Today I want to talk about a touchy subject–one that most people want to deny exists, especially if it’s going on in their own family. If this goes on in a family, it generally is a well-kept secret. It’s a secret because other people don’t understand. They fear, judge, or simply don’t know how to respond.
The subject: mental illness. Though this subject is avoided, or even covered up, this should not be. Especially among Christians. The Church should be a support system. We should be able to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ and they should empathize and offer support. Instead, we live our lives in silence. Sometimes we endure the judgment of the very people who should be supporting us.
I am pondering this for a couple of reasons. One is that Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church is returning to the pulpit this weekend, following the loss of his son to suicide. His son had a mental illness. He is in my prayers. The other reason is more personal.
Why do you think it’s so hard for families to reach out for support? How do you think Christians should respond to families who are dealing with mental illness? How do you think Christian families should deal with mental illness? If you have this issue in your family, what has been helpful to you? What has not been helpful?
Mental illness is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care how good or godly one’s family is. The enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy, and mental illness is one way he does this.
Rick Warren is the pastor of Saddleback Church in California, which is the eighth largest church in America. Warren authored the best selling devotional book, The Purpose-Driven Life, which I found to be life-changing.
One might expect someone like Warren to have a near-perfect family. However, Warren’s son, Matthew, 27, took his life yesterday after a lifelong battle with depression. What a tragedy this family is going through and has gone through for Matthew’s entire life! I really feel for them. I have been through depression and I know how serious it can be. But I can’t imagine battling it for 27 years.
I also know what it’s like to have children with special needs. I know how much of an impact it can have on a family. Though the Warrens are in intense pain right now–unimaginable pain–their pain didn’t start yesterday. I know they have struggled for 27 years with the pain of watching their son battle an unseen enemy and with the family dynamics that come from having a child with special needs.
Here is a link to the letter Warren wrote to his congregation concerning his son’s death: http://twitpic.com/chhl8v
I will be praying for the Warren family. I also will be praying for people I know who battle with mental illness. Will you please join me?