Steps of Healing: Bible Study and Prayer

How do these help in divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you might be wondering why I didn’t bring this up first? One reason is most of us already know this. Many of us get tired of hearing just to read your Bible and pray when we have a hard time.

I will also say sometimes I find these to be difficult. I have read the Bible all my life and it’s hard to sit down and look at a text and try to find something you haven’t before. I really question people when they say “I get something new out of the Bible everyday.”

This also relates to prayer. Many of when we’re Christians around other Christians want to present our best spiritual sides. Greg Koukl has talked about these people such as they say something like “I was thinking about you while I was memorizing Jeremiah” or “You came to my heart during my third prayer time today.”

Most people don’t want to present spiritual struggles. They just want to present spiritual successes. Color me skeptical if I meet someone who only has successes to talk about and no failures.

So with Bible study, for me it’s reading a chapter of both testaments in the morning before I get up. I pray beforehand and I pray after. Those can be good times to learn something, but there’s also one other interesting way I read the Scripture.

Before I go to bed, I read just one verse of a book and go through it and just think about that while I go to sleep. Sometimes, I don’t get a lot, but sometimes I do. Right now, I’m going through the book of Revelation and reading it slowly is a great way to approach the text differently.

Now as for prayer, prayer can be difficult for me since it can be hard to know how to talk to ordinary people and so much more so, a divine person. I’m also super-skeptical of many people who talk about listening in prayer, which I never hear being spoken of as a regular practice in the Bible.

For prayer then, I do so in the morning and in the evening and in the evening, I email a mentor every night after that and tell him how my day went as well. I really encourage everyone else to get such a mentor. It really helps keep you accountable and helps to know that someone cares about you enough to hear you talk about every day.

I also regularly do what I call minute prayers. When I meet someone at work who is struggling with something, I offer up a quick prayer. When I am driving, if I hear sirens coming from somewhere, I also offer up a quick prayer. (Rest assured, no closing my eyes then.) If anything, I think minute prayers reflexively can be one of the best items because it really does show your constant dependence on God.

However, I also think in prayer, you have to be real. If I want to complain, I complain. Jeremiah did. Job did. The Psalmists did. It’s okay. It’s not like God doesn’t know in my heart that I’m upset and hurting over something. I might as well tell Him.

For instance, when I get in a state where I really want to have another woman in my life, which is incredibly often, I tell Him so. At earlier times when I was in the even worst pains of agony, I let Him know. God is said to be a counselor, but if you can’t share your deepest troubles with Him, you must not think He’s a real counselor.

Ultimately, I just think you should be real. This also includes with fellow Christians that you trust. Something I have been told about my writings on divorce either here are on Facebook is that people appreciate that I am candid about what is going on. I have no wish to present myself as a spiritual giant to you. I don’t see myself as one anyway.

All of us have problems and struggles in life. If someone acts like they don’t, they’re not fooling me and I suspect they’re not fooling you either. Let’s just be real.

And if talking to someone means you need to get a therapist, go for it. I have one and he’s a great guy and we talk weekly. I’m also working on my health insurance and going to see a psychiatrist at least for the time being. No shame in that either. It’s actually okay to be a Christian and need help.

I hope these basic tips help you. After all, if you are on this walk, you need all the help you can get. Stay strong, fellow travelers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness Month: Prayer

How do you talk to God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the difficult things for a Christian on the spectrum like myself in Christianity is prayer. I can understand evangelism. I can grasp hard doctrines like the Trinity and other such ideas. I can understand Bible study and giving to those in need.

Prayer is something that I find much more of a struggle.

Now why would that be? Picture that if you’re on the spectrum, when you’re talking to someone right in front of you, that can be difficult enough. This is someone in front of you who is actively sending social cues to you and actively responding at times. Your mind is trying to study everything and know what they are telling you and trying to understand any cues that you may be missing.

Now carry this over to prayer. When you pray, you are talking to someone who you cannot see and you’re not talking to just another person, but you’re talking to a divine person. You don’t want to treat them casually just like any other person, but you don’t want to go in acting all high and holy entirely because that can just seem fake and like you’re putting on a show.

How long do you pray? People can often talk about prayer for a long time being a struggle, but then we read about saints in the past who spend hours praying. I think of Martin Luther who said tomorrow, he would be extra busy and he would have to spend an extra hour in prayer. For someone like myself, I don’t understand being able to spend hours in prayer let alone one hour.

