This is an excerpt from the book Hating God: How the Christian Church is Failing Depressed America–And What to Do About It by Pilisa S. Hamrick. To request a full copy just come up and talk to me! Or you can email me at email@example.com.
“What is our purpose here on Earth as Christians? I like to think that it is to glorify God by being his hands and feet. I try to do that by living each moment with the intent to help further his kingdom. One of the ways we can do this is with our testimony. God doesn’t allow things to happen to us without reason. All of our struggles and sins, they are a part of our story. God uses our stories so that we may connect with others, that through us they may come to know him.
This gives me comfort because I know that every trial that is thrown my way is something that God is going to use for his glory. Thus, the more stuff that I go through here on Earth, the more great things are going to be accomplished through me. Everybody has a story and everybody is required to share their story and use it for good. But those who have overcome things such as mental health and addiction have some of the most powerful testimonies, and can accomplish the most impactful outreach.
The church is doing itself a great disservice by not providing a refuge to these individuals. When Christians blame or judge someone for these things, they are potentially causing someone to step away from the faith. Consequently, they lose an abundant opportunity for evangelism.
Imagine what would happen if the church became a place with a reputation for showing love and compassion to those who are sick. Imagine if more people decided to turn to church in the middle of their struggle. Imagine if those one in five Americans, who might otherwise have nowhere else to turn for support, came to church and heard the gospel. What would that do for our father’s kingdom?
We need to start creating a more welcoming environment. That comes with understanding. If we can educate ourselves better on what mental illness actually is, we can be more supportive to those who have it.
We need to change the way we address people who approach us with this problem. When it first came out at my church I attended at the time that I was struggling, I received many different reactions and very rarely were they positive. I had people whom I trusted who simply stopped speaking to me. They thought that I was selfish for struggling with suicidal thoughts. Some people blamed me for what I was going through. I felt like they were scoping every part of my life to try and find some secret sin that caused my brain to betray me.
Then there were the people with the good intentions, the one’s who thought they had the cure. They would tell me to pray more, tell me that once I get closer to God I will no longer be depressed.
All of these people were wrong. It is possible to love Jesus and still become sick. And becoming sick does not mean that you love Jesus less.
This was not my fault. I was not being selfish. I couldn’t be cured with prayer alone. I needed medicine, therapy, etc.… But most of all I needed a friend, and I did not find that at church.
To be clear, I am not at all saying that I did not need God to be healed. Quite the opposite, actually. He was all that I needed. It was God that placed the right doctors in my life. It was God that gave them the knowledge to put me on the right medication. It was God that placed good people in my life to help me find clarity. What I’m saying is that there were people that tried to convince me that God was going to heal me supernaturally, without medicine or doctors. And that simply was not true.
I believe that coming to God in prayer as you are struggling is the most comforting thing you can do but God doesn’t work on prayer alone. When I was sick the most important thing I should have done was cry out to Jesus, and come to God in prayer. But instead, I ran the other way. That was my choice. But it was a choice influenced by the ignorance of the people around me.”