But Simonetta’s most recent book is a memoir: Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them: Schizophrenia Through a Mother’s Eyes. It details the three nightmare years in which she and her husband watched their bright, charming son descend into irrationality, self-destructive behavior, and violent threats. While frantically seeking help for him, and not always finding it, his mother also fought doubt and guilt. Prayer didn’t always comfort, and verses quoted by well-meaning friends didn’t always affirm.
A pastor struggling with depression told me he sank to a point where Biblical counseling and prayer had no effect. Another friend says the same: “I am wrestling with God, and being told to ‘just pray’ or ‘just read’ doesn’t help me. In fact there are times when I try to do those things and I just get angry.” My friend went through several Christian counseling programs before finding a medically trained therapist who was also a Christian: the right combination for making progress. The pastor, also, found himself stuck in a spiritual ditch until he could get a handle on certain physical issues.
Mental illness is the place where mind and body miscommunicate, and while there may well be a spiritual dimension to that failure, treating the spirit alone could be a dangerous mistake.
But—But—(we stammer in protest)—isn’t Jesus all-sufficient? Yes, He is. Jesus is not standing apart from the problem. Jesus is in the problem, just as He is in the cancer or the diabetes or the hypertension. The Spirit indwelling the body is not apart from the body, and if we wouldn’t withhold food from a starved stomach, we shouldn’t automatically block the careful use of meds or secular insight from a frayed mind.
“The gospel has tremendous power,” writes Simonetta Carr, “but it works in ways that are counterintuitive, mysterious, and even imperceptible, transforming into conformity to the image of Christ—a Christ who, in this life, was more anguished than we could ever know.”
No servant is greater than his master; if He was anguished, so may we be. Depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and a host of other disorders are not antithetical to the Christian life—the peace Jesus promises is “not as the world gives” (temporary and superficial), and may sometimes seem the opposite. But God has given us the means to battle them on physical as well as spiritual fronts—and ultimate victory, in this life or the next.