Can a person with schizoaffective disorder truly have faith?


I suffer from mental illness of bipolar and schizoaffective disorder.  I believe in the notion that doctors' advice of medicine helps us keep sane.  But there are mental blocks.  One is the ability to see God as Maker and Creator of heaven and earth.  I have to really mentally think about it before it is natural, before I can pray.  Then at that point, I'd like to point out that my situation is like the father in Mark 9:14-29.  I feel like the father who says in verse 24, "Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."  Ironic enough the problem with the boy was similar to the father: a deaf and mute spirit (verse 25).

It's as if I'm deaf and blind, although I can just barely hear and barely see.  I hold onto the scraps of faith I have and claim them as acceptable in God's eyes, since they are the size of a mustard seed.  What causes spiritual blindness, deafness, and unbelief in general?  Should I just keep praying, staying in fellowship, reading God's Word, and listening to the Holy Spirit?  Will it ever get to the point where I can "see" my faith, and I can claim everything God wants to give me?


You have my sympathy. I have known a number of people with various mental illnesses and I know how rough these things can make life. Schizoaffective disorder bipolar type refers to an illness where a person has extreme mood swings (bipolar) combined with impairment in the perception or expression of reality (schizophrenia). A person with this disorder has trouble distinguishing reality from hallucinations. And jointly or independently they also experience large mood swings.

Because of the hallucinations, people with Schizoaffective disorder have a hard time trusting whether what they are experiencing is real or not.

You will find that a large portion of the world perceive faith as an emotion. But it is not described this way in the Bible. Strong faith brings about an emotional response, but faith is not the emotion. Jesus actually described faith as a work -- something a person chooses to do. "Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent"" (John 6:29). Thus faith is the choice to place your trust or confidence in someone.

That trust is built on a foundation of seeing past evidence and then choosing to trust in future promise because of hope. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). We can see this in the life of Abraham. "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (Romans 4:20-21). Notice that Abraham's faith grew or was strengthened as he continued his life. How? He accepted the promises of God and as he saw some of those promises fulfilled, he became stronger in trusting God in regards to the other promises given to him. "Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations" (Romans 4:18).

Think about his life for a moment. When he was 75 years old, an age when most of us are settling down for our final years, Abram (as was his original name) was told to leave his family and home to go somewhere that God would show him later (Genesis 12:1). In exchange for this trust, God promised to make his descendants a great nation and make his own name great. But at this time Abram never had a child and he was well pass the age of typically having children. Yet Abram hoped that what God said was true and chose to trust God even though on the surface it sounded beyond belief.

He waited 25 years for the promised son to be born, yet despite the long wait, he continued to place his trust in God. He was even told to change his name from Abram, which means "father," to Abraham, which means "father of nations." Can you imagine the nerve Abraham had to have to take on such a name when he had not yet received the son God promised him? But Abraham immediately changed his name and never used his old one again. It showed that he trusted God, and for that trust he was awarded a son.

If you go through the examples of faith in Hebrews 11 you will find that each example talks about a faith that was demonstrated in what the person chose to do. Each person put their trust in God even when it appeared to be difficult, if not impossible, for God to do as He promised. God did that to demonstrate to us that He always keeps His promises. "Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:17-19).

Therefore, faith is not beyond your reach. I could argue that you have the opportunity to demonstrate greater faith that most of the world's population because you can choose to believe in God and His promises despite your personal feelings at any given moment in time. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). You can chose to act on that faith regardless of how you feel at the moment. That chosen trust then can become the anchor for your life. Your perceptions of reality might get skewed. Your moods might swing to extremes, but you can always tell yourself that God is there and that by steadfastly following His teachings you'll get to heaven where you will have a new, perfect body (without the problems of your current one).