Mental Illness is one of the most misunderstood maladies in our society. I believe that mentally Ill people are unfairly stigmatized, especially by the church. A lot of people try and lump all mentally ill people in the category or “demonized” or “criminal”. Mental illness is just that…AN ILLNESS! Imagine if you went to church and you told your pastor you were diagnosed with Cancer, and he brought you to the front of the church and tried to cast a devil out of you, you wouldn’t like that would you? Well that is how mentally ill people are often viewed in churches. Now as a clergyman and a theologian I realize that there ARE demons and at times people are under heavy demonic influence, however the church does a great disservice to people when they lump everyone in a “demonic pool”.
Mental Illness can affect anyone at any time; I have had my own bouts with depression and insecurities from things I experienced as a child. There are numerous biblical references to depression, one of the human race’s most common and distressing afflictions. It is likely that the first humans to experience depression were Adam and Eve, after they sinned against God. This book is a careful examination of humans in the Bible that suffered from mental distress and illness. After reading the Psalms of David many times I have concluded that David may have suffered from Clinical Depression. (Psalm 13 and 18)
While sin is the main cause of all of man’s distress, some people are innocent in that they have been the victims of rape, molestation, and torture of some kind that may have caused the mental torment they endured. I pray this book helps you realized that the person sitting next to you in church may be in need of your understanding and compassion. When we go to church on Sunday we “put on” our best face, behind the face may be depression and anxiety. Many great men and women in the Bible suffered from mental illness and distresses. Having faith doesn’t exempt us from trouble and pain. I have been a minister for over 27 years and a Chaplain in a Psychiatric Hospital the last 3. Most of my patients are people of faith, and they love God just as much as you or I.
Mentally Ill people are just like you or I, they have hopes and dreams and can accomplish things for God and man. Every human has within their spirit a plan and a purpose given by the Creator that needs to be fulfilled. If you are mentally ill I pray this book helps you are not alone, God cares and so do I. If you are not mentally ill then I pray this book makes you more sensitive to their dilemma. When I was 12 years old my doctor wanted to medicate me because I was diagnosed as being “hyperactive”, my mother refused to medicate me, I am glad she did. However I DO believe medicine can help and does help a lot of people. Unlike many clergymen I am NOT anti-medicine; I believe God gave men the intellect to create medicine. I believe faith and medicine combined is what helps many people. In my case I use prayer, meditation, and music to lift me out of my bouts with depression. Whatever works for you, use it! But get help when you need it.
Chaplain Mark H. Stevens, ThD