness, or failure. I’ve given you something infinitely more valuable than good feelings: your sins are forgiven.” 

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

 “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

It really does come down to “needs” after all.  I don’t need to feel better, and I don’t need a to take another Zoloft.  Do I believe in psych drugs? Yes, most definitely.  I do need to control my moods. But when we talk about need (its really an emphatic word, it needs to be drawn out) I have discovered I really have very few needs.

I’ll tell you what I need.  I need to follow Jesus with my cross.  I need to pray and worship in His presence.  I need to love my wife and children.  I need to love my neighbor.  I need the Word, both ‘rhema’ and ‘logos.’  I need a good pastor, and I need to fellowship with other believers more than I do.

Its good to go through this sifting process.  I do not need to feel happy, healthy, wealthy, content, strong, moral or helpful.  I do need God however. Yes, I am “mentally” ill.  I do take meds to keep me from burning down our house and shooting our dog.  I’ve been listening to music in my head that others can’t hear.  I see things, astonishing things.  I sometimes have to deal with paranoid feelings that would curl your hair.

But what do I really need?  I desperately need God.

I need his love.  I need to know all my sins are forgiven.  I need to know that I will be with him forever and ever.  I guess the challenge is now yours, sort out these issues.  It doesn’t matter what flavor of mental illness you have.  You need Him.  Everything else is mostly froth and scum.

“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!”

Isaiah 65:24

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Those Joyful Christians

Joyful

You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.”

Psalm 63:5, (NLT)

To be truly happy– a man must have sources of gladness which are not dependent on anything in this world.”

J.C. Ryle

The defining hallmark of vital Christianity has to be joy. It is truly what describes believers in every culture, from a ‘rice paddy’ in Vietnam to a business woman in a NYC skyscraper. Joy is seen in their hearts and faces. Its source– the indwelling Holy Spirit; He makes them ‘bubble’ in a ‘carbonated’ kind of holiness. He sets them apart for Himself. They are His own possession. He loves us prodigiously.

I must say this: Joy is not contingent on ‘good’ circumstances. A bad day at the office or a bill-collector at the door can’t nullify the Spirit’s ministry inside of us. We can be joyful in all circumstances without being comfortable with them. As a matter of fact, we can rejoice (joy, again) in our tribulations.

Ultimate joy is waiting for us. We must turn-off the TV and give our video games a rest, and press into communicating with God. Sometimes we’ll need to shut down the internet for a few hours, to keep ‘the spring bubbling’ fresh and clean.

It will take work to set the Lord before you,

you will have to say ‘No” to some things.

Awareness of Him through His Word and worship are good habits to have. They are essential for ‘broken believers’ that may struggle with physical or mental handicaps. They are as vital as the meds we must take.

 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!

Nehemiah 8:10

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