A Devotional

The Christian Cure for Going Crazy

Michael Beck Michael Beck

Getting mad and madness are not too far removed from one another.

Kaye Redfield Jamison has written a best-selling book on her slow descent into madness called, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. Although she deemed herself a sane person at fifteen years old, she recounts her apprehensions of what she might become as she went on a group outing to a local mental hospital called St Elizabeths.

“I think we were afraid of the strangeness, the possible violence, and what it would be like to see someone completely out of control. ‘You’ll end up in St. Elizabeths’ was one of our childhood taunts, and, despite the fact I had no obvious reason to believe that I was anything else but passably sane, irrational fears began to poke away at my mind. I had a terrible temper, after all, and though it rarely erupted, when it did it frightened me and anyone near its epicenter. It was only a crack, but a disturbing one, in the otherwise vacuum-sealed casing of my behavior. God only knew what ran underneath the fierce self-discipline and emotional control that had come with my upbringing. But the cracks were there, I knew it, and they frightened me.”

Scripture tells us that madness lurks in the heart of every person.

“This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3)

The Christian cure for going crazy is not to stuff our natural feelings of anger somewhere deep inside us and hope for the best.

So many have similar feelings to the author above. They know how they feel. Even those who are in Christ register feelings on the anger scale that go from irritation to rage. Being a Christian will not automatically prevent you from getting mad or descending into madness. It is important that we understand what naturally causes anger and how God has given us a remedy for madness.

Naturally,

  • we don’t like those who get in our way
  • we don’t like those who don’t do what we think they should do
  • we don’t like those who judge us negatively

When we operate this way we spend our days in all manner of vexation and upsetment with others who do or have done such things to us.

Without learning the better way, we are all “unholy terrors.”

Each of the above three natural responses must be met with a commitment to worship God by giving Him power, honor and glory.

When we give God power we ascribe to Him power and trust that our lives and our times are in His hand.

We are more interested in fulfilling His pleasure than our pleasure. We do not rage against “roadblocks” in our life, but believe that God works all things together for good in the lives of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. We do not get beside ourselves because we are being prevented from racing toward our goals. All our future goals are nothing in comparison to God’s present goal that we would be like His Son Jesus. We do not get “bent out of shape” trying to understand the cause of delays in our life. We humble ourselves under the mighty hand of our God and allow Him to exalt us in due time. We are willing to “miss a light” in order to gain the fruit of meekness, temperance and peace. We give thanks and are content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, even ones that are unpleasant and far from where we would want to be. Our destination is God and if we are abiding in Him we are home and at rest.

When we give God honor we acknowledge that what He thinks is far superior to anything we come up with.

We realize that our assessment of anything must face God’s revision process before being “published.” We understand that if our minds are not informed by the Spirit of Christ we cannot and will not have a godly atttitude. We walk in humbleness of mind and invite the Lord to correct us so that the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart is always acceptable in His sight. We challenge our first, visceral reaction to anything we see and lift up our soul to God saying: “Show me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths.” We don’t wish to confuse our standards with God’s standards. We choose mercy over judgment; forbearance and longsuffering over wrath. We honor God by valuing His verdict on any matter. Where He wishes to show clemency, we show clemency; where He wishes us to declare His hatred toward something, we do so without fear of being called judgmental. We uphold His law; we delight in His commands; we live, not by our own wits and according to our own wisdom, but by every word that comes from His mouth.

When we give God glory we are so captivated by the image and likeness of Christ that we would gladly sacrifice our own reputation and glory to come that much closer to wearing Him.

What is normally considered treatment that no one should have to tolerate, such as being shown contempt, being ridiculed, scorned, belittled, slandered, reproached, falsely accused, are all seen as golden opportunities to win Christ. That men should not know us means nothing to us because they did not know our Master. That those who ought to honor and receive us reject us and cast out our name as evil means nothing to us because our Master came to His own and they did not receive Him. That our words should be contradicted, that our thoughts should be dismissed, that our worth should be diminished by others are not causes of rage and revenge on our part, they are thankfully seen as the very means by which we can partake in the glory of our Lord. To have others take from us what we are desperately holding on to is where pain is increased. To have already counted all that was gain to us loss, to glory in nothing but the cross of Christ, by which we are crucified to the world and the world is crucified to us, to despise the shame of the cross, because of the joy of the crown that is beyond it, all this is to have pain turned to gain, and to benefit from that which drives other men to rage, madness and murder.

The Christian cure for going crazy is not to stuff our natural feelings of anger somewhere deep inside us and hope for the best. God wants us to learn how to worship Him in spirit and in truth. If we will grow as His worshippers we need not fear what we are turning into, we will operate in His spirit of power, love and a sound mind.


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. You can find him on Facebook.