David Weiss was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the spring of 2005. He wrote a piece for Christianity Today that is both heartbreaking and inspiring.
I can relate to David encountering God through his pain and suffering. But there was an experience he described of his Christian community blaming him for his condition that brought back a similar experience that I encountered.
When I was first diagnosed with MS a well meaning person gave me a book that claimed that all illness is due to a defect in character and sin. I threw it in the trash and never told anyone about the book.
Of course, whether we suffer alone or with others, the question “Why?” will never be answered, at least in this lifetime. Who knows why God allows pain? Who knows why God sometimes seems to leave us alone? People have asked these questions since they first puzzled over the causes of lightning and rain. Bad things just happen, we say, and it isn’t anybody’s fault. There’s no rhyme or reason. But even when we cannot grasp the sources of our misfortunes, we can strive to learn the right lessons.
The most important lesson I have learned from my pain is about compassion. I was once one of the Bible bangers who knew everything and needed nothing. Not anymore. If God isn’t up there in heaven watching and waiting for me to screw up—if instead he weeps when I weep and celebrates when I take just one step toward a new and better life—then who am I to judge others harshly?
When my psychiatrist asked me why I still believed in God, I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t. I still don’t know if the treatment was worth the pain. I have a multitude of problems, not all of them related to mental illness. I am not a prophet who has received great enlightenment. But I do have some hard-fought wisdom to impart.
Though my illness persists, I have finally met the God I had heard about but never truly experienced. A God who heals. A God who loves. A God I cannot logically explain to my psychiatrist. A God who manifests his genius by salvaging good from the evil in our lives. Someone unlike me. Someone unlike the well-meaning inquisitors who judged me and sought to spiritually cure me. Someone I never would have discovered without my affliction.
A God who calls himself Emmanuel—God with us.
Do Read the whole article here. It is worth your time.