Spiritual Poverty

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….

2 thoughts on “Spiritual Poverty”

  1. Good points to ponder in your post.

    I just now had to take the pickup to run an errand, and turned the radio on just in time to hear someone talking about the importance of optimism in our daily lives.

    Thinking God has abandoned us (as mentioned in your post) seems to be an extreme of pessimism……maybe depression is just that……pessimism gone to the extreme.

    The radio speaker cited studies which link an optimistic attitude to better physical health and longevity. Optimism, they said, prompts coping skills to develop during the good times, meaning when the bad times come along, an adequate mechanism is in place for coping. Optimism believes that there is something to be learned from adverse events in our lives.

    Anyway, long story short……The speaker encouraged doing this each evening: Write down three GOOD things that happened during the day. It will help one see differently and develop an optimistic view of daily life, with side effects of better health and contentment.

    The speaker wasn’t on a Christian radio station, but I thought what he said could certainly be applied in a Christian’s life, even a Lutheran’s life!!

  2. Good points to ponder in your post.

    I just now had to take the pickup to run an errand, and turned the radio on just in time to hear someone talking about the importance of optimism in our daily lives.

    Thinking God has abandoned us (as mentioned in your post) seems to be an extreme of pessimism……maybe depression is just that……pessimism gone to the extreme.

    The radio speaker cited studies which link an optimistic attitude to better physical health and longevity. Optimism, they said, prompts coping skills to develop during the good times, meaning when the bad times come along, an adequate mechanism is in place for coping. Optimism believes that there is something to be learned from adverse events in our lives.

    Anyway, long story short……The speaker encouraged doing this each evening: Write down three GOOD things that happened during the day. It will help one see differently and develop an optimistic view of daily life, with side effects of better health and contentment.

    The speaker wasn’t on a Christian radio station, but I thought what he said could certainly be applied in a Christian’s life, even a Lutheran’s life!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *