(September 10, 2007)

A while ago I had an article published on with the above title. The first person to comment did not like my view at all, arguing that: “It’s bad. It’s a defect in our brain functioning. There is no gift from God about it. Mental illness is bad”

I wondered whether I had gone too far with finding good in it. But today I once more looked into Harold Koenig’s Faith and Mental Health and found that this doctor and author whom I respect, says very similar things:

“A religious perspective on mental illness can lighten the burden by emphasizing that even these dreaded conditions have the possibility of good. Pain, suffering and fear associated with mental illness are not experiences that anyone would seek after. However, what does a person do if he or she has such a condition?”

“In order to survive and maximize quality of life, it may help to adopt a religious view that sees mental illness as having a special meaning or purpose-that something good may someday result from the illness. Religious faith makes it possible for people to see their illnesses as serving a higher purpose.

“Religious faith may help to transform a person’s view of his or her illness. Although not easy, it is possible to view mental illness as a gift that not only helps to deepen and sensitize the person who has it, but also can serve a key role in the ‘formation’ of our faith communities.

“From this perspective, mental illness can have at least three purposes. It can

  1. sensitize the emotionally or mentally ill person to the pain and suffering of others, uniquely equipping them with the insight and ability to help;
  2. draw the sufferer closer to God or deepen their spirituality; and
  3. challenge those in the faith community to support and include him or her as an integral part of the congregation.”

I’m not crazy after all!!! I’m not alone in feeling this way – in believing in the importance of developing this kind of attitude.

And for you who have doubts, I can tell you that your mental illness CAN be like a gift, though not one you would ask for or one you would just love to receive. Yet if you believe in God’s love and trust him, you will find out that “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

And…standing on my evangelical preaching stool…I will tell you that this can happen for you too. TRUST God, BELIEVE what the Bible tells you. It really makes a lot of sense. Hold up Jesus as your example to LOVE OTHERS and to LOVE GOD, and believe that Jesus took all the bad stuff we have done – sacrificing his life for us. WE ARE FORGIVEN and free to live the kind of life God means for us to live. And living that kind life is not a burden – it is actually very freeing and brings great joy.

Honest!! I promise.