I understand all the formulas for prayer which are often problematic for me because they make it, well, formulaic. It can seem like you’re just going through the motions. Again, I struggle here.

Going to length, minute prayers as I call them I can sometimes understand. When I am driving and I hear sirens from a first responder going by, I say a minute prayer as I drive that all will work out well. Naturally, I don’t close my eyes or kneel down for that. I can see that as making sense, but I don’t understand the long time spent in prayer. What are the rules? How long do you go? How short is too short? How long is too long?

It’s interesting that when we look at the Lord’s Prayer, it is actually a short prayer. You can say it in under a minute. This we see in Scripture, but we also look at Scripture and see again, hours of prayer.

So keep this in mind when talking to someone on the spectrum. If normal persons are hard to relate to, divine persons can be so much harder. Give some guidance on this to your friend on the spectrum and help them out. It will be something difficult for them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What Does God Want?

What does God want of us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m not a prayer warrior. Some of you might think with my being in Christian ministry, I spend a lot of time in prayer and it comes naturally for me. No. It doesn’t. I do have an attitude of it throughout the day asking God about events in my life, but to go somewhere and focus for a long time in prayer is difficult.

After one such time recently, I found myself thinking that so many times, I come to God and I have the list of all the things that I want. What does God want from me when I pray? I don’t know if I had ever thought about that before, but I decided to ponder it.

I have really only come to one conclusion. God wants us to love Him. It might sound simplistic, but there’s a profundity to it I think. It’s easy to come to God when you think about what you want instead of just coming to Him for who He is.

Sometimes skeptics often ask “If God wants me, why doesn’t He just appear to me immediately? Why doesn’t He make Himself known?” He could do that if He wanted to, but maybe that doesn’t give the true results desired. That treats God like He’s just a trivia question instead of the person saying “No. If God exists, I really want to know it. I really want to know Him.”

There are some skeptics who have said that even if they were shown that God existed, they wouldn’t worship Him. With such people, there’s definitely no reason for God to reveal Himself. God does promise though that if someone is genuinely seeking, they will genuinely find.

Sometimes with this kind of thing I think about the Little Mermaid. Remember in that movie Ariel has to without her voice get the man to kiss her? Now in reality, the best way she could do that is to have removed that wrapping she had around herself immediately when she saw him and odds are she would have got a kiss immediately, but it would not have been a kiss of love. It would have been one of lust. Instead, she had to work and spend the time with him to really try to get that kiss.

In the same way, if God shows up in all His glory, you’re really not going to have much of a say in the matter. The ones who will get to see the glory of God are the ones who have put forward the work to relate to Him first and find Him first. Those who are coming to Him only wanting just the benefits, which does include Heaven, are the ones who don’t really want Him. This is one reason I find that when we talk about life in Heaven, God is usually treated like an afterthought.

“Oh yeah! You get to live in a mansion! The streets are gold! You live forever! There’s no pain or sickness or death! All your dead loved ones are there waiting for you! Oh, one more thing. There’s this guy called God there if you care about that.”

We wouldn’t come out and say that, and I’m not saying I believe in a literalistic description of Heaven, but that is the way it usually is treated. Most of us don’t think about God when we think about Heaven. We think about what benefits us. The purpose of getting someone to be a Christian is usually, “Well you want to go to Heaven, don’t you?”

It’s really using God.

So now, when I have come in prayer, I have tried to make statements of love and sometimes, I may not feel them or think I mean them, but I try to say them anyway. What if God wants to be loved for Himself, which is really what we all want?

The Jews have a song sang at Passover called Dayenu where it lists step by step the blessings God brought to His people at the Exodus and for each step it is said “And if you had just done XYZ, dayenu, it would have been enough.” Then they go one step further everytime adding in dayenu.

What God has already done for us, well dayenu. He has done more than enough for us. Everything else is a gift. If we do not come to Him as He is appreciating what we have already, we are guilty of ingratitude to God and using Him. We all have many gifts in life and none of us are debts owed to us. It is all a gift.

Maybe it’s time to express some love back.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Time and Despondency

What do I think of Nicole Roccas’s book published by Ancient Faith Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes when I have been struggling with something, I will talk to my wife’s priest. While I am not Orthodox, that is not a problem with us as he’s more than happy to help me with things. I also think wisdom can be found outside of one’s own tradition (And even religion) and if we as Christians ever think it’s only people of our theological heritage that have true wisdom worth gaining, that is a very sad state.

