Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 17th 2014 Contents A36
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, September 17, 2014
When I speak among believers, I m always careful
to speak of God s intervention in my troubled times.
I m generally focused on What a Mighty God We
Serve. I recall sharing about the struggle to make
it through the week and the challenge to make it
to church and ended that testimony singing Rock
I realised quickly that some people only heard it
was a week of struggle and my tears of gratitude
were calculated as failure. And with inbuilt prejudg-
ment against mental health illnesses (MHIs) and dis-
quieting ignorance, someone successfully labelled
that moment as "negative." I stood accused of "holding
on to my illness and showing up God as though he s
unable to heal."
Even if (uninformed) leaders/followers assess some-
one s testimony about being in a depressive state as
weakness, a church that knows its Bible ought to
embrace that failing. St Paul s attitude and example
in 2 Corinthians 12:5 is, "I will not boast about myself,
except about my weaknesses."
God created me talented and resourceful and for
me illness is humbling, a reminder of the dust-in-
the-toes reality of mortals. My comfort has rested
always in the knowledge of Paul s sufferings, "There-
fore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited,
I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan,
to torment me," 2 Corinthians 12:7b.
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it
away from me," writes Paul, "But he said to me, My
grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made
perfect in weakness," 2 Corinthians 12: 8 - 9a.
Since God s power is made perfect in weakness,
weakness shouldn t be discounted in the church. The
scriptures credit the weak in spirit, mind, or body
with greater accessibility for God. The misguided
church preaches that we find our finest spiritual hour
in appearing strong.
Paul opened his letter to the Corinthians correcting
the mindset of the church over leadership saying,
"But God chose the foolish things of the world to
shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the
world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly
things of this world and the despised things--and
the things that are not--to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before him," 1 Corinthians
1:26 - 29.
Sharing about what his struggle with MHIs taught
him about God s power, Pastor Mike Erre says,
"Throughout my journey with anxiety and depression,
I was brought to the end of my own power. And it
was there that God s grace rested on me. I had lost
my hope in my personal charisma or charm, my
sweet stories or genius sermon illustrations. I was
at the end of my power. I didn t have the resources
to handle this."
Erre, a mental health patient, is senior pastor at
the mega congregation of First Evangelical Free Church
of Fullerton, California, USA. His online bio says he
holds an MA in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics
and has authored four books.
Like me, he s confident that it s at the point of
our weakness that God does some of his best work.
In an article titled The Way of Weakness on
www.christianitytoday.com he cites 2 Corinthians
12:9b - 10, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly
about my weaknesses, so that Christ s power may
rest on me. That is why, for Christ s sake, I delight
in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,
in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Erre shares of his recurring MHIs with his con-
gregation, "But there are still stigmas and stereotypes,"
he says. "Some people were unhappy with my open-
ness...They encouraged me to just pray more and
read the Bible. They wondered if I just didn t have
enough faith, or perseverance, or courage. But that
wasn t my experience.
"I waited years to get on medication," he says. "I
fasted, prayed against the demonic, exercised---did
everything I knew to do to deal with the problem.
CAROLINE C RAVELLO
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
God's power perfected in man's weakness
It wasn t until I took a holistic approach, one that
treated my body, emotions, brain, and spirit, that
I found help.
"I worked with a counsellor on my emotions,
with a spiritual director on my prayer life, with a
psychiatrist on my brain chemistry. And I worked
out every day. I tried my best to address every area
of my life necessary for recovery."
Unlike Erre, some churches/leaders do not make
room for God s idea of power. Believing that extrav-
agant amounts of "spiritual expressions" can replace
practising what the Bible teaches, Godly principles
(weakness included) are discounted because they
don t fit the (misleading) blissful image adopted
along the (wrong) way.
These churches become guilty of "having a form
of godliness but denying its power," 2 Timothy 3:5.
The power of God that s perfected in the weakness
Remarkably, Paul begins 1 Corinthians speaking
of God choosing the weak and ends his entreaty
in 2 Corinthians boasting about his weaknesses.
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