Recently, there have been lots of incidents of mass shootings. Later, it will be reported that the gunman had a mental illness. These people are giving mental illnesses bad publicity. Not everyone that suffers from a mental illness is going to take out their anger on the innocent. It is even harder to figure out how God plays into the whole picture of mental illness, especially when some people do not believe in mental illness at all.
One time, my best friend asked me whether I believed that mental illnesses are imaginative or whether they are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. I hadn’t given much thought to it before but I told her that I believed that they were chemical. After discovering that I suffer from depression, I gave mental illnesses a lot more thought.
Some people do not actually believe in mental illnesses. There are several excuses these people give. Some say that we choose our emotions and must live with the consequences. They say that with a positive attitude, mental illnesses can be prevented. Others say that mental illnesses were not a problem in Biblical times and were never mentioned specifically in the Bible. They say that mental illnesses are a modern invention to legitimatize sinful behavior.
I am under a different opinion. After suffering from the effects of depression for several years, I know that mental illnesses are real. The main symptom of depression is sadness. Nobody voluntarily chooses to be sad. Nobody wishes for a long, sad life. Everyone is always looking for the key to happiness. And before I knew much about depression, I actually tried to snap out of my depression. It turns out that that is impossible. A positive attitude isn’t going to get me anywhere. I am sure the five hundred people worldwide that suffer from some sort of mental illness also agree with me.
Whether you believe in mental illness or not, everyone still deserves to be treated equally. As Pope John Paul II said “Whoever suffers from mental illness always bears God’s image and likeness in themselves, as does every human being. In addition, they ‘always’ have the inalienable right not only to be considered as an image of God and therefore a person, but also to be treated as such.” Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan once compared a person suffering from a mental illness to Jesus on the cross. He said that a person with a mental illness may experience scorn, rejection, loneliness, and deprivation, just like Jesus did in his lifetime.
I once told God that He couldn’t use me because I had depression. But God just laughed and revealed just how He planned to use me. I know a lot about depression. Not only have I done the research, I have experienced it first hand. I have the symptoms memorized. God told me that I could use my knowledge of depression in my writing for Him. I am now a Christian writer with a focus on depression and other mental illnesses.
God also used several well known Biblical characters for His work even though they might possibly have suffered from depression. While depression is not mentioned specifically, it is probably that these important people were depressed.
- Abraham-Genesis 15
- Jonah (Chapter 4)
- Elijah (1 Kings 19)
- King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23)
If God can do His work through these individuals despite depression, then God can use me too. And whether you actually believe in mental illnesses or not, everyone still deserves to be treated as humans, whether they have are healthy or suffer from a mental illness.