Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week, day 7

“...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” Galatians 5:22, 23

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness. According to the Bible, showing kindness is evidence of living in harmony with God’s life-giving and -sustaining Spirit, in common with other related attributes.

But this is the same Spirit who inspired, who breathed life into, the passion of psalmists and prophets, and Mary’s song, in hopeful insistence that the mighty who are indifferent to the cry of the common people be brought low, and those who have been brought low be lifted up and honoured.

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do in relation to another human being is cry out for God to humble them, to long with all your being for their downfall. Not in order that they be destroyed, but because in being brought low we might actually come back to our senses, and as a pre-curser for being raised up again.

How do you know whether your motivation is the Spirit, or a self-promoting, self-glorifying envy of another? That is a matter of soul searching, of commitment to integrity, of dependence on the very Spirit of life. To commit to kindness is not to suppress anger or sadness at injustice. And our shared, distributed mental health is, at least in part, a barometer of justice/injustice.

Sometimes the kindest thing God can do for us is bring us down. And sometimes, the kindest thing God can do for us is lift us up. Kind, because, as the psalmist discovered (139) if I am brought down to the shadowy half-life existence of Sheol, even there I am held by God; and if I rise into the heavens, there, too, God holds me. In the ups, and the downs, and every point in between. God’s intention is not to bring us to a level place, so much as into harmony with rhythms ordained by and experienced with him.

There is grace in being brought low, and in being lifted up again.

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