Faith, Struggles, And The Mentally Ill

I'm disappointed a bit in this life, for the lack of love shown amidst having suffering and trials, amidst personal sin and temptation.

Human love, evidently even lots of so-called Christian love, can be so shallow.

Somehow we've adopted the self-help method from popular culture, advocating self-sufficiency, to be part of the mentality that "God helps those who helps themselves." But the truth is that God works in our weakness.

I think if there is one thing I've learned that goes along with this type of advocacy is the myth that mentally ill people somehow have to muster up enough faith to be healed by Jesus. The fact is, our faith that we already have in Christ that saved us, is enough to heal us if God wills. God desires us to be healed, but his will is sometimes different than what we expect, eventually accomplishing His desires, but in a way of suffering. It's not that we don't believe, and mixed it with faith to be healed, as mentally ill people, in fact farther could be the truth. Physical, mental, and emotional problems don't always get healed. God told us we would have tribulation and suffering in this world - let's accept that suffering and move on the best we can, depending on each other's compassion and love and prayer to get through each day - and ignore the ones who say we suffer because we lack faith.

For it says to "mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice."
Hey Banjo, I'll tell you a story about a man I once worked with. This man had an acquired brain injury from a car crash. Prior to the crash, I am told, he had lived a life of crime and violence, and was frequently in prison. I met him about 10 years after the crash, and although he couldn't communicate verbally, I found him to be the most servant hearted person I'd ever met. He was very gentle and compassionate, always looking for ways to help those around him who were struggling. During the week I spent time with him, he made it his personal mission to help a frail, elderly blind man with a mental illness get to the toilet whenever he needed to get there. Because it was very difficult to communicate with him, I don't know what was going on in his heart in terms of his relationship with God. But I couldn't help but wonder if God hadn't somehow used this man's disability to bring about spiritual healing in his life. I don't know for sure. But who knows. What can we say about a man of anger who once lived to hurt others, but now joyfully lives to serve them? God doesn't have to work in the way that it occurs to us He should work, amen?

I've been working with people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses for a number of years, and when I began that work, yeah, I did feel burdened about why God didn't heal people who were suffering through so many complex issues. I've since come to change my perspective, and pray for spiritual healing in their lives instead. I don't know what's going on in anyone's heart or mind, but out God knows the hearts and minds of all people. People with mental illnesses can find their strength in God and be people of incredible faith, knowing the pain of a world corrupted by sin and hoping in the promise of heaven and a new body, just like anyone else can. None of us can judge the quality of another person's faith simply by how "healed" they appear to us.

"Mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice." That is a great way of thinking about how we can support the needs of anyone around us. Thanks so much for your post. It brought back a lot of memories for me.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1. Let me let you in on a secret (that you might already know).....Faith is God's. "Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." 1 Peter 1:21. Catch that? Our faith and hope are IN GOD. God gives Faith. "...God has allotted to each a measure of faith." Romans 12:3c. It is God who gives Faith, it is God in Whom is Faith....God is Faith. Faith is not something that we muster up within ourselves (for then would it not be a work of man)? Faith is not a power that, if you have more of it, you can get your way with God! Faith is God's and He gives us each our amount of it.....God help us if we start putting down brother and sisters that have more or less of it then we have ourselves! That misses the heart of Christ completely!

But "living with something" is also the world's way. They have no recourse: nothing to turn to once they exhaust their own ideas and attempts at getting rid of the problem (or the heartache), so they have to "live with it." "And by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5c. But, as children of the most High God, have the ultimate recourse! :)

Christ said that those who believe in Him would do greater works then He. ""Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father." John 14:12. These signs were to happen as a continuation of Christ's ministry. And those signs include healing. "And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18.

We are in a battle that is spiritual. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12. This is a battle....we don't have to let the tactics of the enemy (sin, fear, disease etc.) defeat us. Look at Psalm 91 - this is the kind of protection God is willing to give us - and it covers everything! :)

But of course with healing (just as with everything) God looks at the heart. I once heard a story about a healing service in Canada - people were getting healed of all kinds of ailments and problems. But there was one guy at the back of the room with a broken arm that wasn't coming forward to be healed. God revealed to the minister why: this man was getting disability benefits. If he got healed....then he would have to go back to work. He didn't want to be healed.

None of this means we will be without suffering. God can and does get great glory from this - and we learn His faithfulness and how to fight spiritually during the hard times. But it also means that we can look forward to times of refreshing and healing - in this life and eternity. "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." 1 Peter 5:10.

So God can withhold healing because 1) He will get glory at the right time (John 9:1-5). 2) the person doesn't really believe Him at His Word that He can and/or wants to or 3 )the person doesn't really want to be healed or 4) the person that needs healing just may be in ignorance about the fact that God still heals today and has offered that to us! :)

So yes we suffer - and yes some problems can be with us a long time. But it doesn't stop there.