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The families of persons with mental illnesses or brain trauma often have to make agonizing decisions, quickly. If the person suffering could hurt himself (or herself) or someone else, you, as a care giver, have very little time to think over options. The options might be dismal, but in this fallen world we live in broken communities, cities, and nations. The broken systems and injustices do not barricade God out of our afflictions, but give him opportunity to reveal himself and his ways to us.

We crave clear answers about the complex decisions we have to make, but as you well know, you won’t find scriptures telling you what to do about each choice you make for the precious soul suffering from mental disorder. Pray, very quickly if necessary, choose, and then rest in God’s merciful love for you and for your tormented family member.

“How can I truly rest,” you ask, “when I had to choose between bad and worse?” Perhaps you had no choice at all. Perhaps you had to watch the convoluted system of health and legal services move your child or sibling from one dismal site to another. The words trust, faith, victory, love, and rest can sound ludicrous in such times. The word lean might not, if you will consider:

“What more appropriate and soothing truth could we bring before you, suffering Christian, than this? You are oppressed; lean upon Jesus. He will undertake your cause, and committing it thus into his hands, He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.  You are lonely; lean upon Jesus. Sweet will be the communion and close the fellowship which you may thus hold with Him, your heart burning within you while He talks with you by the way. Is the ascent steep and difficult? Lean upon your Beloved. Is the path strait and narrow? Lean upon your Beloved. Do intricacies and perplexities and trials weave their network around your feet? Lean upon your Beloved.  Oh, lean upon Jesus in every strait, in every want, in every sorrow, in every temptation. Nothing is too insignificant, nothing too mean, to take to Christ. You need make no excuse for repairing to him; no apology will He require for the frequency of your approach.”                                          Morning Thoughts¹ by Octavius Winslow, pg. 680-681.

What matters more than the accuracy of your decisions is God’s embrace of you and your struggles. As you lean upon him throughout your ordeal you will begin to see his compassion and tender mercies intervening in this cursed and broken world, the one he once declared “good.” The world might no longer be good, but he is.

When you face the stress and chaos of making decisions to prevent dangerous behavior, take courage and commit to the course of action that will result in immediate safety. The whole time (or later, if you forget) lean on Christ. Lean your crying on him, your questioning, your anger, your exhaustion, your panic, and your impotence to work this out. Lean as fully as a heavy tree falling. Lean on him like you would a most beloved brother or friend. Gradually you will grow into knowing him in this way… his way.

¹ Morning Thoughts by Octavius Winslow (Reformation Heritage Books, 2003).