It is amazing how often in the Scriptures poverty is extolled. This doesn’t mean a lack of wealth, but rather the poverty of Spirit of which our Lord speaks of in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 6). This coming Sunday we have the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31), and the contrast between riches and poverty is once again held up. In the words of Luther, we are all beggars, this is true.
So what does this have to do with mental illness? A number of things come to mind:
- Being poor in spirit is not the same as a pity party. Those of us who suffer from depression are experts at pity parties. When our Lord speaks of being poor in spirit, he talks about knowing where and whom to trust. Trust not in princes, they are but mortal. My heart and my flesh fail me (Ps. 73:26). Commit your way to the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Being poor in spirt, like our Lord, like Lazarus, like the saints of old, means recognizing that all of our gifts come from our heavenly Father’s divine merciful hand.
- A lack of riches does not equal richness in faith. One can be both monetarily poor and spiritually poor at the same time. Greed and avarice afflict the rich and the poor alike.
- Mental illness lends itself to believing that God has abandoned you. Think of poor Lazarus. How could he not believe God had abandoned him? One could also think of Job, Elijah, and many others. Appearances, however, are deceiving. God does not abandon you because things stink. Our Lord Jesus Christ becomes poor with you, so that you may be rich in Him.
Just a few thoughts for the day. Now it’s time to go try and pay some bills. Now THAT’S depressing….