November 9, 2013

“But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.  He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys, He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.  Daniel 5:20-21

Wounded Warrior Project

I was recently watching a commercial for the Wounded Warrior Project.  The warrior they were highlighting had suffered a severe head injury.  Mentally, he is no longer the man his wife married.  He was expending tremendous effort to learn basic motor skills that a few years earlier had taken no thought.

However, the damage to this soldier’s brain has effected more than his ability to control his body.  My heart broke for this family when his wife explained that she now considered her husband among the children she cares for.  Her husband is no longer the decisive, independent, cheerful man that he once was.  His brain injury took more than what he could do.  It took who he had been.

Patrick Hoesly / Foter.com / CC BY

This story stirred within me a hidden fear.  I, like most people, do not relish the thought of a debilitating injury.  However, I have less fear of injuries and diseases that affect the body but don’t damage the mind.  While a person’s body may not function, they remain themselves as long as their mind functions.

I find the loss of my mind a fearful prospect.  Prior to public speaking, I have gotten a twinge of fear about sudden onset of tourette syndrome; what if I drop an f-bomb in the middle of a sermon or started barking during a City Council meeting.  When I can’t remember something common, I will go through a self-diagnosis for Alzheimer’s.  Depression’s thief of emotional balance, freaks me out.

Brain injuries, mental illness, Alzheimer’s, all defile the sanctuary of the mind and change the personality of a person.  I have difficulty separating my mind from my identity.  If my mind becomes lost, does the only person I’ve ever known myself to be, cease to exist?  Am I merely a unique network of synapses whose existence depends upon healthy tissue, proper chemistry, and the timely firing of neurons?

By my mind, I do all things.
By my mind, I know the world around me.
By my mind, I know my wife, children, and all whom I love.
By my mind, I read the scriptures and know my God.
By my mind, the world knows me.

ecstaticist / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

We learn in Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind.  Today, he would have been institutionalized rather than being left to eat grass and live exposed.  However, his reduction to beast was not due to random mental illness, an injury, or blood clot.

God took Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity. 

madamepsychosis / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I do not know the means by which he was deprived of his ability to reason but I know who its author was.  All that Nebuchadnezzar was; his position, wealth, status, intelligence, and personality were in God’s hands.  God took Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity from him so that he would “…know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” (Daniel 4:25)

I don’t know all the why’s behind malfunctioning brains.  I don’t know why age eventually strips everyone of clear thought.  However, I do know that God is in control of all things, including the function of brains.  I do know that God continued to know Nebuchadnezzar even when he did not know himself.

Therefore, I do not need to fear the loss of my mind.

Institut Douglas / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

God knows me.  I am His.  If my sanity leaves me, He has the power to keep me.  He will continue to know me even if the person I was ceases to be recognizable.  I am more than a network of synapses. There is a difference between soul and mind, even if I cannot perceive the difference.  The failure of my mind does not erase my soul.  No matter where suffering afflicts us, God keeps the souls of those who are His and brings them home.

God is great and greatly to be praised.  All that we have, even our sanity, is a gift from him.  All is His.  The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will.  He is a good Father and knows what His children need.  He will take care of His children when they cannot take care of themselves.

Therefore, He can be trusted with all that we are and all that we have, even our sanity.

PRAYER: Lord, I lift up all my brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering through brain injuries and mental illnesses.  I pray that you will make yourself known to their troubled minds.  I pray that you will grant them a peace and understanding beyond the function of their mind.  Father, thank you for my mind.  Thank you for the gift of sanity.  Thank you enabling me to know myself and more importantly to know you.  Forgive me for my pride and fear.  I praise You, my Lord and Savior.  You truly are the most High God and all things are yours.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


  1. Praise God that the failure of my mind will not erase my soul! Thank you, JD, for digging deep to the core of what’s really important. As much as we value our mental capacities, it is only the spirit which as eternal.

    A thought-provoking post!

  2. Reblogged this on The Narrowing Path and commented:
    A wonderful reflection from JD on the faithfulness of God through the trials of anxiety and mental illness. It reminded of a Scripture verse that has been an encouragement to me when my mind is burdened…the Apostle Paul writing to Timothy ” for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)

  3. Traumatic brain injury, dementia, and Alzheimer’s are more ” acceptable” and understood conditions. As a nurse who has worked with the mentally ill, and who suffer from a mental illness that was not apparent until midlife, mental illness is not nearly as acceptable or understood. Some 90 percent of us have co-occurring addiction issues. We exhaust family, friends, and unfortunately “the church”. A huge percentage of us end up exhausted as well and committ suicide. Many of us love The Lord Jesus with all we are able to give and continue to suffer. Yes, we know in our hearts that we are safe and secure….I am not nearly as ill as many of my brothers and sisters….but I do know many suffer horribly….May we all be sensitive toward them. Thank you JD for reminding all of us we are made in God’s image and are triune beings as well

  4. God knows me even when I do not know myself…I love this thought..again the mind…

  5. what a wonderful post with a lot of wisdom and encouragement in it. I saw my grandmother suffer from dementia before she died and it scares me –especially when the only reason she knew me was by recognizing my forner husband! I also watched my mother live through severe mental health illness and die at the young age of 58. Amazing how the mind works. I confess that although I know God is in control and will always be with me, I have a great fear of dementia, of losing my mind and not knowing my loved ones. Thank your for the statement you made that “failure of the mind does not erase the soul”, I find that to be very encouraging,

    • Elaine,
      Thanks for your comments and I am so glad this post was encouraging.
      God Bless!

  6. Another great post. Thank you for sharing it.

    It hits close to home as my father also suffers from dementia. It is good to be reminded that God still knows His people, regardless of their mental condition.

    Thanks also for stopping by my poetry blog. : )

  7. You got me searching for those ads and made my eyes watered

    • Yeah – it puts the sacrafice of service into perspective.

  8. What a poignant thought: “There is a difference between soul and mind…The failure of my mind does not erase my soul.” That’s some real comfort and a firm lean on the grace of God. Really good article and a nicely lyrical poem, too.

  9. Your post hit home for me. Having just spent two weeks with my father who has dementia it was obvious that he is more distant from what is going on around him than ever before, Even so, when he looked at me and said a slurred, “I love you,” I knew he still recognized me. For that piece of his mind to still be intact was a precious gift from God–praising Him always!

    • Hey Kathie,
      Thanks for your comment. I prayed that our Lord will continue to lift you and your Father up and give you strength and peace that is not of this world. I pray that He will give your Dad more of those precious gifts of mental clarity.
      May the God richly bless you!

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