Right now with some present circumstances, I have been in normally a state of seasonal depression. When I mentioned the word depression to him, he turned it into despondency. At that moment, I remembered I ordered for my wife who is a catechumen in the Orthodox Church the book Time and Despondency. I decided to get it out and give it a try.

Let’s start with one excellent thing about this book. The author does not come out as someone high and holy and thus you read the book and think “I will never reach this level.” Nope. Roccas is a fellow traveler on the journey and she too would prefer at times to do something like binge watch Netflix.

She definitely writes from an Orthodox perspective, but that does not overwhelm the book so much that others won’t benefit. As a Protestant, I found much of the advice helpful. The advice of great saints is found as there is wisdom to be found in many places.

She also writes of goals that are doable. She never tells you to go and pray for an hour or so. Instead, just work on matters bit by bit and learn and grow in them. There’s even a place advocating quick prayers. Those are fine many times. When I am out in public and I hear sirens and see a first responder going by, I always pray for that situation. (Definitely not with eyes closed if driving.)

Her advice to deal with despondency is also not just purely spiritual matters. She talks about St. Antony who was scolded by someone for playing with his fellow monks when surely he should have been praying and how Antony responded to justify his actions. She talks about the use of humor, which at this point, I couldn’t help but think of Harry Potter and the spell to deal with boggarts.

For those who don’t know, boggarts are creatures that take on the image of your worst fear. The way to deal with them is to use a spell with the word “Ridiculous!” and turn them into something you can laugh at. I think Rowling at this point hit on something with the nature of fear.

Roccas also shows that this is a problem that is not just modern in nature. Monks from well over a thousand years ago dealt with this. They had times they didn’t want to pray either or work on the Scriptures. Apparently, some could have even committed suicide from sorrow. It was even called the noonday demon. The condition is the same, but today we probably have more means to encounter it.

There is also definitely good theology in here. Roccas brings out the reality of the resurrection and what it means. God being the God of all time is there to redeem every moment of time, including the moment that we are in. Again, just like before, none of this though is spoken in terminology that is over the layman’s head.

If you’re struggling with depression, or despondency if you prefer, this is a really good book to read. The advice is practical and doable and not over your head. Most of the chapters are short enough to read in one sitting and even the longest one can be broken down into manageable pieces. Give it a try. It beats living in despondency after all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Your Will Be Done

What does it mean to do God’s will? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So many Christians today want to find God’s will for their lives.

Should I get married? Who should I marry? What job should I take? Should I go to college and if so, what should I major in? So many decisions are about finding the will of God.

Is this what the Bible means when it speaks about the will of God?

No. This is a highly personalized idea. Let’s consider the first one about marriage. Assuming marriage is even for you, the Bible in a book like Proverbs lays out criteria. Since one should marry in the Lord, a Christian should marry a Christian. When speaking of a wife, the book mentions the kinds of qualities to look for. Don’t marry a nagging wife is one example. Marry a woman who fears the Lord. (Or a man if you are a woman)

Somehow, we got this strange idea that when we got to the New Testament, God decided to jettison wisdom and was going to tell us all what to do and we needed to find a way to get these secret messages from God. We are to look for clues, often ones that reside in our feelings and emotions, and from there try to determine what God is telling us. Scripture may be used, but apparently, it’s not as reliable as those feelings and emotions.

As you can imagine, I think this is a bunch of bunk. I see nothing in Scripture about it and it only showed up in our time of individualism. This kind of thinking really makes us very self-centered Christians.

Not only that, if God has a specific will for our lives like that, we’ve already screwed it up definitely. Also, if any one other person has screwed up their lives, they’ve ultimately done it for everyone. If you are to marry one specific person, then that means that if you marry the wrong one, both of your intended spouses have to marry the wrong one and then all their intended spouses have to marry the wrong one and on and on it goes.

It also causes the wrong focus. What we should be looking at the most is what kind of spouse we are going to be. What kind of employee are we going to be? What kind of student are we going to be?

“But how will I know what God wants for my life?”

It’s very easy. I can tell you definitely what God’s will is for your life and I have no hesitation in doing so. God’s will is to conform you to the likeness of Christ. The best thing to do when examining an action and if you should do it is to ask if it will conform you to the likeness of Christ.

