I saw her just as I was going to cross the road. She has seen me already as she was walking along the other side, machete in hand, her mouth spurting violent threats and profanity. I cannot go back now, otherwise I will catch her attention, worse her ire. I was told it was not a permanent condition, that she suffers it in “spells”.
I have crossed the road and just stood on my spot, praying. “Lord, cover me with your blood; bind the spirits that are oppressing her. If she hacks me to pieces now, I place my spirit into Your hands.” Ok, do I now look away? It’s not natural, she will notice. I gave her a glance as she walked past me just to acknowledge her presence, and to my relief, she looked down, seemingly just about with her business of going somewhere, and a bit intimidated too, I thought. Thank you, Lord.
I come from a country where mental illness is a too-public sight due to poverty in the family and the government’s inability to provide facilities and affordable treatments (note: I do not have official figures, but when I say “too-public” sight it is because they usually end up homeless). If that is not enough to shock you, there is the occasional demonic possession too—a phenomenon that is visible only in the West through horror movies, or if there is a real one, would probably be automatically categorised as a mental health issue. But because the devil does his research too and knows how to work his way through the predominant culture, back home demon possession is distinct from mental illness. And as Christians, as we have been given God’s Spirit, we should even be more discerning than the local folks—to even recognise further who suffers from both, and who suffers from “merely” spiritual oppression.
There is still much sensitisation work to do in the developing world. People who are out of their minds are bullied and poked fun at. They are considered a nuisance in the community. But one of my earliest memories of compassion was while watching the “Jesus” film—the scene at the tombs in the region of the Gadarenes—and I thank the Lord for that privilege because that may be what first stirred feelings of compassion within me towards those who are downtrodden in spirit.
“When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’” – Matthew 8:16-17 (NIV)
What mercy! The Lord who heals our bodies is the same Lord who heals our minds and spirits! Let us lay at the feet of Jesus everything that burdens our minds, everything that makes our hearts ache.
“Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….’ Then he said the paralytic, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’ Then the man got up and went home.” – Matthew 9:4-7 (NIV)
Praise the Lord!
“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towards heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honoured and glorified him who lives for ever.” – Daniel 4:34 (NIV)