We’re wrapping up Mental Health Month (May 2018) in just a few days. Hopefully, this weekly blog series has raised your understanding and awareness of mental health. But as Christians, we always want to make sure that our understanding of things is true – and we know truth from God himself.
What does God think about mental health?
God created human beings perfectly. Our spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, and relational health were each 100%. But when Adam and Eve chose to sin (see Genesis 3), this perfect health was broken. Our spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, and relational health could never again be perfect (until Jesus returns and restores all things!). In this life, nothing is the same. Natural disasters show us the brokenness of the world, and health problems also show us the brokenness of the world.
God understands that we all struggle. He knows that cancer is real, just like schizophrenia is real. He knows that relationships sometimes bring joy and sometimes bring grief or pain. He does not expect us to experience physical paralysis, demonic influence, divorce or the death of loved ones without being impacted! That would be unrealistic and even cruel. He knows that our thinking will sometimes get off track, that the chemicals in our brains will sometimes mis-function, and that our hearts will be broken by the brokenness in this world.
Seeing mental health in the Bible
How do we see God responding to this hurt and struggle? He weeps with us. He allows the holy Son, Jesus Christ, to endure suffering, abandonment, and death in order to redeem us for himself. You never see Jesus laugh at or judge people who are struggling. He does not ignore them. Instead, he shows compassion to them. Again and again, Jesus encounters crowds of hurting people who are seeking the healing that only he can bring – physical, spiritual, mental, relational, and emotional healing – and he has compassion on them. Even when it is pain that their own actions have influenced (see, for example, his response to the Samaritan woman who had lived with multiple men in her life), Jesus cares for these people who are hurting.
You’ll even find examples of mental illness in the Bible, although they do not use the word “mental illness.” One good example is the story of God’s prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. While Elijah did not visit a psychiatrist and get a formal diagnosis of major depressive disorder, he is clearly struggling with depression. God did not judge or punish Elijah, but instead, God provided for Elijah. He sent food (physical health), acknowledged Elijah’s feelings (mental health), stayed with him (relational health), and restored Elijah while he rested (spiritual health).
Mental illness is not unbiblical nor is it a sin. If we pretend that we are happy all of the time, we deceive ourselves. If we pretend that God never expects us to feel grief, anger, or confusion, we are misunderstanding God.
I would encourage you to spend time reading, meditating on, and praying through the book of Psalms. There is great emotion reflected in the psalms, all of which God understands, hears, and responds to as He cares for you.
Written by Jessica Hayes
iHope Executive Director