When we pray for God’s will to be done, we are not praying that we will find some specific individualized will, or at least we shouldn’t pray that. We are praying that God will make the universe the way He wants it to be. How He wants us to be is to be conformed to the image of Christ. He wants us to be like Jesus.

You have plenty on that in Scripture.

Go try following that instead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Who Are In Heaven

What difference does it make where God is? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we pray, we pray to our Father in Heaven. What difference does that make? What is Jesus wanting us to think about when we say that we pray to our Father who is in Heaven?

Let’s start with the dangerous extreme. That would be Islam. Most sects of Islam have a version of deity that is so extreme that God is totally transcendent. The thought of Him interacting in a way such as in the incarnation is repugnant.

This is something we experience when God seems distant in our lives. Consider the idea of the saying that, “If you feel far from God, who moved?” It sure wasn’t God after all. That message could have been brought by one of Job’s friends to “counsel” him.

Of course, in suffering there is nothing wrong with examining our lives and seeing if there is anything we need to repent of. That’s something that we should be doing regardless. The point here is that our emotional experiences are not indicators of where we are in our Christian walk and too often, we make them just that.

So if that’s not what is meant, what is meant? Why not think that Jesus is trying to remind us who is in charge of this story? Heaven is the base of operations. It is where God reigns from. To pray to God is to remind yourself that He is in charge and He rules.

This is something we easily forget. Too many people think that if God is ruling right now, why is there so much evil and suffering? As we go through Matthew and look more at eschatology, we will see that that is issued directly. This is also a mistake Jewish readers often go with thinking that if the Messiah came, then shouldn’t there be love and world peace throughout the Earth as a result?

No. If anything, in Scripture we see just the opposite promised. YHWH says in Psalms 110:1 that the Messiah is to sit at His right hand while His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. The Messiah will have enemies during His reign and it will take time for them to be made a footstool.

Today, saying our Father in Heaven is meant to be a source of comfort. Whatever is going on, God is in charge. That He asks us to pray to Him tells us that He is not distant. He really cares about us. Not only that, we have the incarnation where the Son dwelt among us. God in human flesh walked around us and one day we will be with Him forever.

When you pray, pray to your Father who is in Heaven. He does hear. He does care. He will respond.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father

What does the start of the Lord’s Prayer mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve blogged before on the Lord’s prayer and it’s always interesting. Going through the Sermon on the Mount, this one cannot be missed. So let’s take another in-depth look at the Lord’s prayer.

Jesus starts off by telling us how we should pray. The prayer starts off with an address. The proper recipient is our Father. Okay. That sounds pretty basic. You start the prayer and you are talking to God.

Sounds basic, but it really isn’t.

Notice that Jesus at the start immediately assumes a communal activity. His followers were to come together and pray to God together. This is not to say that individual prayer can never happen. It is most certainly can. It is to say that Christianity is not meant to be experienced as an individual event.

Too often we have what is today Lone Ranger Christianity. Me and Jesus can just figure everything out today. I always go back to this story. It was a lady in a small group I was in once who said “I’m saved. My children are saved. Just sit back and wait for Jesus to come.” What an awful thought! How do you know your children will stay in the faith? What about other people and their children?

The community aspect is one thing, but there’s more. The community is to address God as Father. This is not some out there and distant deity. This is one who asks us to approach Him as if He is a parent. Jesus regularly makes this kind of analogy in the sermon and elsewhere.

This is also why Hebrews tells us to boldly approach the throne of grace. If you are the son or the daughter of the king, you ought not be afraid to approach the king. You belong there. You have been invited. You are a child of the king. Live like one.

Epictetus was a pagan philosopher who lived not too long after Christ. In his Golden Sayings, I find saying IX impressive. Change the language to a Christian language and see how it applies.

“If a man could be thoroughly penetrated, as he ought, with this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself. Whereas if Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in our birth these two things are commingled–the body which we share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then every one must deal with each thing according to the view which he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?–A wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine. Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?

How much better could we see ourselves if we realized that we are adopted into the family. Remember Mephibosheth in the Old Testament? He was invited to feast at the King’s table, something the account says three times. Augustus Caesar was the most powerful man on Earth at one time, and got that way by adoption.

