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May 13, 2013

“I also learned that sick people are not necessarily weak. Sick people are just afflicted.”[1]

I have often heard that sick people are weak. Either they have weak genes, or they are spiritually weak. They don’t pray enough, or they are not mentally strong enough. These are hurtful, damaging things to say. They show a lack of compassion and can fracture relationship. It seems you hear these things more often with those who are mentally ill than when those are physically ill. That is even crueller. Even worse, they hear this from their fellow church members.

People do not seek to be ill. Have you ever met a person who says, “I am hoping to have cancer someday?” Why do we think differently with the mentally afflicted? They wish whatever they are afflicted with would just go away, that they could be “normal.” So, how can we help? What can we do to make things different for them?

This may be oversimplified, but we must ask, “How would Jesus handle this situation?” Without doubt, He would walk alongside the suffering. He would feel their pain, share in their suffering, and love them. As a church who is striving to become more like Jesus, we must learn to respond this way. We may not understand how they feel or what they are going through, but we understand love. Just love them as they are!

[1] Kathryn Greene-McCreight. Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006. 157

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