Stories Of Mental Illness In The Bible
Since the fall of man, people have struggled with mental illness. The Bible is full of examples of those who exhibited symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other types of mental illness. Besides those mentioned above, others include:
Elijah: Queen Jezebel declared a bounty on Elijah for having killed the prophets of Baal. Fearful, Elijah fled and cried out to God, I have had enough, Lord, he said. Take my life I am no better than my ancestors . Elijah remained in this distraught condition for 40 days and nightsdepressed and unable to meet his basic personal needs.
David: The man after Gods own heart dealt with being treated as the least of his fathers sons, was threatened by the king to whom hed been loyal, and then betrayed by his own son. David recorded many songs of lament that reflect his pain and depression including Psalm 6:6-7 , I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow they fail because of all my foes.
Overwhelmed by the demands as hostess, Martha grew angry toward her sister who perched at the feet of Christ instead of helping to prepare a meal for the guests. Frustrated, Martha finally approached Jesus. Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me. The Lord answered her: Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things, when only one thing is necessary .
Encouraging Bible Verses On Mental Health
Our mental health is important and it needs to be taken care of just as much as our physical health. However, for thousands of years, this was not the case. There has always been a stigma around mental illnesses, especially in the church.
In fact, the church believed that anyone who suffered from a mental illness did so because they were far from God. This could not be further from the truth, I mean the Bible itself says God is close to the brokenhearted.
Thankfully the church has come around in recent times and many now realize that just like a person who is close to God can get a physical illness, that person can also get a mental illness. The Bible even has a lot of guidance and encouragement concerning mental health because God knew that some of His people would go through it. Here are 22 encouraging Bible verses on mental health.
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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Bible Verses About Mental Strength
Cultivating mental strength is one of the most important things you can do in your life. Youre human, and as a human, difficult times are inevitable. Tough days are going to happen so its best to know how to respond when it does.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom. Proverbs 13:10
Fear not, for I am with you be not dismayed, for I am your God I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
The Bible And Mental Health
Some of the common ailments associated with mental health are anxiety and depression. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 264 million people struggle with depression and 40 million people struggle with anxiety .
It is a true reality that anybody can struggle with their mental health whether the individual is young or old, a believer or an unbeliever. If you struggle with mental health, you are not alone.
Other mental health problems in addition to anxiety and depression include eating disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and PTSD. Each of these illnesses can happen to a person for a variety of reasons.
Thus, it is crucial that as believers, we do not judge, belittle, or condemn those struggling with mental illnesses. Rather than condemning those with mental illness, Christians are to help, show kindness, and love them .
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Defeating Fear And Mental Illness
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
If you want to overcome mental illness, God is ready to give you the benefits that come out of relationship and fellowship with the Godhead. The power being the Holy Spirit, the Love coming from relationship with the Father, and the sound mind coming out of renewing our minds with the washing of the water of the Word of God.
A Story Of Schizophrenia And Spiritual Exhaustion To A New Grace
A few years ago, someone drove two hours to meet for one of my coaching consultations. This person described their full journey with schizophrenia the debilitating anxiety, the multiple voices, and the hallucinations . This person tried every spiritual discipline and professional care, with very little progress. A mature ministry leader reasoned out that much more spiritual deliverance and work was needed to resolve his mental torment. They broke down and said to me
“I’m ready to give up on Jesus.”
This person followed Christ since childhood, but now thirty-something, after months of wrestling was ready to leave Christ once and for all.
Heres the deal I heard a wise teacher once say,
People dont walk away from God, theyre really walking away from what theyve been taught about Him.
I didn’t have a magic formula to remove all the anxiety, voices, or hallucinations I just helped this person to see that maybe they were wrestling with the wrong questions – from what they were taught about God. We discussed a different lens of grace FROM within the chaos, not a grace accessed by a formula, a deliverance ministry, or some other fight the good fight measure. We reframed with everything that was right and whole, the focus fight, not the works fight. Months of wrestling ended in 10 minutes!
fight the good fight”
a full inheritance of life and a deep love from the Father that will never cast you away .
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Christian Quotes On Mental Health
When God has already defined you as His and purposed by Him, no mental illness can change that. Brittany Moses
Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say My tooth is aching than to say My heart is broken. C.S. Lewis
When you cannot see the future and not knowing the outcome gives you anxiety, focus on the One who has gone before you. He knows the plans He has for you. Brittany Moses
Even as a Christian, youll have good days and youll have bad days but youll never have a day without God.
When it feels like youre empty and hurting alone know God is present in this space with you. And as you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. He sees what no one sees, He hears what isnt said but is cried out by the heart and He will restore you.
I find myself frequently depressed perhaps more so than any other person here. And I find no better cure for that depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and seek to realize afresh the power of the peace-speaking blood of Jesus, and His infinite love in dying upon the cross to put away all my transgressions. Charles Spurgeon
Recovering From Mental Illness
Now that we understand what the root issue is behind mental illness, and have a Biblical understanding of where mental illness comes from, lets move on to how we can be recovered.
Even from the Old Testament, the prophet, Isaiah, spoke of the hope for recovery that Jesus would bring to us.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all that mourn To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3 KJV
What Does The Bible Say About Mental Illness
The Bible does not speak directly to mental illness apart from Deuteronomy 28:28 which reads, The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart. Here, God was warning the Israelites about rebelling and worshipping the Canaanite gods. Mental illness would be one of the results of rebellion.
