Hope, Heaven, and the Unclouded Day

I think about heaven sometimes. I want to think I have some sense of how it might go when the Day comes, when in the twinkling of an eye, everything changes.

We sang about heaven a lot when I was a child in the country church where I teethed on the Bible. The reality of eternity was one of the first great doctrines of my faith--- eternal life, life just beyond my knowing. Even as a child, I had a sense there was a greater reality beyond what I could see.

You probably have heard the old saying about some people “being so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.”

Well, I am not that person. (If you who know me just threw your head back and laughed! I know! I am in my head a lot...thank you for loving me anyway.)

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:11-12, ESV)

When I turn my imagination to the place called heaven, try to picture what heaven is like, my understanding becomes cloudy. There is a longing for heaven within me that I find comforting. In fact, I live with a deep sense of heaven as my home, the place where I will be whole. There I will know the fullness of redemption, be in the Presence of my Savior. Is that not heaven’s greatest reward?

Most of us don’t think about heaven much because we can’t wrap our mind around it, can’t fill in all the details, don’t have the itinerary.

Almost thirteen years ago I walked into a mental health facility. The door locked behind me. I had lost hope and my eyes saw no reflections of heaven.

Those suffering from many forms of mental illness live with little to no hope. Darkness has fallen over their lives. The mirror they are peering into is giving them a distorted view of the here and now. Life is cloudy with a hundred percent chance of rain. Their eyes see no glimpses of heaven in their downcast gaze.

Most of us don’t think much about mental illness because, like heaven, we don’t understand it. 

We live in a world that is broken. God loves the broken, those who are sick, including the mentally ill---and so should we.

I know. It is hard. It is messy. And we can feel ill-equipped and get frustrated when we can’t understand how someone with mental illness sees their distorted world.

If you take time to notice the people around you, there's a good chance that someone will cross your path that is suffering in the darkness. It will probably be someone you know. You can’t fix them but you can help them along the path of life. There's a fine line between helping and enabling. You need to know there are boundaries (there must be). Ask God to help you put them in the appropriate places---know you can only walk with them only so far...

Would it you help you to know that the person you wish could get on with life is thinking along these lines?

  • If I could find my bootstraps, I would pull them up.
  • I live in the now, but I am very near-sighted. I draw a tight circle around my world. I need control. When I can’t control, I get angry. I need someone or something to place the blame---someone other than myself.
  • I am a victim. I am broken, but I am ashamed to tell you or anyone else.
  • The secrets I keep make me anxious. I am living under tremendous stress.
  • I say I can’t do things you ask me. I don’t have the will or strength to do what you think is good for me. When I say I can't, what I mean is I won’t. I am being selfish because I don’t think I deserve the help you are offering me. 
  • I am going to resist medicine because I want to think I will find the strength do the things I have told myself I would do. I will have to be convinced I am sick--- not crazy--- if I am ever to become compliant and take medicine that could help me.
  • I am sorry that I blow things up so that they are bigger than they should be. The numbness I feel triggers my great effort at maximizing my emotions. Affirm my feelings and I will might bring it down a notch.
  • I know I need help, and somewhere deep inside, I know you are NOT the one who can help me. I will never ask you, but will you get me to the help I need, or at least, help me find the resources and keep me accountable to my promises to take advantage of them?
  • I will try to make you angry so I can justify my actions, live in my victimization, and feel justified in my self-pity.

The hardest part of caring for someone who is sick is they must take ownership of their healing process. The willing participation of those suffering is key to finding a way through the darkness to live in the light. 

Life is hard without entering another's pain. But that's what Jesus did for us. He bore our pain and became our hope. 

There is joy coming in the morning, the rain is going to end, and someday all who are in Christ will rejoice on a unclouded day.

(Living with a mental illness is complicated and can’t be easily understood in bullet points. I was suffering from major clinical depression when I was hospitalized. What I have written on behalf of the hurting is to help you to consider how they may be processing their life. My thoughts are not based in science or medicine. I wrote this from experience, my own and my interactions over the years with others who are hurting. I am not a professional and my counsel should be taken with that in mind.

Those suffering in the darkness need someone to hold up a mirror for them to see life more clearly. Just a little reflection of hope can make a huge difference in how their day goes. You can hold up a mirror. Be brave and be the one who reflects the graciousness of heaven here on the earth.)

Thank you for taking time to read this today. Your comments are always a blessing to me.


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