Over at Christianity Today, writer David Weiss offers a searing and poignant glimpse at mental illness — his own — and how it led him more deeply into his faith:
I need to remind myself often how fortunate I am to have a loving family that supports me, gifted doctors who understand mental illness, medicine that manages my condition, and a God whose mercy never ceases.
In addition, no longer did I suffer alone, but amid a great brotherhood of pain-stricken fellows who mistakenly believed, as I once had, that no one else understands our plight. Such people are everywhere in a fallen world. I have met victims of divorce, cancer, attempted suicide, murder, and other horrors. And really, we are not so different from each other. Pain has invaded our lives, a pain more powerful than our isolated efforts to overcome it. We each look within ourselves, trying to make sense of our individual calamities. And while there is nothing wrong with introspection, we run the risk of never looking outward again.
Of course, whether we suffer alone or with others, the question “Why?” will never be answered, at least in this lifetime. Who knows why God allows pain? Who knows why God sometimes seems to leave us alone? People have asked these questions since they first puzzled over the causes of lightning and rain. Bad things just happen, we say, and it isn’t anybody’s fault. There’s no rhyme or reason. But even when we cannot grasp the sources of our misfortunes, we can strive to learn the right lessons…
When my psychiatrist asked me why I still believed in God, I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t. I still don’t know if the treatment was worth the pain. I have a multitude of problems, not all of them related to mental illness. I am not a prophet who has received great enlightenment. But I do have some hard-fought wisdom to impart.
Though my illness persists, I have finally met the God I had heard about but never truly experienced. A God who heals. A God who loves. A God I cannot logically explain to my psychiatrist. A God who manifests his genius by salvaging good from the evil in our lives. Someone unlike me. Someone unlike the well-meaning inquisitors who judged me and sought to spiritually cure me. Someone I never would have discovered without my affliction.
A God who calls himself Emmanuel—God with us.
Read it all. It’s a remarkable testament of survival and hope.