Mental Illness

ltMentalIllnessBoth of my kids had friends in high school who attempted suicide. One of my kids had more than one friend attempt to end his life. Thankfully, no one was successful.

When I was in high school I didn’t know anyone who attempted suicide.

In over twenty years of pastoral ministry I have probably dealt with attempted suicides a dozen times. I have had people attempt to end their lives at youth camp and even on mission trips. Again, thankfully, no one has been successful.

Years ago, a young man in my church will killed in a single car accident. His family was convinced it was suicide, but there is no one of knowing for sure.

I don’t understand mental illness.

I don’t understand what causes a person to think the only answer is to end it all.

But I do know mental illness is real.

And scary.

And I am afraid the number of people who suffer from this disease and the number of people who will attempt suicide will only increase.

I pray I am wrong.

Over the last several months, for different reasons and for different people, I have had had to visit a local, in-patient, psychiatric hospital. On one recent visit, an orderly rode down the elevator with me. While together she asked me if I was visiting a family member. I explained I was a pastor and was visiting a church member. She sounded surprised and then commented with a hint of sadness, “You know, very few pastors ever visit anyone in this hospital. Thank you.”

I wonder why that is?

mental-illness-not-contagiousPastors make regular visits to hospitals to pray with and encourage congregants with physical ailments. Why don’t more pastors visit those with mental illnesses?

I don’t know the answer.

I do believe Jesus deeply cares for those suffering with depression and other mental issues. I do believe He wants them to be healed. I also believe He uses others in the healing process and so we, as pastors, are missing out on a huge opportunity to see Jesus work when we avoid getting involved in this issue.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Mental Illness

  1. I definitely think this is an overlooked issue. I have heard more than one minister say that mental illness is a spiritual problem because the Bible says “You will keep him in perfect peace,
    Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” And then they say that’s the only answer anyone needs for depression, anxiety, loneliness, etc. I also know that most of us feel so inadequate, even scared, when it comes to engaging the mentally ill. Thanks for talking about it.

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