With a prayer for peaceful hearts this Christmas time:
As someone who also lives with bipolar disorder - a medical illness - I find this tragic. For a person who is already suffering to be told she's not right with God is painful. It damages a person's relationship with her Christian friends and her church. Some even come to believe that it IS the devil that is the cause of their troubles and refuse to take the medication that would help them survive.
Would a person in hospital because of a heart attack, a stroke, or Alzheimer's be prayed for in this way? Can you imagine how that can make a person feel?
I believe churches should, at least once a year, receive a message from the pulpit on the truths about mental illness. I know that pastors don't usually preach about illnesses, but in this case, congregants need to learn how to separate the spiritual from the medical. Too many are uninformed and make things worse because they don't know how to best support people who are going through emotional trauma. The kind of support such individuals need is very similar to the support people with physical illness need: practical help with things like meals and transportation, and a sympathetic ear. Church leaders can help their church family learn how to provide this.
There are two excellent opportunities each year for such a sermon. This upcoming year, May 7 - 13 is Mental Health Week. In October there is a Mental Health Awareness Week as well.
If you know someone who is a pastor, could you please forward this message on to him or her? You would be doing a big service for the many who suffer from mental illness and need to be understood.
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness
and the world's deep hunger meet." - Frederick Buechner