The idea that Christians should not suffer from mental illness has been around for a long time. This way of thinking perceives Christians as individuals who should never have any problems or obstacles to overcome. In a certain sense, it makes them out to be more than human.
Here’s the hard truth: When we are saved by God’s grace, we are not guaranteed an easy, pain-free life. In fact, Jesus even says that we will have troubles in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The difference between believers/followers of Christ and the rest of the world is that we have the Creator of the whole universe with us every step of the way. This world is a dark place, and troubles are guaranteed. Allison Benton, a student at Greenville University, shares a little bit about her own struggles with mental illness. She says “I think He has mostly shown me that no matter how I feel, it doesn’t change the fact that I was created in His image and I am truly loved.”
Mental illness, unfortunately, is a part of this world that many people will come face-to-face with. NAMI, National Alliance of Mental Illness, defined it as “a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood.” There are many conditions that can alter the brain’s working-state, and we cannot say there is one illness that is worse than the other. Christians are human and just as
Many people have asked if mental illness is a sin. While mental illness itself is not a sin, our actions can be. If we refuse to seek help when we need it or do what needs to be done in order for progress to be made, then we are sinning. God wants us to experience life in abundance, and if we are not willing to grow in this dark season of life, we are willingly giving up what God wants for us. Now, there are certain circumstances where psychotropic medication does not work for everyone. In this case, it is not a sin if a person chooses to not treat themselves this way. The point being, everyone should do what is necessary to help themselves grow, but one way doesn’t work for everyone.
Clayton Loraine, another student at Greenville University, opens up about how he views mental illness based on his experiences with it. He says “I’ve got a sister with a bunch of stuff including schizoaffective disorder (bipolar type) and reactive attachment disorder. It’s difficult seeing her sometimes acting out and being violent and also knowing that she is an amazing little girl when she isn’t having problems. It just takes realizing that she is separate from her illness.” He goes on to explain that another sibling of his that suffers from mental illness has had the ability to bring his family closer together. This is proof that God can take situations that hurt us and turn them into a blessing. Genesis 50:20 says “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good . . .”
1 Peter 5:6-7 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” Scripture doesn’t say to cast some of the anxiety unto Him, but all of it. This may be harder for some of us, but we do have a choice in whether or not we trust God. He says that in Him, mental illness cannot define anyone.
So, where is God’s light in the darkness? It’s right here.