Yesterday evening, Janet and I attended a prayer gathering in the town of Fishers – right next door to where we live in Carmel, IN. We were anxious to learn more about the issues the town is addressing; namely, mental illness – and the city leaders have invited the faith-based community to be a part of the solution. That in and of itself is unusual these days – the union of church and city government.
The mayor of Fishers went on to let us know that when he grew up in North Dakota, spiritual leaders were the main point of contact when families needed advise and help as there were no counselors or professionals who could help deal with the mental issues of life. And the Fishers campus of our church, Grace Church, has been asked to be the point of the spear in this initiative for the town.
Apparently, there has been work done behind the scenes during the last year. We were blown away when the statistics surrounding the need for mental health assistance were revealed to us. In a city that has only experienced 3 homicides in the past 20 years, 11 people took their own lives last year – with more than 40 failed suicide attempts on top of the numbers. I am sure that with the pressures of today, those numbers aren’t uncommon – especially in affluent areas where people are so concerned about appearances and the “need” to appear successful.
Mental illness isn’t a new thing – 0r something to be ashamed of. The Bible is full of examples of people who had mental illness or who were struggling with issues of mental acuity. There were many stories of Jesus curing those who were not well – not only in physical distress but mentally as well. Today, many folks suffer from anxiety and depression. Those problems are becoming more commonplace each year – especially in our younger folks.
So, it is possible that our Fishers campus has found its calling in the community; to lead the charge in promoting mental health in one of the premier towns in the country to live in. Janet and I were privileged to be a part of this initial public meeting and prayer gathering. In addition to singing worship songs, increasing awareness of the core problem and praying for those providers and sufferers of mental illness, the community is starting the action steps necessary to provide help to those in need. We were impressed with the mayor and his humble spirit when addressing the fundamental issues of living in a healthy town.
It is important to realize that we can’t achieve mental health in our own power. It takes a great faith and reliance on Jesus, and sometimes the help of professionals, to get us over the hurdle. By the way, even Jesus suffered from grief and sorrow throughout His ministry so we can deduce that none of us is immune from episodes of anxiety or depression or extreme sadness.
The initial step to health is to pray for those in the community who need our help. Our verse for the evening is a well known one from Matthew 22:37, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” By focusing on Jesus and turning our problems over to Him, we increase the chances of staying healthy. My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants to help us with our burdens, no matter how heavy they are. My prayer is that if you feel overwhelmed, you will reach out to others for help. After all, we are a community of believers and that means we are one body with many parts – designed to work together and help each other when our burdens are too heavy to carry alone. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…