Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The devil's schemes?

Dream Writer asked some questions in response to my last post: "Why does the church feel this way about mental illness? Why do they feel it is evil or the devil? Do they feel that way with "normal depression?"

Protestant churches don’t have an organized view on mental illness. But many Christians believe that, once you’ve become a Christian, you’re going to be emotionally well. You should be joyful – together. If you’re not, they might look on you as weak and probably “not right with God.” There’s also all the stuff in the Bible about demon possession, which I don’t think anyone fully understands, but some people think they do. I need to stress, though, that not all Christians have such a strong view.

There IS evil in the world, as there is goodness. God is good. He wants what is best for us. I believe that all will turn out for good when we cling to God, even when we go through horrendous times. This will be hard to recognize at the time. (Faith is valuable here.) When we become distanced from God – as we all do at times (good Christians included) – the devil takes advantage of those opportunities.

I believe that when something bad happens in our life, the devil (or evil forces, or force of darkness, as he’s often referred to in the Bible) makes us feel discouraged and hopeless. If we stay close to God, we would be better able to find patience, perseverance, and hope. When we’re not able to do that because of the symptoms of our illness, some people consider that as the devil at work. The thing is, the devil does this to everyone – not only people with mental health problems.

Personally, when I struggle, I prefer not to look at the devil’s “schemes”. I prefer to focus (really hard) on God and ignore the evil side. I think it’s far more useful in helping me cope. Praying for the devil to leave me would not be helpful at all. What I want is prayer for God to uphold me.

The problem with many Christians is that they don't understand the medical angles of bipolar disorder, depression, and all the other mental illnesses. They end up assuming that the problem is all spiritual. It must be the devil.

Just a bit to show you what the Bible has to say on this. I like this:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…but against the spiritual forces of evil… Ephesians 6:10-12 (excerpted)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a comment from the nut gallery...

When I was in a hospital, there was a protestant minister (baptist background) who came regularly for the patients; mentally ill patients. I asked him a similar question. He said there is no reference to the mentally ill or being mentally ill and it being evil in the bible.....
I asked why he worked there...
he answered, "Because my wife is Bipolar."