Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me. (Psalm 142:6)
The greatest enemy I’ve faced in my disordered life has come from within – from the illness itself. The dangerous highs have skewed my perspective and taken my focus away from essential tasks I’ve needed to complete in order to be productive and lead a balanced life. The desperate lows have robbed me of the energy to do much of anything. Bipolar disorder has made a mockery of my mind and left my emotions ragged, strewn about like carcasses along life’s road.
More than a few times, however, I have also had external persecution that seemed too strong to overcome. When I have “come out” about my illness, some people have become so disturbed that they’ve tried to prevent me from doing even what I do best. In a few cases, former friends have abandoned me and allies have betrayed me.
After several battles with such persecutors, I’m learning to let them be and accept that the path of non-resistance is most often the best path to take. I’ve seen ample evidence that their passion stems from unresolved issues over the illness in themselves or other loved ones. Nothing I can say or do will help them make them address this. I’m better off looking elsewhere for my support and being very selective about what battles I fight.
Persecutors can be very strong, as this Psalmist points out, but ultimately the power of the LORD prevails. We need to draw on God’s strength each time we face persecution so that we can overcome.
There was one particular time in my ministry when I was under heavy attack. Unable to sleep, I walked through the darkness to church and entered the sanctuary. Circling the pews I started to pray, reciting –
Rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me!
My own tears mingled with the tears of the Psalmist, and for over an hour I cried out to God for relief. In time, I gained the strength to leave the sanctuary and re-enter the battle, confident God had heard me and would help me endure the attacks that came – with grace and love.
I look back on those days and marvel at how I functioned with a mental illness in such stressful situations. I certainly couldn’t have done it alone. Thanks be to God, I didn’t have to.