Tag Archive | faith

“Not again!”

active.shooter

There’s been another mass shooting. Since it happened, people are uttering the taboo phrase, mental illness (MI), out loud. Not in whispers. Spoken loudly, as if rendering a death sentence. Some proclaim, “Mental illness is what caused the shooter to kill nine people and wound nine others in Oregon.”

Let me start by emphasizing an important point: Not everyone with MI commits such crimes. Many function well and lead typical lives. Read my message ‘Not all become shooters.’

One of the survivors of the recent tragedy in Oregon, Anastasia Boylan, reported that the gunman ordered the students to stand up if they were Christians.

Can we stand firm in our faith, while facing MI?

Those college students in Oregon, who stood firm in their faith, offer us a symbol of how to live. In the face of MI, moms raising kids with MI can stand firm in their faith. Paul told the believers in Thessalonica how to survive troubling days ahead. He encouraged them to, “Stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Our faith in Christ need not be shaken. Because the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So, we remain firm in our belief that He is faithful. We’ve learned that His promises are true. We’ve experienced His power, provision, and protection. He has guided and comforted us. His Word reminds us daily of the hope and peace we find in Him.

Responses to this recent tragedy:

The mass shooting in Oregon has been added to the growing list of shootings in our nation. Indications are surfacing about the perpetrator’s troubled past. Even before learning about his past, most people concluded that he must have had some sort of MI. So, some say addressing MI would be what needs to be done.

The president is calling again for common sense gun control laws. Many agree that the solution to preventing further massacres would involve numerous measures.

Those of us raising kids with MI could weigh in with our own suggestions. Like how ‘bout educating everyone? There are behaviors which hint someone is about to unravel and explode. Everyone should learn about the signs which predict violence. Without insight into the problem, those warning signs go unnoticed. Loved ones often report, “He kept to himself. I never thought he’d do such a thing.” Soon after, investigators unearth clear signals.

I’ve never seen a show dedicated solely to shedding more light on the complexity of the problem. Such a show would help viewers understand the profile of a person who might snap. It would list the risk factors that might play a role in pushing a person to the brink of violence … a person who: has a history of MI, is marginalized and isolated, has been bullied, has anger issues, has abused substances, has suicidal tendencies, own guns, and/or posts rants and concerning pictures on social media sites.

It would be helpful for people to learn what a person does and doesn’t do prior to unleashing carnage. Such a documentary would help viewers understand the difference between typical behavior and abnormal patterns of behavior. It would include a focus on the role of social media postings which should alert those who read them. Then, it would equip concerned citizens with action they could take to get help for the troubled person (by helping them know who to contact).

October—A Month of Awareness:

Elevating awareness would be a good start. Prior to this last incident of mass murders, October was already an important month. Mental Illness Awareness Week is October  4-10, 2015. October is also National Bully Prevention Month

I’m grateful for organizations like National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). According to their website, NAMI  has a “network of NAMI members and friends dedicated to promoting caring faith communities and promoting the role of faith in recovery for individuals and families affected by mental illness.” During this Mental Illness Awareness Week, check out Faithnet’s resources and information by clicking on the link below:

National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding

 It’s interesting that October is also National Bully Prevention Month. Sadly, as in my own son’s case, constant bullying can contribute to mental illness (MI).

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Pain

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Want some free pain management advice?

Pain. Yours or your child’s is difficult to deal with. Emotional pain can be even more debilitating than physical soreness. We’d pay anything for relief.

There’s someone who knows a thing or two about pain. Paul in the Bible experienced pain and learned how to handle it. Pretend you’re having a conversation with Paul. Here’s how the interview might go:

Do you ever feel hopeless?

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”  2 Corinthians 4:7-11

I DO feel in despair. That’s easy for you to say that you can show God’s power. You don’t know what I’m facing.

“I have…been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”  2 Corinthians 11:23-28

Why didn’t you ever ask God to spare you from any suffering?

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-10

You’re saying you delight in weakness. Are you kidding? Why would you say such a thing? How can you possibly say you delight in weakness?

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I HAVE LEARNED to be content whatever the circumstances… I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11, 13

I still get so discouraged when my emotional pain is so great, or when my child’s mental illness prevents him from doing the things he used to do.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”  2 Corinthians 4:16

I still don’t understand how you can have such a positive outlook when you’ve experienced so much suffering. What’s your secret?

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:18

My pain is so severe that some days I don’t think I can endure life any more. I don’t think I could focus on anything other than my pain. I’m not like you.

Others had tough times. Job lost his business and children all in one day he “got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’”  Job 1:20-21

I still need help to think of God’s power instead of my suffering.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

It helps to remember that Jesus suffered worse pain for me. Many people don’t know how much pain I secretly endure. But, He understands my suffering. I’m comforted knowing He will perfect my faith. He knows I need greater faith. He’ll help me keep my focus on Him. Is that right?

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What would you like to ask Paul?

 Steve Green sings about that great cloud of witnesses in his song: “Find Us Faithful.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi-Mn5tRHvM