As I read through the book Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges by John Swinton, I come across parts that are emotionally difficult to deal with. They’re difficult because they make me angry.
One story in particular strikes me as cruel and callous because after some well-meaning people prayed for a woman with schizophrenia, and she wasn’t cured, they told her it was because of her deficient faith. How many of you can say that prayers made your health problems vanish into thin air? If so, count your blessings, but if not, how would you feel if someone told you you’re still sick because your faith is weak, or worse, attribute your entire life experience to demons?
Yet, many Christians are treated that way by fellow believers. They are told by ignorant people that their illness is caused by demons, unconfessed sin, or lack of faith, as if those believers know everything that’s going on inside another individual’s soul. I find that rather presumptuous and arrogant.
Pronouncing judgment in that way sounds a lot like Job’s friends who blathered on for thirty-odd chapters. Later, they had to offer sacrifices and Job had to pray for them that God would forgive them, because they had misrepresented Job by claiming that if all those things had happened to him it must be because he had committed some horrible sin that he refused to confess.
We still find this sort of discourse in the so-called Prosperity Gospel, even though both God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament have debunked it. But it seems that some Christians are slow to learn in that respect. You cannot use the spirit world to explain away everything you don’t understand in life. God’s creation is a lot more complex than that.