Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Happy The Home When God Is There"1 (Lyrics)
Malachi 4:2a – But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free. (NLT)
"Cuckoo", "nuts", "gone bananas", "gaga" … So many derogatory words describe the battle with mental illness — all of them unkind. But it is a different story on the receiving end. My poor afflicted aunt was left in charge of us one day when I was about ten, and she told me to do the dishes.
"No," I said. "It isn't my turn." Without another word, she picked up the butcher knife with which mother cut up chicken. Her voice changed to an overly-sweet coo as she came at me with the knife. I raced down to our dark, unfinished basement to hide under an overturned wheelbarrow. As she came after me, I prayed and made myself small. Then, suddenly, over our heads, I heard my parents come home.
My aunt turned back and went upstairs to meet them with the knife. I could hear my mother ask what it was for, and my aunt replied that I had been bad and needed punishing. Then, I heard my mother call my name in a wobbly voice that didn't sound like she expected an answer. They never left us with her again.
But all these years later, whenever someone changes their tone of voice from normal to something they perceive as more relational, I am thrown into an internal panic. This continues to happen every Sunday among, of all people, the most kindly folk on earth — church ushers! They'll be talking quietly among themselves. Then, a member like me arrives, and they put on their "greeting voices" — and I freeze up. How can I possibly explain? Instead, I try to obtain a copy of that Sunday's order of service, without responding, always knowing that I'm not in any danger.
I experienced a deep trauma that day — even though far from the horrors of first responders or wartime. Mine obviously wasn't all that bad, and it was 70 years ago. But still, my reaction persists. I once published a fuller account hoping that seeing it in print would make it go away. That didn't happen.
The only thing that has ever helped is turning to my Bible and reading God's promises, especially the one in today's verse. I can feel the trauma abating as I read. The Sun of Righteousness rises in our lives as we come to believe. Everything is brand new. We are still becoming, and the promised healing continues to set free our souls.
Prayer: Dear Father God, thank You for all the hard things in our lives that You continue to set us free of, when we turn them over to You, relying upon the promises of healing in Your Word. Grow us up in faith and understanding, through our doubts and darkness. We are grateful that You will be our rock and our foundation as we turn the trauma, the memories, and the messes in our personal histories, over to You, our strength and hope. Amen.