Every generation has struggles that define and shape it. The 1930’s are defined by the Great Depression. The children that were born during this time lived very simply and never threw anything away. I presided over a funeral for a man I pastored. One of the remarks made by his family is that he would rather spend four hours looking for a $.39 bolt that he, “knew he had”, then to buy a new one. He was shaped by his generation.
What is shaping our current generation? There are many items we can point to. Everyone wants to have five minutes of fame or to be an influencer. Others want to change the world. Many though, struggle in a world where anything is possible with Anxiety, Depression, Suicide, Shame, Loneliness. I believe when historians look back to this time, they will see a generation that struggles greatly with Mental Health issues. From a pastoral perspective, I encounter people who struggle with Mental Illness daily. I believe that the church is uniquely equipped to come alongside individuals and families in the middle of these struggles to offer support, encouragement, and help. There are, however, barriers to the church effectively helping. There is a lack of awareness, a refusal to acknowledge the struggle is real, shame for those who suffer, or it is a taboo topic.
The hope is that as we go on this journey together that we will develop a heart of empathy for those who are struggling and for their families. That there will be an awareness of the vastness of the problem of Mental Illness. The National Institute on Mental Health suggests that 1 in 5 adults live with some degree of mental illness. In Luke 4 17-19 Jesus reads from Isaiah 61 applying the verses to Himself. Isaiah says that the Messiah comes to bind up the brokenhearted. This is the work of the church today. I pray Concord will be a place that applies.