The Beatitudes & Mental Illness by David Lee Chu Sarchet
“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Matthew 5:2-11
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sermons preached by Jesus that were actually quite profound. He covered a variety of topics such as anger, divorce, reconciliation, and so much more. And when we think of the Sermon on the Mount we do not typically think about how it relates to mental illness.
The purpose of this blog is cause you to see the Beatitudes in a different light. I confess that while I am relating these blessings to the lives of the mentally ill, I am not saying anything about anyone’s salvation.
Salvation is through Christ by faith alone and nothing else counts towards salvation. However, when I read the Beatitudes, I cannot help but see my own experience and the experience of others in them. I will break down this collection of sayings one verse at a time and give my own thoughts on them:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Mental illness causes those of us who have it to be very humble. We fully know and are aware of our limitations. My Schizoaffective Disorder shows me that I am a weak and fragile human being and that causes me to look to Christ for my strength. There is no good thing in me and that in His grace is where true strength is found.
This is contrary to what our culture says because our culture tells us to rely on no one but ourselves. However, Christ tells us that if we rely on ourselves we will inevitably fail. Instead, we should rely on Him and Him alone. That is when we will truly succeed.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
In my darkest moments, all that I ever could do was mourn. When I lost my mother, all I wanted to do was cry. When I was stuck in a hospital bed for three months, all I wanted to do was cry. When I am stuck in psychiatric hospitals, all I ever want to do is cry out in frustration. I want to cry out to God and demand that He tell me why this is happening to me.
However, in those moments I realize that the Lord does not owe me an explanation but what He does choose to do instead is to remind me that it is all working out for my good. I may not fully understand how that is so but it does bring me comfort to realize that He is sovereign and in control and that nothing catches Him by surprise. Everything happens as He plans for His own purposes and glory.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Again, having a mental illness is a really humbling experience. It does suck having to rely on medication just to be able to function. But, I know that just like Paul had a “thorn in the flesh”, well my Schizoaffective Disorder is my thorn in the flesh because it causes me to rely on God’s grace for my life.
Every day God demonstrates His grace towards me and I know that I do not deserve it. If I deserved it then it would no longer be grace but a reward. However, the Bible talks about God granting his GRACE to wicked sinners because of what Jesus Christ has done on our behalf.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
I have a strong desire to see justice done when it comes to seeing how my fellow people with mental illness are being treated in the private sector and the public sector as well. Studies have shown that mentally ill people are treated horribly wrong in the correctional facilities all across America. We are also mistreated in homeless shelters and in the streets too. We get mistreated by our own families and even by those whom we thought were our friends. I would venture to say that the mentally ill are most likely the most marginalized group of people in the world.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.”
Mental Illness does cause us to be more merciful towards other people who are suffering. I believe this is the case because we understand what it is like to go through immense suffering. A friend and brother in Christ once told me, “People who do not struggle with mental illness will never understand what it is like for those of us who do struggle with mental illness” and that is true.
In order for someone to really be able to empathize with us they must have been able to walk in our shoes first. This is why people who deal with real mental illness do tend to be some of the most merciful people I know.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
This verse troubles me because I know my own heart and it is far from pure.
According to Dr. R.C Sproul, people see God through faith in Jesus. This makes sense because without a mediator we cannot see the Holy God. We are sinners and sin cannot be in His presence. So, we need look to Jesus and when we do that, then we will see God in all of His glory.
The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
As a Christian mental health advocate, I strive for peace between people who suffer with mental illness and those who do not. I do this because there is a lot of stigmatization surrounding mental illness because of people being ignorant.
My goal is to educate other Christians on mental illness so that the stigma in the Church will decrease. If the stigma can be eliminated then the Body of Christ will be free to truly show mentally ill people the love of Christ.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
All of my life I have dealt with the wrath of my peers who used to harass me because I was different from them. I am not a isolated case either. It is the common experience of other people who struggle with mental illness for us to be picked on. I think this is because it is human nature to naturally fear what we do not understand.
Generally speaking, people do not understand mental illness and thus they fear people who are mentally ill. This fear comes out in two different ways:
1) People will outright reject us or
2) People will harass or harm us.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
As I have already stated, mentally ill people tend to be some of the most marginalized and mistreated people in the world. I know I have dealt with people badmouthing me and trying to ruin my reputation because they just do not like nor do they understand me. I do admit that some of it is my fault because I can be difficult to deal with but it is not always the case.
Sometimes people just hate you for no reason. It is in those moments I have learned to rejoice because I rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.
I hope that this blog really opens your eyes to seeing the experience of those who struggle with mental illness. I do not expect you to full understand but maybe this blog will give you a glimpse into our experience.
Hopefully, the Lord will use this to change people’s attitudes towards mental illness and possibly show people who struggle with mental illness that they are not alone.
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Mental Health Advocate
For 24 hour peer support, please call the Christ-Centered Mental Health ministry line at 567-343-3727 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lydia Sarchet: email@example.com
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- Zachary Uram: Netrek@gmail.com
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- Roselyn Morgan (Christian Counselor): RoselynMorgan53@yahoo.com