by Todd Brooks
"He who comforts us in all our afflictions that we also can comfort those who are in our afflictions, with that comfort by which we are comforted." 2 Corinthians 1:4
For all of us who are challenged with some level of brain disorder; i.e., mental illness, God calls us to comfort those who are like us.
For all of us who have lived and learned and are still learning to cope, there are many who have not and still suffer the full force of chilling mental disruption, fearing they must remain invisible; alone, with no help, no light, no acceptance.
For the many of us that have found ways to stay above the water line (so to speak) long enough to get one breath, then two and maybe three, we have knowledge to be shared with those who know not.
If you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, if you suffer from any form of mental disorder and your today is brighter than yesterday, if you have or are accepting that life change is inevitable and a decision you are fully empowered to make (better - if you are willing to allow Him to make necessary changes through you), then you know that God has truly not forsaken you. He has a plan for you. To Him, there is no such thing as mental illness.
He created you, fully knowing your future.
Then, there is the other future (John 3:16) He holds for you, one that comes with a promise, that if you choose to confess that you are lost and without eternal hope, if you choose to trust and obey Him for your future, He will be your heavenly Father, who knows and loves you and promises the following future for you, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) The plans He has prepared for you include you as you are, with what man labels as mental illness.
God is not restrained by anything that is part of His creation. He could cure you, where man can only test mice in a lab. But, He chose to give you the choice of a future with or without Him. He knows you may not choose Him. He's the one that decided to give you true "freedom of choice." His first priority is always to heal you of your sin, so that whether He allows you to be cured of your infirmity or maybe he carries you through life in your infirmity, He will get the glory.
If you want the promise God makes above, you must give your life from this moment (why not now?) forward to Him, without abandon; fully sell yourself out to Him and accept sight-unseen His plans for you.
I'm praying right now for you to receive His free gift of eternal salvation. Why don't you pray the following to yourself (if you've never prayed, it's okay - just talk to Him - He's listening right now):
"Jesus, I need you. I've come to the end of myself and no one is there to help me. I've tried everything I know how to do to make me happy, to be successful. I've done a lot of good for people, but I did it in my name, not yours. It's hard for me to admit, but no matter what I gain for myself, it is never enough. And this mental disorder, it's painful, I'm scared. I'm admitting to you that I need you.
Jesus, I've been told that if I cry out your Name, if I surrender my life, my future self, if I believe that you are Jesus the Christ, the only Son of God, who died for my wrongdoings, then by faith in YOU ALONE, I will be saved, I will be healed, cleansed of my sins against you, cloaked for all eternity in your purity; BORN AGAIN, this time into Your Kingdom, that you will always and forever be with me, always be aware of my infirmities, always be wherever I am to help me; able now to execute the 'plans you have for me.'
I'm scared, Jesus, but I give my life to you this moment. Do with me as you please. In Jesus' name. Amen."
If you chose to make the commitment and prayed the above, you may have just felt at ease for the first time in your life, you may have gotten a chill, you may have smiled, you may not have noticed anything at all.
But, you are now sealed for all eternity by the promise of the God of the Bible Himself. You have chosen an eternity with God. You can check that off your bucket list. And, if you choose to grow from your current infant state of Christianity, be prepared to see miracles in and around you, as He is your heavenly Father, and He will bless you!
How do I grow? Now what? To start, seek out a local church this next Saturday or Sunday; a bible-believing church. If you are in the Dallas, TX area, here are a couple of ideas to get you started (Google any of the following): Fellowship Church (Grapevine/Ed Young, Sr. Pastor), Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano/Jack Graham, Sr. Pastor), Stonebriar Community Church (Frisco/Chuck Swindoll, Sr. Pastor), Irving Bible Church (Irving/Andy McQuitty, Sr. Pastor) and many others.
All you need to do is walk in, tell just about anyone there that looks like they know the place that you are a new Christian and want to know more about church. That's all it will take. Be prepared to be honored for your decision to trust in Jesus Christ and treated like royalty. Some day, you will do the same for another.
Oh, back to my main point. If you are a Christian and your life has improved, even with the infirmity that you have, then you must "comfort those who are in our affliction." Peace be with you and yours. As my wife Julie often reminds me, it just may be that our infirmity is the normal the Lord seeks, in that our focus, our anxiousness, our creativity, as Christians, often leads us back to Him. He likes when we seek to remain close to Him.