I have never heard a sermon on mental illness
1/12/2017 8:47:02 PM
Those who deny the reality of mental illness

What to do with the struggle?  (follows “Struggling, by any chance?”)


Ricky V. was of Columbian and Portuguese descent but was quickly adopted out, so as not to disgrace his 15-year-old mother’s family.  His chances would have been much better with her it seems, as the young woman who became ‘mom’ set him and his brother up for nothing but abuse and heartache.  


‘Mom’ was an alcoholic and a drug user.  Married four times, she looked the other way as each new man that came into their lives violently abused Ricky—in every way possible.  He quickly learned that finishing the leftover booze and pills numbed him to the ever-present pain of his life. 


He ran away from home the first time at nine years old, and by the time he was 13, Ricky V was a ward of the court… just thirteen years old and alone in the world.  Juvenile and foster homes perpetuated the same pattern of abuse, violence and neglect. 


The anger grew inside of Ricky as he became “anti” about everything, but found an outlet for his violent feelings, and a sense of family and belonging in the infamous Los Angeles’ ‘18th Street Gang.’


Ricky V. was in my group of Long Beach street friends who I met with weekly for prayer and light Bible study.  There was no real mystery about the source of his addictions and mental anguish.1 


But even when we know the catalyst for our own

or our loved ones’ mental struggles,

dealing with them can be exhausting, agonizing

and crazy-making itself.


All of us face worries and concerns of various kinds as they are a part of life.  Jesus himself said, ‘In this world you will have trouble.’2 The challenge comes in keeping those troubles from becoming crippling fears.  Once again, let us look to David from whom there is so much to be learned.


Take note of the subscript:3

PSALM 34 - A psalm of David, regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away.  So while David was on the run,

while he was in the midst of the storm, and afraid…

David made a disciplined, Intentional choice to trust God,

and then he gave voice to praise.


“I will praise the Lord at all times.       no matter the circumstances

     I will constantly speak his praises.      utter aloud praise to God 

I will boast only in the Lord;

    let all who are helpless take heart.    Don’t give up.  God is near to you!

Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; look back, remember his faithfulness

    let us exalt his name together.


I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  God longs to answer your prayers

    He freed me from all my fears.      In Christ, there is freedom

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; wait…joy??

    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

In my desperation, I prayed, and the Lord listened;

    he saved me from all my troubles.

For the angel of the Lord is a guard;

    he surrounds and defends all who fear him.4


After the last Morning Briefing, [Struggling at the start of a New Year: http://pastorwoman.com/ReadArchive.aspx?id=2818], I heard from a number of you who are endeavoring to parent adult children with mental illness . . . a cause of tremendous of anxiety.  How to sleep at night?  How to keep the fear of the future from paralyzing us?  David leads by example in the above verses and then says to you and to me:


Taste and see that the Lord is good.  God is good, oh so good

    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Fear the Lord, you his godly people,

    for those who fear him will have all they need.

Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,

    but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.5


Friends, we must take our thoughts captive to keep the train on the tracks!

Meditating on the truths of scripture, and memorizing them reminds us that                                God is good, and he is trustworthy … riiiight? 

Our Lord said, “…in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble.                                                   But take heart! I have overcome the world.”6 


One more thing: do not isolate.  So – you or your loved one are experiencing mental or emotional difficulties?  Do not make yourself even more vulnerable by staying away from those who will encourage and build you up, for if you do, the fears in your own mind will surely derail you. 


Look to God, dig into this Psalm 34--rub your Bible on you, (ha!), ask for prayer.  Let God come and do what only he can do.  I am with you, I am for you.



1 – Tales from the street, archived at Pastorwoman.com

2 – John 16.33

3 – when reading the psalms, the subscripts are telling of the psalmists’ disposition when writing

4 – Psalm 34.1-7

5 – Psalm 34.8-10