By Nancy Virden (c)2021
Two thousand years ago, Jesus and his disciples wore sandals. With toes exposed, they walked on dirt roads, damp beaches, desert sands, and in river waters and wheatfields. The thresholds of rich and poor, super-religious and not, and healthy and ill, welcomed the Teacher and his perpetual students.
The most staunchly rule-adherent religious leaders mocked Jesus for where and even when he walked. How dare you eat with those scum, how dare you heal on the Sabbath? Jesus knew their thoughts, and continued to meet the needs of desperate crowds anyway.
Today, a different kind of chastising of Jesus is happening. He said, “And the King [Jesus] will answer them, ‘Don’t you know? When you cared for one of the least of these, my little ones, my true brothers and sisters, you demonstrated love for me.’ “(Matthew 25:40) Yet we marginalize people who are his very heart. Unlike him, we aren’t willing to get our feet dirty.
Stigma surrounding those who live with a mental illness is damaging in society at-large and in the church.. Imagine asking for help and being chided for not trusting God enough or failing to practice gratitude. Worse yet, what if your pain is ignored?
When it takes more than two or three weeks to feel better, people in general lose patience. Comments intended to cheer up one with depression for example, can contain generalized assumptions like, “There’s no need to feel down when we praise God.”
The Bible tells us otherwise. An astute reader will recognize depression and anxiety in the accounts of some faithful believers. One can see that God is present and comforting in our troubles and not kicking us about. He continues to meet us where we are today, embracing us in our suffering. He walks with us in our despair.
Mental illness is stigmatized, however not by our Savior. He allows us time to learn how to climb out of the dark.
Today’s Helpful Word
Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
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