When we pray our Father, we are to realize that we are adopted into a royal family and we have that privilege. It is not just us individually, but us as a community. We all have the Father together and we can all come together as His children.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Not To Pray

What are some things to avoid in prayer? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes, I hate public prayer at a church service. I say this as someone who has to do it as well. You never really feel genuine doing it. You know people are watching you to see what you have to say. It’s awkard.

Then there are the people who do these public prayers and they go on and on and on. You can say they’re real men of Jesus, but most of us just find them annoying. I find it interesting that the Lord’s prayer can really be said in under a minute. When the closing prayer starts to go longer than the sermon itself, we have a problem.

Jesus had a few statements about things like this. He never said to not pray in public as He sometimes did this as well, but He did say to watch your motives again. Some people do make a show of public prayers. They pray showing off their eloquence and their devotion to God, which if that is what you’re doing, we can call your devotion into question. Let’s look at verses 5-8 of Matthew 6.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

One of the rules for giving a sermon is to KISS. It has two meanings. “Keep it simple, stupid” and “Keep it short, stupid.” Prayer is done to talk to God. It’s not done to show others how awesome you are.

This is why also your devotion is not meant to be measured necessarily by how long you pray. I know some people who are true prayer warriors and they can pray for a long time. I’m not one of them. I know I need to work on that. Those like me need to start simple as well. Don’t say you’re going to build up prayer and then say you’re going to start with an hour a day. You’ll burn out and give up. If anything, start small. Maybe 3-5 minutes even.

Jesus also tells us our Father knows what we need before we ask. If so, why do we ask? We ask not to make something known, but to show that we are realizing our trust and dependence.

One of the problems I have with many prayer studies is they treat prayer as if the only goal is to get something. It also treats God as if He is obligated to answer a prayer. Many of us were devoutly praying for the healing of Nabeel Qureshi. It never came. Does that prove God doesn’t exist or that God doesn’t or didn’t love Nabeel? Not at all. It just shows for whatever reason we don’t understand, God chose not to heal.

It’s also too easy for prayer to become just a wish list. There’s not enough time spent in thanksgiving and adoration. I remember J.P. Moreland once saying he thinks in a worship service, the music should come after the sermon. Why? Because then we have heard the Scripture and the good news and we are giving thanks and celebrating about what we have heard.

Yet keep in mind, Jesus still points us to the reward. Our true reward is from our Father in heaven. It’s not in the praise and adoration of men. It’s in the approval of our Father. That is the praise we are to have.

Prayer is something important and we need to work on it, but one of the first things to do is to learn what not to do.

Let’s try to get it right.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Praying in the Presence of our Lord with St.Thomas Aquinas.

What do I think of Mike Aquilina’s book published by Lambing Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife got me this book as a gift knowing that I am looking to improve my prayer life and that I’m a big fan of Thomas Aquinas. At the start, this is a book by a Catholic for a Catholic. I am not faulting that at all. Protestants write for Protestants normally, Orthodox for Orthodox, Atheists for atheists, Muslims for Muslims, etc. Naturally, they all write books at times to try to convince others, but books that are more devotional will be more likely to be non-argumentative.

So if you’re a Protestant reading this, no, you likely will not agree with the views of the Eucharist and Mary, but that’s okay. It is quite foolish to say whichever camp you belong to that you cannot learn from the others. Aquinas is definitely someone we can all learn from and not just in his intellectual mind, but in his devotional mind.

Aquilina goes through some of the prayers of Aquinas and breaks them down bit by bit and has a devotional entry on each of them. This could then be a good daily devotional to be read just to have something to meditate on. At the same time, someone could go straight through, like I did, and get some good material out of it.

Reading through also gives the reader something to shoot for. Aquinas was in his day from my understanding a loner and standout from the crowd, but his passion is something not talked about often. Aquilina tells us that when Aquinas had a hard problem, he would go and lean his head on the altar and rest it there hoping to receive solace.

God wasn’t just an intellectual pursuit for Aquinas, although there was certainly a lot of that in his life. God was a being, a personal being, to be desired for His own sake. It is easy to go to God to thank Him for what He has done, which we should, and to make our requests known to Him, which we should do, but too often we do not come to Him for who He is.

