August 2, 2014

Jeremiah 20:13-14 Sing to the Lord!
Give praise to the Lord!
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hands of the wicked.
Cursed be the day I was born!
May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!

If Jeremiah were ministering today, he would be medicated at least and quite possibly institutionalized. His mood swings were such that today he would be diagnosed as manic/depressive (bi-polar) at least, and quite possibly schizophrenic. To me, that opens up the whole can of worms that is known as psychiatric medicine. I know that mental illness does exist, but secular “experts” who deny any spiritual connection make total wrecks of people’s lives all too often. When the Biblical pattern of deliverance from demonic spirits is brought up, such “experts” fall all over themselves deriding the very idea. At the same time, mental health professionals who are honest will concede that there are many phenomena that secular medicine can’t explain. I’ve been visiting patients at the Prefectural Mental Health Center (a rather large mental hospital) for over 20 years now, and the current Assistant Director is one such professional. Deliverance ministry as such aside, I have found that the biggest keys to helping people who are classified as patients are repentance and forgiveness, and both of those are predicated on a grasp of the love of God. People won’t repent unless they know that God’s love is greater than whatever they did/are doing, and they won’t forgive others without understanding the magnificence of the forgiveness that is available to them. Jeremiah here was dealing with the issue of God loving him despite what he was going through, and he certainly had forgiveness issues toward those who were mistreating him! That said, all theologians today would agree that Jeremiah was a spiritual giant, mightily used as a prophet of God. In other words, struggling with emotional issues doesn’t disqualify anyone, but when we rush to classify such struggles as illness, we often get in the way of the very restoration we say we seek.

I have no high horse from which to look down on anyone on this issue. I attempted suicide in college, and am no stranger to destructive behaviors. That’s why I am convinced that the love of God is the best medicine for every ill, and that those who are in Christ can be channels of that love. Some of the professionals at the mental hospital seem to resent me and my visits, and more restrictions have been placed on me the past couple of years. I don’t think they remember the patients who were successfully discharged because of my ministry, or else they are simply jealous. I’m not to let that deter me, but keep expressing God’s love to patients and staff alike, both through my words and through the simple fact that I care enough to show up, week after week. Patience is certainly a prime requirement! I cannot force the staff or the patients’ families to accept my ministry, because the vast majority have no real faith at all, and certainly not in Christ. Accordingly, my ministry is to them as well as to the patients. The task is totally beyond me, which is all the more reason to expect God to do more and more remarkable things, even using me.

Father, thank You for using me in that context. Thank You for those who have come to glorious faith. May I keep my eyes on You and not on the distractions, so that many people may be brought to Your full salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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