ODJ: Mercy on Our Minds

March 1, 2018 

READ: Matthew 25:31-46 

I was sick, and you cared for me (v.36).

Years ago, a family member who suffers from bipolar disorder had an extreme psychotic break. The manic episode led to job loss, jail time and homelessness. For two months I was on the phone with social workers, law enforcement officers, friends and family members, trying to figure out how to help him. I even contacted my family member’s church. But no one there could direct me tohelpful resources.

By God’s grace, today my family member is doing well. But those days were some of the most difficult of my life.

Most people in the church aren’t trained medical and mental health professionals, so they’re often unsure how to help the mentally ill. What I’ve come to learn is that helping begins with love and compassion. Matthew 14:14 tells us that Jesus had compassion on the hurting people in the crowd. He healed the sick. In fact, the Gospels continually display Jesus’ care for all kinds of sick people. He didn’t run from the ill or give up on them. He didn’t ignore them or shame them for their diseases. Instead, Jesus had personal interaction with them. He moved towards them (Matthew 14:13-14, 20:29-32). By His strength, so can we.

One way in which we can show love to our brothers and sisters who suffer from mental illness is with a kind and caring posture. Our eyes, the tone of our voice and our nonverbal communication can reveal either contempt or compassion.

Another way in which we display love and compassion is by being aware of both the needs of those who are mentally ill and what’s available to help. Showing God’s compassion and directing those who are sick to helpful resources are a few ways in which we can care for the sick—and in this way serve Jesus Himself (v.36).

—Marlena Graves

365-day plan: Joshua 3:1-17

Read the expressions of deep pain in Psalm 42:3-5,11 and consider how you can support those with mental illness who may feel this way. 
Even devout believers in Jesus suffer from depression and other forms of mental illnesses. Is that hard to grasp? Why or why not? How do you think Jesus would care for the people with mental illness in your life?