Aquilina tells us that adoration is something that should be reserved for God alone. Of course, there’s always the chance that words change meanings and what we mean by adore isn’t the same thing as was meant back then. The attitude would still need to be the same and that would be that only God deserves the highest place. Any Christian knows that sadly, that can be a struggle at times.

So if you want to improve your prayer life and use Aquinas as a model, this is a good one. Areas of disagreement for Protestants do not have to be the focus. Catholics and Orthodox are more likely to enjoy those elements of the work, but we could all bear to improve our prayer life. Aquinas is a great model for that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

It’s Not Your Fault

What is the cause of your suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I are part of a group for Christians with Borderline Personality Disorder on Facebook. She has the condition. I don’t, but I am in there to be supportive. Yesterday, I saw a post by someone saying that they were being condemned by their church for having Borderline. They were supposedly making their Borderline an idol and they don’t have enough faith and they need to pray and read Scripture more and similar things. Naturally, if they truly had faith also, they would be healed.

Let’s be clear with some things at the start. We could all bear to pray more and read the Bible more. It also doesn’t hurt to examine ourselves and look for sinfulness in our own lives to work on.

Also, there are times where suffering is your own fault. If you drink alcohol and get in an accident because you were driving drunk, that is your fault. If you smoke all your life and get lung cancer, that is your fault. If you overeat and suffer the effects of obesity, that is your fault.

Yet some things you are born with or born with a predisposition to that are not your fault. A mental illness can be one of those things. While I am sure this is sometimes said to people with diabetes or people in wheelchairs, I am sure it is less often than it is for cases of mental illness, something the church just doesn’t really deal well with.

Mental illness has a stigma around it such that it is even thought to be connected with demonic activity. I do not doubt demons can influence us, but they cannot possess and control us and it’s too easy to blame our problems on a demon instead of realizing it could be something with us. If you have a mental illness, that is not your fault. What you do with the condition is your fault. I have Aspergers. I cannot control that. It is hard to look someone in the eye when I am talking to them, but that is something that I must actively work on.

In the same way, people with Borderline have powerful emotions that seem gripping and controlling. Can they be controlled? Yes. Is that easy? No. It can often require a combination of medication and therapy. It’s the same way with a phobia. One doesn’t just sit down and will through a phobia naturally. It takes concentrated work and effort to overcome it. I am terrified of water and when I get in a swimming pool, it takes a concentrated effort to move where I need to move. It is not bulldozed over.

The church doesn’t help with this when the church demands instant cures. Now, can an instant cure happen? Sure. God can do it if He wants to. I know people who come to Jesus who have addictions like alcohol and drugs and when they convert, they lose their addictions. That can happen. Sometimes, it does not happen. It is foolish and cruel to say the reason someone is suffering is that they don’t have enough faith.

It’s also just bad theology. Sometimes we do suffer for our own sins, as I said. Sometimes we suffer for the sins of others. Sometimes we suffer because this is a fallen world. It is a foolish person who thinks without divine revelation that he can tell you why a certain kind of suffering is taking place like that. We must be very careful whenever we make any sort of claim to speak for God.

What the sufferers often need most is not someone to fix their problems. We should have people who are ready to be good therapists and counselors and work with them, but if you’re not that, don’t try to be one. Here’s something you can be. You can be a listener. You can be a friend.

Try this for the person with mental illness that you know. Pick up a phone and call them. Send them a message on Facebook. Go to their place and visit them. Take them out to eat sometime. Show the other person you’re glad to have them around. Do not do anything to them that indicates that they are a bother. If you think having to deal with someone like that is a bother, it speaks more about you than it does about them.

Many people like this can struggle with thoughts of depression and suicide. How does it help someone like that to pile on to them? Don’t also tell them they’re being selfish or self-centered. In the moment, that is not helpful to them. It only gives them more reason to be depressed and/or suicidal.

Overall, be Jesus to these people. Jesus never turned away people who were truly suffering and in need. He always had the greatest of love for sinners. The people who thought they were alright were the people He had the most problems with. If people don’t think Jesus will accept them, maybe it’s because they’ve met too many people who claim to represent Jesus who haven’t.

I look forward to the day when the church treats mental illness in much the same way they treat physical illness. Of course, some churches are still horrible there, but I think it often gets worse for mental illness. Come alongside those who are suffering. Be a friend and confidant and really listen to them. If you reach out to someone you know with a condition, you never know how much hope that might give them.

You’ll truly be being Jesus to them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters