24th December - People with severe depression

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them.'

Revelation 21:3

James was a good friend. We had worked alongside each other on children's camps for several years. I struggled to believe it when I was told he had committed suicide by jumping under a train. He had become mentally ill; we thought he was getting better through medication and support.

When years later a colleague in ministry's wife hung herself we were all shocked to the core. I still weep when I think of her but know she is with the Lord she loved and served.

These are extreme examples but sometimes it is extremes that wake us up to reality. Mental health issues affect every walk of life, every work place, community and church. The church needs to be more open about the realities of mental health issues in our society, and within our churches. We need to recognise that a very high percentage of people have periods of mental ill health; some live with permanent issues. The increasing levels of this during childhood must be a cause for deep concern. There are no simple answers but loving care, welcome, listening and support all matter.

I am sure that some of the prophets would be diagnosed as having mental health problems if alive now. They spoke the word of the Lord. So I suggest we need to understand that mental health concerns may be at times God's creative offering to us, not just concerns.

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham

Daily prayer

Lord, help us to show the same compassion, love and support to those with mental health problems as those with physical illnesses.


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.