John Bertram Phillips was one of England's most respected pastors and theologians. He wrote books that helped thousands of believers keep the faith in times of great controversy. He translated the New Testament in a way that the sacred text came alive for readers throughout the English speaking world.
If anyone deserved total spiritual joy and well-being, it should have been this godly servant of Christ.
But he didn't.
This saintly man suffered deep mental anguish during most of his adult life.
This is how J. B. Philip's himself described it: "At night it was as if I was the picked target of the enemy. Irrational fears gripped my spirit, unreal guilt swept over me. Even my sense of God disappeared. I turned to God for help and he seemed remote and unapproachable."
After his death in 1982, his wife, Vera, wrote that even through times of deep depression, his ministry remained directed toward helping people in their struggles, encouraging them not to lose faith in God. He so well understood the many people who turned to him.
A 79-year old woman once wrote him, "Where is the dear Christ of experience with whom I have walked and talked through the years? What is all my bright faith, my sure knowledge; has it been an illusion?" Philips wrote this reply: "Do you imagine that Christ himself was not in agony of doubt both in Gethsemane and on the cross? So hold on, and keep the flag flying; the King is in residence."
And so, dear reader, who will understand the mental pain you may have had? Who can advise you? But your Savior Christ knows and understands. In his time and in his way he will visit your soul.
In the meantime we realize again that we are all members of the one family of faith. We need each other, especially in the area of inner well-being. In some small way, we can express that concern by responding to the lines above in writing.