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Sufferers are not alone in their struggle

You are not alone. That's right. According to the National Association of Mental Illness, there are 58 million Americans who battle with mental illness. Though it feels like you walk your path alone, you are not. Though it feels like no one understands, they do.

What is mental illness? The Mayo Clinic says it "Refers to a wide range of mental health conditions -- disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Even though it is normal to experience difficult days or seasons of life, a clinically diagnosed mental illness is different. It is something that is ongoing where people cannot cope with daily life and no amount of self-discipline or will power can "fix it."

Chatter about mental illness rises every time there is a mass shooting like the recent Navy Yard incident, the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre or the Aurora, Colo., theater killings.

But not everyone who has a mental condition is going to be the next mass shooter. Most are responsible, hard-working people, who are good neighbors, good employees and look perfectly fine on the surface. However, on the inside are conditions that nearly cripple their daily life. Most folks would be surprised to know who battles with mental illness. Often, people silently cope with only their closest family or friends knowing. And the caregivers end up bearing a heavy load while trying to understand and care for them.

It can be a lonely and frustrating time while dealing with a disorder. You might feel as if you are alone and no one understands. On this journey, I believe God wants to send a message -- "You are not alone."

God understands and is waiting for you to turn to him. Yes, we might need to pursue medication, professional counseling or a treatment plan. Yet, we must not forget the world's great Liberator. God, through his son, Jesus, came from heaven to earth, died and rose again to set us free from the chains of sin and sorrows of this world. He stands ready to grant you an eternal hope in the face of your mental illness. The Scriptures say, "Seek the Lord while he may be found; Call upon him while he is near." (Isaiah 55:6).

May Jesus be your hope for today.

Clint Decker is president and evangelist with Clay Center-based Great Awakenings. cdecker@greatawakenings.org