By: Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.

Mark 5: 1-8 (TLB)

“When they arrived at the other side of the lake, a demon-possessed man ran out from a graveyard, just as Jesus was climbing from the boat. This man lived among the gravestones and had such strength that whenever he was put into handcuffs and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the handcuffs from his wrists and smashed the shackles and walked away. No one was strong enough to control him. All day long and through the night he would wander among the tombs and in the wild hills, screaming and cutting himself with sharp pieces of stone. When Jesus was still far out on the water, the man had seen him and had run to meet him, and fell down before him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”

Not meaning to be redundant, but a few years ago I wrote an article that made mention of the illness known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. I think it is named appropriately because of the marked increase of sadness associated with seasonal depression that affects over ten million Americans during the holiday season. When we add to that the number of people who suffer from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), bipolarization, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, the lingering effects of COVID, cataclysmic world events, or any of the number of traumatic experiences that people encounter day by day, it is easy to see why so many people are SAD and in need of psychological help. Unfortunately, psychological help is not as readily accessible or as willingly received as is medical assistance.

In our text, we are introduced to a man who was demon-possessed and lived in a cemetery. The fact that he lived in a graveyard, had supernatural strength, screamed incoherently, and cut himself continually, lets us know that he was clearly not in his right mind. He needed psychological help. His situation was even more complicated because he was demon possessed. Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “the devil got possession of him, and the effect of it was not, as in many, a silent melancholy, but a raging frenzy; he was raving mad.” He needed more than psychological help; he needed divine healing.

The behavior and supernatural strength of this demonically possessed man are some of the same symptoms and behaviors people today exhibit who have disorders that can be identified using modern medical technology. While many of those disorders can be treated and even controlled with psychotherapy and/or medications, there are those whose illness are of demonic origins and cannot. Thankfully, we see in the text that the demons will respond and submit to the power and the authority of Jesus Christ.

I met patients in my early adulthood while serving as a Mental Hygiene Therapist Aide at a mental institution, who were more intelligent, creative, intuitive, and reasonable than anyone I have met before or since. In most cases, what made them “insane” (an extremely derogatory term used to describe people with psychological challenges) was just one little straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I discovered that the idiom “There but by the grace of God go I” is a reality. It is only by God’s grace that I am able to maintain my peace of mind.

There are many among us who are suffering from one or many forms of psychological disorders that are identifiable and treatable through medications and other psychotherapies. But others are suffering demonically and need a spiritual treatment. Either directly or indirectly, every believer in Christ can play a role in changing their lives regardless of the type of malady they are enduring.

We can direct them to, or help them to find qualified persons to help them through scientific and technological means, or introducing them to the same Jesus who commands demons; “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Jesus was more than willing to heal the grave-dwelling crazed man, and he is more than willing to heal any of our sisters and brothers.

That’s why the Lord expects us to do what we have been equipped to do… and leave the rest to Him. There but by the grace of God, that could be you or I.

Be Blessed +++

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at Goodwill Baptist Church and is the spiritual leader of the Evangelical Church of God, both in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company/J Loren R Consulting, LLC for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting (718-328-8096) and is the producer and host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Monday nights from 8:00 – 10:00 PM on The Matters of Faith YouTube channel. Be sure to ‘Friend, Like, and Share.” Email us at mattersoffaith.mof@gmail.com. Order your copy of Matters of Faith: The eBook at www.smashwords.com/books/view/993177

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