This sobering verse was played out in the life of King Nebuchadnezzar. O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow .
While we know mental illness can be the direct result of God humbling a people group or an individual, it can also simply be the result of living this side of heaven. Just as a persons body can be physically ill, an individuals chemical composition can be unbalanced.
Mental illness can also result from poor decisions as it did with Jonah. One of Gods prophets, Jonah disobeyed God and endured a terrible storm only to be swallowed by a great fish where he remained for three days. Finally, the fish spat Jonah onto dry land and the prophet proceeded to fulfill his God-given assignment. By this point, Jonah was depressed. If he had obeyed immediately, Jonah would not have suffered such horrific circumstances.
The Power Of Worshiping God
This scripture reveals something amazing about the power of worshiping God in order to defeat the works of evil spirits in our lives and the effects of mental illness. When David played the harp, the evil spirit could not stand in the presence of adoration and worship towards God. But as soon as he stopped, the tormenting spirit could return and be at peace.
Why didnt it leave altogether? Because Saul remained unrepentant, he still refused to turn his heart back towards God. He was content with a temporary fix but not interested in the real solution to his problem.
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Can You Be A Christian And Seek A Counselor
God created the entirety of manbody, soul, spirit, and mind. Each of those parts is designed to operate and function as a whole. None of us balks at the idea of providing our bodies with nourishment, rest, or exercise. Or, if we get sick, we do not refuse medical care.
We should give the same regard to the care of our spirit, soul, and mind. While they are not physical, each impacts our physical well-being as well as our relationships with God, family, and friends. Seeking a counselor when our mental health is tenuous is like providing the nourishment, rest, and exercise we need to a part of us that needs support.
Seeking a Bible-believing counselor who asks hard questions such as, What does the Bible say about mental illness? is something for which one should be congratulated. The enemy will try to convince you there is no hope or that seeing a counselor is pointless, but I can tell you from personal experience that those are untruths.
Christians are not superhuman. We are believers because we recognize our own fallibility and, in situations concerning mental illness, those of us who struggle merely need the support of a licensed professional for a period of time.
When you are looking for a counselor, I recommend you interview a few candidates and have a few questions prepared in advance. With whom do you feel most comfortable? Do you prefer working with a male or female? Would you like your counselor to open and close in prayer?
Bible Verses About Mental Illness
BibleStudyTools Staff Save
What does the Bible say about Mental Illness? Scripture tells us that the fall of man, sin, led to total depravity and death. Our physical and mental bodies are attacked by disease. Mental illness is a part of living in a fallen world. Treatment of mental illness involves the whole person. Counselors and doctors can work together to attend to the physical and mental aspects of illness. Read these Scriptures related to mental illness and find comfort from the one who created you and wants you to experience freedom.
To find the full context of shorter scripture quotes, click on “Chapter” above each verse.
Recommended Reading: Where Does The Bible Talk About Suicide
Examples Of Mental Health In The Bible
There are many many examples of people who struggled with their mental health in the Bible, here are a few of them along with where you can read the full story:
In 1 Kings 19, we find Elijah struggling with his mental health during a conflict with Queen Jezebel. In this chapter, he actually runs away to a place he could be alone and prays for God to take his life. He too, like many of us today, was discouraged, weary, and afraid.
I have had enough Lord, he said. Take my life, I am not better than my ancestors. 1 Kings 19:4
In the book of Psalms, we get an inside look at Davidsmental health. He cried out to God time and time again because even as a man after Gods own heart, he wasnt immune to mental illnesses. Even as someone who had enough faith to defeat a giant with a stone, he was not always mentally strong. Even with all of his accomplishments, he was still human.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.Ps. 42:11
Jeremiah, the prophet who wrote one of the most popular scriptures in the world , also suffered with his mental health. He often felt lonely, defeated, and insecure because he was poor, never married, and never had children. He was also regularly made fun of by the people he tried to reach out to. He was a great man, one that believed in God with all his heart, yet he still suffered.
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.
How Your Thoughts And Feelings Interact
Painful feelings result from thoughts that generate painful feelings. Pleasant feelings result from thoughts that generate pleasant feelings. The feeling parts are not rational. Of course theyre not theyre feelings! Feelings dont act they reactto thoughts. Emotions are a result of, at the mercy of, and reliant on the accuracy of thoughts. When thoughts become distorted and are not true or rational, they inevitably produce distorted and potentially damaging feelings. The painful feelings we call emotional problems are the product of irrational thought patterns.
- are right or wrong
- are true or untrue
In contrast, emotions are byproducts of thoughts. Consequently, emotions dont have moral valuetheyre just feelings, neither right nor wrong. Certainly, some are more desirable than others. Id much rather feel happy than sad, but it is not wrong to feel sad. Such a feeling might be pointless, unnecessary, or disproportionate to the situation, but feeling sad is not wrong morally. Feelings are just feelings.
However, the part of your brain that matters, in terms of where your emotions go in response to those thoughts, cant tell the difference between a true thought and a false one. So, an emotion gets generated as if your thoughts were accurateeven when theyre distorted.
If youre to live in reality, you must consider your Creators perspective. You must accept his definition of truth.
If so, how?