I enjoy social media. I think it can be a great way to keep in touch with far-flung friends. It can give families a way to share photos quickly. I know for me, it allows my Grandma to be able to see frequent pictures of her great-grandkids. As someone, who suffers from chronic pain, social media can be a great way to mindlessly pass the time when painsominia (insomnia caused be pain.) strikes. Social media can be a great way to find support groups for various chronic illnesses/disabilities. However, there are also downsides to social media.
Every January, I see an alarming number of post from all sorts of people, whom I follow on my social media channels. It happens like clockwork at the beginning of every year. I have included two examples of what I am talking about.
(Credit: Unknown for both of them)
Now my objection to post of this nature isn’t because I am a crazy atheist, who gets upset anytime God/Jesus are mentioned. I am a Christian. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I pray on a regular basis and my spiritual life is vital to my wellbeing as an individual. I am also someone, who suffers from severe chronic pain and have for almost a decade. When I read post like this, I don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling. What I do feel is that my fellow Christians, whether they mean to or not, are telling me I am just not a good enough Christian. If I was just a better more faithful Christian; I wouldn’t suffer from severe chronic pain. After all, as the first picture states, “If you KNEW how He can transform you, how he can take away all that bitterness, that sorrow, that hurt, that depression, anxiety.” Now I don’t personally believe that my medical issues are because I am not a good enough Christian. I don’t expect a miracle healing me from God- if I was blessed enough to receive one; I would rejoice. But God is under no obligation to give me a miracle just because I believe in him. God will love me regardless of how broken I am. He will give me the strength to deal with my challenges.
I am sure there are people, who will read this and say that I am just over sensitive. However, I have had numerous discussions with other people from my various support groups over the years, who feel the same way I do. The easiest way to confirm that my feelings aren’t isolated is to scroll through the comments on these type of post. After all, not only do these sort of sayings tell people like me that we deserve our pain/disease because we simply aren’t good enough Christians; they do immense damage to Christians, who suffer from mental illnesses. Upon reading either one of the images, it sounds as if someone with depression, anxiety, or any of the dozens of mental illness that exist, that they are just not good enough Christians. They are letting Satan be the voice in their heads. People with mental illnesses already have a hard enough time. They don’t need to be made to feel worse because they aren’t Christian enough; they aren’t praying or being faithful enough.
These sort of memes and post aren’t helpful. They aren’t useful tools for evangelizing people. They are harmful. They cheapen God and make him some sort of commodity. They make it sound like if you have enough faith- are devout enough God will cure you of every ill in your life.
Most importantly, these types of messages communicate that people with chronic medical issues (physical or mental) aren’t good enough Christians. They deserve to have their medical problems because they just haven’t been devout enough. They don’t love Jesus enough.
I love Jesus and I have a very strong faith in him. I have no shame in calling myself a Christian. I will proudly stand up and proclaim myself one. However, I can no longer sit quietly without speaking up while these sort of post are frequently circulated. They are belittling and damaging to those with medical issues, even if that is not the original intent. It is entirely possible that people don’t realize the deeper meaning behind them. They believe they are sharing the good news of Christ. I am begging that in the future if you go to click share on a post about how amazing God/Jesus is that you really look at the wording of it. We can share the good news of God without making it sound like our brothers and sisters, who suffer from illness and other troubles are Christians, who need to try harder.