Neziswa Kanju spoke to Louie Giglio, US pastor, Passion movement founder and author during his recent visit to South Africa. In this article she shares on a message-of-the-hour on mental illness, which Giglio drew to her attention. In next week’s Gateway News we will publish her profound interview with Giglio on his two new books, Not Forsaken and How Great is Our God. Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science
Recently Pastor Louie Giglio preached a sermon at his Passion City Church called I’m Not Ok But Jesus Is. He shares his personal struggles with depression, the stronghold that it is for the sufferer and what the Church can do. He implores the church to rise up, to awaken to the deadly reality that is mental illness.
He says that people have different sicknesses like diabetes, cancer — and some have mental illness. This is his message to the Church:
“We are living in a broken planet. Depression is real and it is a physiological and psychological illness. Mental illness is a very difficult struggle. I have struggled with depression in my life. When you have a broken arm you put it in a cast you can see it and understand it. When you have depression you cannot see it; touch it or feel it and you cannot put it under a microscope. It does not show up in a blood test. It does not show up in a cat scan.
I am just encouraging the Church more and more to start talking about it to be open to people who are struggling, to not offer quick Bible verses but to get in the story with people. Walk with them. God can and does heal people. God can give us victory, strength and encouragement to walk through mental illness. Mental illness is not a one size fits all problem. Mental illness happens for a lot of different reasons. It happens because of trauma in our lives. It happens because of genetic circumstances in our lives. It happens because of a chemical imbalance. It is sometimes as a result of our own personal failures that we try to keep the world from knowing about.
Mental illness has the power to steal, kill and to destroy and the Church will be able to get into the conversation in a way that we need to once the Church wakes up and understands the power of the grip of darkness that people are struggling with and facing in their lives. We can’t just push it aside. We can’t just say you need to get over that. You can’t just give a bumper sticker size answer to people. We have got to respect that we are talking about a powerful force when we are talking about mental illness. The thing we have to do is to talk about it. Whether it is suicide or depression or crippling anxiety, we are not going to hide in the uncomfortable.
We are going to point to Jesus because He has triumphed over all. The power of depression and suicide garners its strength in the darkness. Scientists say that more suicides happen in the window of midnight than at any other time in the day. I know personally that depression tightens its grip in the night and in loneliness and in isolation and all of us have the opportunity to step out of the night and into light, to step out of the isolation and the depression and into community where we can be honest about who we are.
I have been in the depths of depression. I have been down in the place where lies incubate. I have been down in the place where I never thought I was going to be myself again. I have been in a place where I thought I was losing my mind. With the help of doctors and with Jesus and with the weapon of worship I made it back to the land of the living and by the grace of God I am here.
What I needed in those months was not someone to come along and give me a shout out. Louie you got this, you can do it. That is not what I needed in the darkness and it is not what I needed deep down in that pit. I believe depression is real and it is a killer but it is not bigger than Jesus. If you are in panic right now and you feel suffocated by thoughts of suicide, I want you to know that you are not alone.
We need to talk about mental illness more. The Church needs to talk about depression more. The Church needs to talk about suicide. There was a time we didn’t talk about it. I wish the Church can talk about it and people do not have to hide what is going on in their world. We have to strip all of the pretence away so we can talk about reality and one of the realities going on around us is massive depression. Mental illness everywhere… thoughts of suicide and suicide is happening everywhere and the Church needs to talk about it more. The days of not talking about it are over. Suicide is one of, if not the fastest-growing killerS of young people.
47 173 in the USA took their lives in 2017. 129 people a day. One person every 10 minutes. It is not some problem out there. The pressure to be ok is greatest in the Church. We are a faith community and our songs are one of victory. Isn’t faith enough? Shouldn’t faith be enough? You, a Christian, shouldn’t you overcome depression and struggle and mental illness? The last thing that the world needs is a fake Church. The miracle might be I made it to Monday. The miracle is that I am still here. I am still standing. It is in the process. Jesus was tempted to take His life. In the wilderness the enemy said jump off the corner of the temple and the angels will grab you. He was in fasting for 40 nights and 40 days. What kind of stress was He dealing with?
What if He had jumped and what if angels hadn’t intervened and what if the resurrection plan of Jesus had died that night, so when He says He has been tempted in every way like we are, it means in every way. When Jesus was dying on the cross, one of his closest friends was committing suicide. Sometimes, circumstance are opposite of everything we have come to believe about God. I will not die but will live and will declare what the Lord has done.
You can watch the full message below: