First Consider This Perspective
Your big brain likes information. It wants to grow and do a better and better job of protecting you and getting your needs met. You have nourished this brain in just the last few minutes by your attention to this essay. The simple acquisition of new information and determination to apply it has started you already on the path to health. You now are in possession of psychological principlesof a way of thinking about mental healththat is consistent with objective, biblically sound truth. Never again do you need to be confused about what is generating emotional distress it is distorted thinking.
It’s Not A Works Fight It’s A Focus Fight
Paul is reminding us that we have a WHOLE new identity, a new humanity always full of grace .
Because of this, we can “fight” to stay focused on the eternal security we already have,even in depression, anxiety, or any other challenge.
It’s not a works fight, it’s a focus fight. Because a great identity-value focus always leads to new ways of living, not vice versa!
Paul follows up the call to “fight the good fight” by saying, “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” This means your true identity and grace in Christ are already within reach for any journey, condition, or circumstance. So, fight the good fight really means
Youre already interconnected and lovingly secure in Christ! Dont give up or give in to anything contrary to what Christ has already fulfilled in you!
Despite the condition , take hold of what you do have and rest in your new creation reality! Create life around that, not working to try to get it – as if it were far off.
Attacking Anxiety When Anxiety Attacks You
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Anxiety may be one of the most misunderstood mental health issues within the church. Again, people who offer advice on this topic are often well-meaning, but in many cases, their delivery leaves a lot to be desired. Its not uncommon for well-intentioned brothers and sisters in Christ to cite a verse in Philippians that tells us to be anxious for nothing . While Paul was discussing the importance of us praying about everything in that verse, it is not an indictment against those who suffer from anxiety.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety. Please understand that anxiety is not sinful. Pauls encouragement that we should be anxious for nothing wasnt a declaration that anxiety was sinful. Instead, Paul was discussing the importance of taking those issues directly to God, our true source of peace and hope.
We can go on the offensive against anxiety before it has the chance to attack us. As we discussed with depression, God does not want us to try to navigate our anxiety on our own. Instead, Peter said that we could take our anxiety to God and literally throw them to Him.
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What Does The Bible Say On Mental Health
Although youd never find the words mental health or mental illness written in the Bible, you will find the symptoms of it. Anxiety, sadness, brokenness, immense fear, and panic are in the Bible, people in the Bible have gone through it too.
There are stories of people who went through mental illnesses and scriptures of encouragement directly from God for it too.
The Bible actually validates that mental illnesses do exist and that God cares for you enough to meet you where you are and help you heal.
God Sees You And Is With You
We have a personal Savior who experiences emotions. As you suffer the effects of mental illness, you can remember the nearness of Christ. He weeps with you, as he wept with Lazaruss family . He knew the resurrecting work he was about to do, but he sobbed with anger anyway. Likewise, he knows how he is going to work in and through your life, and he is with you in the midst of it.
By grace, he sent the Holy Spirit, our comforter and counselor, to be with you, to help you. The Holy Spirit intercedes for you . He cries out for you when you cant form words, but only sounds of despair .
Remain steadfast, therefore, for there is great hope: The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit . We are all broken in our own ways, but Christ makes us whole. He lights up the darkest corners of my heart and mind . He pulls me out of the deepest pit . And if he sees fit, he will use me to reach others .
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The Body And The Mind
The individuals body and mind are both factors of a persons mental health. If a persons mind and body are having difficulties, a persons mental state will suffer as well. Elijah was a prophet who struggled with suicidal thoughts during a difficult time in his life.
1 Kings 19:4 informs us of Elijahs struggle, While he himself went a days journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. I have had enough, Lord, he said. Take my life I am no better than my ancestors.
God did not take Elijahs life, but rather, gave him the strength to keep going. God helped Elijah by providing Elijah with a good nap and a good meal .
After Elijah had slept and ate, he was ready to continue on with the work of the Lord. While those who struggle with suicidal thoughts may not feel better after taking a nap or eating a good meal, God does not want any person to take their life.
If a Christian is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they need to seek out medical help, therapy, and most importantly, pray to God about their feelings. There is nothing wrong with seeking help from doctors, therapists, or counselors. God has placed professional doctors, therapists, and counselors in their positions for a reason.
But What If These Interpretations Are Wrong
The answer to this question will be different depending on the tradition of the person asking. For example, for some Christians, affirming or not affirming transgender and non-binary people is connected to salvation and eternity. For other Christians, the afterlife isnt their main concern, but instead their focus is determining what it means for Christians to contribute to human flourishing and to the moral integrity of the church. Whatever is at stake for the person asking, it is important to note the role of humility, grace and having a consistent standard to apply in discerning what is true of God. We read in Pauls letter to the Corinthians that until Christ returns we are bound to see truth in a way that is incomplete, a mere reflection, as in a mirror, dimly . The Bible calls its interpreters to the awareness that even if ultimate truth about any subject isnt always in our grasp, we can still remain committed to the task of trying to find it.
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What Does The Bible Say About Mental Illness
The conversation on mental illness and its validity have been controversial at times, especially among those within the faith. It is important to note that the Bible never explicitly speaks about mental illness in terms of how we would define it in modern times. Even so, more churches are experiencing the effects of mental illness within their congregations. Treatment and care have been topics that many have debated, and while these questions are not easily answered, the Bible provides insight on how we should view and respond to those who are battling with their own minds.
Cast Your Cares Before God And Pick Up Thanksgiving
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 KJV
When we learn to cast every single care on God, when we learn to stop being careful, or fearful, but to boldly come to the throne of grace to find mercy and help in the time of need , we will begin to have clarity of thought and peace of mind.
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Mental Illness Can Be A Spiritual Issue
Perhaps, in some cases, our depression, anxiety, or any other thing that we would consider to be mental illness may have a connection to our disobedience and sin toward God. While we know that those who have placed their trust in Christ have freedom from condemnation for their sins , we may experience its earthly consequences. When we are confronted with the brokenness of ourselves and our sin, the conviction may be overwhelming and give us feelings of grief and despair. We see this take place when David is confronted with his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband . We also see characters where their mental state is somehow connected to their spiritual state Lastly, there are numerous accounts where the spiritual and physical seem to be connected, such as the account of Legion in the New Testament . From these examples, the hope we have in the midst of mental suffering is that the Lord knows, hears, can heal, and is always ready to forgive our sins when we come to him .
Jesus Is Our Example Of How To Fight The Good Fight Vs More Works To Prove His Faith
When the devil approached Jesus in the wilderness, he tried to tempt Jesus by questioning His identity in relation to his pain. If you notice, the questions were related to testing Jesus identity in order to create fear, tempting Him to prove Himself and even give up His identity for earthly glories.
The devil tempted Jesus by saying,
If you are the Son of God, then .
Jesus “fought the good fight” by resting in the Truth of who He was and His secure relationship with the Father, not by testing or proving it with works.
Jesus responded with the Truth,
It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test” .
Interestingly, Jesus didn’t do anything except stand in the Truth. In other words, Jesus rested securely in the true focus of who He is, His secure relationship IN THE Father, and His focus on earth was for us . Thus, Jesus endured the wilderness with intimate security, not a formula of a distant God.
As a result, the devil departed and Jesus returned from the wilderness in great power .
Maybe you will return from the wilderness in great power, too!
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Surprising Things The Bible Says About Mental Illness
She twisted the tissue in her hands and muttered the words, He told me wants to jump off a bridge so I told my counselor. Theyre in the emergency room now.
Close to 10 to 15 percent of teens struggle with symptoms of depression while one in five adults grapple with significant mental illness. But the girl with the red-rimmed eyes and tattered tissue was not a statistic or number. She was a 12-year-old girl afraid for her brother, and I wondered, with anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental health a significant issue in the lives of both children and adults, what does the Bible say about mental illness?
What The Bible Says About Mental Health
God wants those who are struggling to know they are not alone.
We all know the importance of physical health. We are told to pick food rich in vitamins and minerals, exercise several times a week, and go get regular checkups from our general practitioner. What about our mental health, though? This is a topic that is often brushed off by Christians and churches. Yet, having strong and resilient mental health is vital for our well-being. Those who suffer from mental illness should know that they are not alone, for example.
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Spiritual Illness In The Bible
Mental illness has another factor that is not often considered in designing treatment programs. Much of what we call mental illness has a spiritual component that, if left unaddressed, keeps a person in bondage. Human beings have a spirit. To be created in Gods image means we have life that is unlike the life of animals or plants. Our lives are directly connected to Gods life. Acts 17:28 says, In Him we live and move and have our being. When we are disconnected from God, we cannot live as whole beings. We sense the void and try to fill it with other things. But those things ultimately fail us, and that can contribute to mental illness.
The first step in becoming spiritually whole is to receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. Even for those people who have a relationship with God through Jesus, we still sometimes have misperceptions about who God really is that can negatively affect our view of ourselves, others, and the world and contribute to mental illness. Sin can also get in the way of our fellowship with God and negatively affect our mental health. We are better equipped to handle mental illness when we are steeped in Gods truth and in active relationship with Him.
The Neuroscience Behind This Approach And Why They Get Stuck
Clinical research shows that people living with depression and/or anxiety have an overactive amygdala . In prolonged states this disrupts the brains ability to process thoughts and balance moods staying stuck in fight, flight, or freeze mode and it leads to physical fatigue.
The counsel to keep “fighting the good fight” is re-triggering the amygdala to stay in high alert and increases more scrupulous thinking to find the cause . Then, its trying to find the right spiritual fix formula to, first, get right with God and if its enough second, then God will release a blessing to remove the pain. Adrenaline may be so high in this effort that they may experience relief but it quickly returns with disappointment. In tears, after seeing no results the questions end up being,
“I’m doing everything I can, God where are you?
God why are you so silent what am I doing wrong?
God why are you not helping me God, please?”
Faith feels dim and completely exhausting!
But, there is another, and more positive, way to look at this to find comfort and actually experience more relieving hope.
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A Social Support System
“… Woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up,” says Ecclesiastes 4:10Ecclesiastes 4:10For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls for he has not another to help him up.American King James Version×).
The need for emotionally supporting family and friends is scientifically established. “What happens if we have no close relationships? The message that emerges loud and clear from scientific evidence accumulated since the mid 1970’s is that having a reasonable quantity and quality of social relationships is essential for mental and physical wellbeing” .
Human interaction spawns growth and is essential mentally and physically. Proverbs 27:17Proverbs 27:17Iron sharpens iron so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.American King James Version×tells us that “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” .
Perhaps the chief benefit of uplifting social contact is that it provides us the opportunity to learn how to love and serve. This is vital to mental health. “I have never met a person who is genuinely focused on helping others who is unhappy or dissatisfied with life … I can assure you that they are happy because they are directing their attention away from themselves” .
Faith: Talking About Mental Illness In The Bible
There is considerable debate about mental illness and how society and the health-care system need to be dealing with it.
Depression is rampant, even among young people and schizophrenia, dementia, personality disorders and phobias have a huge debilitating effect on those suffering with them and on their loved ones.
But there is nothing new about mental illness.
It was certainly present in ancient times and the Bible makes specific reference to several cases. King Saul, the first king of Israel, was repeatedly afflicted by what we would probably term clinical depression today. In scripture, it says “an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him” — a rather unsettling description, but it was considered common to ascribe the torment of mental illness to an “evil spirit” in those times.
Saul’s advisors recommended that someone who could play the harp be summoned to ease his mental distress and David was appointed to the task. Samuel writes, “Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play and the evil spirit would leave him.”
It is somewhat ironic that music therapy, which often uses harp music today, was employed 3,000 years ago.
David had his moral weaknesses, but mental illness does not seem to have been a problem for him . He did, however, feign mental illness to get himself out of a bind.
Achish said, “Look at the man. He is insane! Why bring him to me?”
So he released David, who escaped to the cave of Adullam.
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