Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3 (KJV). All throughout the Kingdom of Christ, this scripture has been used to both facilitate healing and sometimes usher in torment for the children of God. From a healing perspective, this scripture has salved many a restless spirit. There is something really special and loving when a child of God finds rest in the promises of God, as proclaimed in Isaiah. However, this verse is also misapplied often and used to mock those who belong to Christ and experience mental health issues.
I believe one hundred percent in the power of scripture and proclamations of health via prayer in the Word of God. As believers, we find great comfort when God proclaims: “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” James 5:14 (KJV). As people of God, we know that God often facilitates healing through modern medicine. Very few diabetics who are Christian, would pray and not take insulin in order to regulate their glucose (sugar) levels. Soccer Moms, who love Jesus, will still take their children to the orthopedic pediatrician for sprains and fractures that occurred on the playing field. Yet, despite the use of medicine to complement our prayers and faith, many believers are taught to shun mental health treatment and in fact are often accused of demonic possession if experiencing a mental disorder or condition. Now, we do know that there may be some situations that may indeed be the result of demonic influence. This article is not meant to suggest that sometimes the people of God are not harassed by demonic influences. Nevertheless, many people who experience mental health deficiencies and problems may need their prayers complemented with medication and/or counselling.
According to the World Health Organization, close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, with regard to depression. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. (See World Health Organization Depression Statistics, September 2019). With statistics like these, it stands to reason that the people of God are included in the 800,000 quoted-above. This tells us that the people of God are not immune to diseases and conditions of the mind.
There is no shame in accessing mental health treatment as a Christian than there would be shame in a Christian taking an aspirin for a headache. Contrary to the prevailing myth in Christian communities, mental illness is not the result of a person lacking self-discipline nor is it a sign that someone has sinned and is being punished by God. Mental health disorders are very real and are just as serious as physical illnesses. Biochemical imbalances, genetics, and environmental influences such as drug and alcohol abuse, are sometimes contributing factors to mental illness. Christians will not seek counseling or mental health intervention via therapy or medicine because of the stigma of having the origin of their condition attributed to sin.
If we or loved ones are experiencing mental health issues that may require something more than prayer, there are things we can do. First, know you are not alone. Support groups are an excellent way to connect with others dealing with a similar situation or symptoms. It can be comforting to know that you’re not alone. If you are attending church, reach out to your Pastor or Pastoral designee. There are many programs available both Christian-based and clinical-based that you can be directed to. If you feel judged or are made to feel shame about your condition or symptoms, it is ok to either find another church or seek additional assistance from another competent person. Address the mental health or anxiety issues with the same tenacity you would a broken arm, blindness or any other physical condition. A competent professional can evaluate your condition, diagnose a condition, provide guidance and develop a treatment plan to facilitate healing. There are many treatments available. Sometimes counselling is enough. Sometimes it becomes apparent that the condition may be a mental health disorder requiring treatment with prescription medication and ongoing psychological counselling. Whatever the treatment, it does not have to be a choice between Christian intervention and clinical intervention. They sometimes work hand in hand. For too long the body of Christ has allowed the enemy of our souls to confuse us into believing that scripture and pharmaceutical intervention and/or counseling are at odds. Scriptural authority is not challenged by the usefulness of medical science and the use of intervention through psychiatry/psychology.
“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” (Psalm 73:26). Believing this scripture, know that all healing comes from God. He is able to heal your mind, body and soul. There is nothing too hard for Him. Do not give up because He has not given up on you.