” . . . one who reveals mysteries.”


“The king said, ‘Your God is the greatest of all gods, the Lord over kings, and the one who reveals mysteries. I know this because you have been able to explain this mystery.'” (Daniel 2:47)

On the last afternoon of our youth mission trip last month, we visited The Transallegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV, not far from our mission base.  The asylum operated from 1864-1994 as the state hospital for the mentally ill.  It was a great tour that I highly recommend.  As part of the displays on the first floor there was a very interesting sign that listed reasons for admission.

As you can see, these are actual entries from the hospitals records dating from 1864-1889.
Think of these as what we might call “diagnoses” today, or reasons for the unstable behavior exhibited by the patients.  I’ve split the list so I could blow it up large enough for you to read.
Some of the “diagnoses” seem apparent, and the same we might give today, with a slightly different name.  Their, “Kick of horse,” we’d call, “traumatic brain injury.”  Their, “shooting of daughter,” or, “the war,” we’d probably list as, “post traumatic stress disorder.”  Other diagnoses on their list might even give us a bit of a chuckle (not to make light of any of the terrible suffering of those afflicted) like, “parents were cousins,” or, “women trouble,” or, “politics.”

The ones that also catch my attention are those related to religion.  According to the list there were those admitted and suffering because of, “religious enthusiasm,” “over study of religion,” “jealousy and religion,” and even, “Salvation Army.”  I admire the dedication and compassion of the staff of the 1800’s who worked to try to understand and help those who were suffering from mysterious maladies that we call “mental illness” today.  We have learned so much, but have so much yet to learn.  For example, since the days when someone was admitted with a condition supposedly caused by “religious enthusiasm” we’ve learned that religious enthusiasm doesn’t cause severe mental illness with psychotic features, but rather, the religiously themed psychotic ideations and behaviors are symptoms of an underlying mental illness. We’ve learned so much and made great strides in helping the afflicted as God has revealed more of the mystery of life to us through study, experimentation, observation, and prayer.

As the king said to Daniel, “Your God is the greatest of all gods, the Lord over kings, and the one who reveals mysteries.”  I marvel at all the mysteries that God has revealed to those who have been ready to listen and learn.  In every aspect of life, God has revealed more and more of life’s mysteries as we’ve moved along.  I believe that having faith in God means I need to be open to God revealing more of the mysteries of life that often bring about and/or challenge me to change.  It’s not just a belief I need, it’s a sacred privilege that sometimes comes with cries of delight, and sometimes brings challenge, angst, and sacrifice to be part of change.  Why do we chose to be open to God’s new revelations in some areas of life but not in others?  That’s a real mystery to me.  There are lots of factors, too complicated to discuss in this brief offering.

I sense that God calls me to be open to new revelations about all areas of life – faith, science, relationships, race, sexuality, and more.  I pray that God will give me the courage to listen and the courage to act.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My other book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”


~ by revgenelson on July 20, 2016.

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