What picture could represent desperation? What image would fully convey helplessness and hopelessness? Is it possible to depict an extreme situation that is intolerable, unbearable, shocking, and dangerous?
Rather than capture the essence of dreary desperation in a portrait, I prefer to focus on beautiful desperation: my desperation to know more of God’s love. Yet how could I ever describe His love when I haven’t come close to grasping the depths of it? The more I seek it, the greater I understand it. A right focus is the key.
Perspective is everything in dealing with life that includes mental illness (MI). Those of us raising a child with MI have a choice. We can choose to maintain an earthly perspective of the challenges we face. By contemplating all the problems, and striving to find solutions. Or we can shift our focus heavenward to gain a divine view. To seek God’s wisdom and path.
Each fall I used to explain multiple sclerosis (MS) to my second graders. I was grateful God had given me a message to share with my students. My MS gave me a lesson no teacher’s manual included. I could show them how to face trials in life. Perspective is everything.
“When you face hard or sad times, you have a choice,” I’d tell them. “You can either focus on the problem or on the Truth. The Truth is that God’s in control. He is greater than any problem you face. He has a perfect plan for your life and He’s faithful to fulfill all his promises: to comfort, help, and guide.”
“Does it hurt to have MS?” they’d ask.
“Sure it stinks to have MS,” I’d answer honestly. “But that doesn’t change who God is. I know He loves me. God’s love is perfect, present, and endless. We may not understand it or always feel His love. But we can be sure of it.”
The lesson ended with one of their favorite songs, ‘Jesus Loves Me.’
“Sing the song slowly so you can think about each word,” I’d instruct them.
I often need a personal review of that lesson. MI trials can blindfold my spiritual eyes at times. Making it hard to see God in the situation. But those situations in life don’t change who He is: a loving Father who is still on the throne. Keeping a watchful eye, with His constant love. So, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).”
Even MI can’t separate us from God’s love.
It seems impossible to describe God’s love. But there’s one picture that captures the heart of a Father. It’s a painting of His Son dying on the cross for us.
I’m desperate to fully understand God’s love. Is that possible? Or is it like trying to hold water between our fingers?
Ephesians tells us Christ’s love surpasses knowledge.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).”
I may not come close to knowing the full measure of God’s love for me. But I’m certain that keeping my eyes on Him will help me through the challenges that accompany MI. I need Him to guide my responses.
Years ago I held a critical position that forced me to keep a correct focus. As a school administrator, serious problems came to my attention every day. If I didn’t handle them carefully, they could blow up in my face. If I reacted poorly, I could enflame the situation or spark a conversation malfunction (AKA: an argument). So my daily prayer each morning was:
Guide and direct my thoughts, words, actions, and emotions. Give me Your perspective on situations and people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
He faithfully answered that prayer and gave me His wisdom. Guiding me to His solution for every problem. So I’m sure that if I want to know more of His love, all I need to do is ask Him to reveal it.
As a mom raising a son with mental illness (MI) I’m desperate to know more of His love—for me and for Chris. Hillsong’s ‘The Greatness of our God’ echoes my prayer: to increase my understanding of His love and calm my fears. Here are some of my favorite words in that song:
Give me grace to see
Beyond this moment here.
To believe that there
Is nothing left to fear.
That You alone are high above it all.
For You my God, are greater still.
There is nothing that can ever
Separate us from Your love.
No life, no death, of this I am convinced.
You my God, are greater still.
Be blessed as you listen to that song: