19th December - People with mental health problems

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4.9-12

"They come from God."
"They come from your imagination."
"Of course. That is how the messages of God come to us."
-- George Bernard Shaw, "Saint Joan"

Mental illness is everywhere. It can affect anyone, Christian or not, laity or clergy. The WHO estimates that one person in four will suffer it in their lifetime. Think about how many people that is within your own church. Is it safe for them to admit it to their church family? Or must they suffer invisibly?

What could keep them silent? Sometimes it's fear of rejection, of the stigma that mental illness (madness, lunacy..) once carried, and still does, even in offhand jokes. In some cases it has even been attributed to demonic possession, by those who would never blame demons for a broken leg. As Dwight Carson put it: why do Christians shoot their wounded?

Yet God can use everyone, and not only on condition that they've been healed. Indeed, he often has special purposes for those whom the world regards as weak. If we fail to welcome the mentally ill as our siblings in Christ, we fail to welcome Jesus himself.

Thomas has suffered from depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder for decades; he belongs to a church family in Salford.

Daily prayer

Lord, thank you for inviting us to your great banquet. Thank you that you have gone out into the streets and invited everyone, even those the world was not expecting to see there. Please help us welcome the mentally ill with open arms, at whatever stage in their journey they find themselves.
For the sake of your Son, who was also called mad.


Lord, in this time of Advent open our hearts to those who feel excluded from Your church.
Help us draw in those on the margins and place them in the centre of our family.