Mental Illness Affects Christians, Too.
The feeling knocks the breath out of you. You break out into a cold sweat. Your hands are trembling and you attempt to calm your mental state with deep breathing and mindful thoughts. You whisper, “God, please help”, but this isn’t working. You feel that you have no other choice, so you take a Xanax – it’s the medicine your doctor prescribed for occasions like this. However, what was once an occasional situation has become more frequent and you are finding that you are dependent on the prescription to get you through.
Do you know that millions of people are affected mentally each year by panic attacks, depression, phobias, anxiety, and many other disorders? Yes, even the strongest Christians are affected by attacks on their mental stability.
Mental illness is very prevalent in today’s world. Statistically, 1 in 5 individuals are struggling with mental illness every year – and of those affected by mental illnesses, some are in our churches and pulpits.
Unfortunately for Christians, going to our elder or pastor to ask for help has not always been easy. Fortunately, the Bible explores mental illness and provides guidance. The Word clears up myths around the stigmas associated with mental illness and reveals the power of God to deliver.
Sound Minds Are Under Mental Health Attack
Our playbook talks about fear. David expressed his own feelings of anxiety on several occasions. Psalm 34:4 tells us that he looked to the Lord and He answered David and delivered him from his anxieties and fears. This is one of many examples that we are not alone – the Bible shows us how our brothers and sisters experience struggles with fears and anxiety.
More specifically, the book of Psalms provides us with methods for addressing fear. Our questions about fear are answered by our Father – He promises and performs miracles. However, because of how overwhelming anxiety can be at times, God’s presence and power go unseen.
You see, it is when we feel we are at our breaking point that the enemy seizes an opportunity to step in and exploit our feelings in a way which causes us to question our mental stability.
What Role Does Medication Play for Christians Dealing with Mental Health Issues
Yes, medical experts believe that chemical imbalance is the root of mental ailments. In these instances, healthcare professionals prescribe medications to counter the imbalance associated with the psychosis – similar to how medication is prescribed to regulate high blood pressure and other ailments.
As Christians, many times we are told, “Do not take mental health medication.” Why? Because it is a sin?
This is not true. As we know, God has blessed each one of His children with gifts. Amid those gifts, He created people who have the knowledge and skill to help the mind’s healing process.
However, there is a difference between the use of medicine for healing and reliance on medicine for daily living. When it’s all said and done, we all experience mental challenges at some point in our lives, and in those moments, we must always remember to recognize that God is our Powerful Physician. He holds the complete power to heal (John 4:14).
How does medicine play into God’s healing?
God has molded healthcare professionals, chemists, and other professionals to help support Him in His works. Perhaps you could see healthcare professionals as God’s disciples, helping Him to bring healing works to life in His name. Christians and churches must recognize and respond to mental illness with hope, love, and compassion – this is what God has tasked us to do.
Medicine was created to support the body’s healing process – but it should not become a lifestyle or source of addiction. When we face obstacles and attacks in our lives, we must look to God first and foremost for our healing as He is our Physician. The medicine prescribed to treat mental illness helps those who experience mental attacks to deal with the root cause of fear. On some occasions, medicine is often taken by some to avoid dealing with the true cause of their ailment. They are not receptive to God’s healing, but rather place medicine above our Father’s healing power.
God is Still Greater
While we are going through seasons of depressions and anxiety, we must seek the Lord’s hand to hold and bring us through. In Matthew 7:7-8, the passage says for everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. It is our responsibility to know that God heals and man (healthcare providers) is here to co-labor with God for those who need help.
It is not our responsibility to depend solely on humankind, but instead, recognize that it is not a sin to see healthcare professionals, therapists, or use medicines. Never forget in the end that God is our Healer for any type of sickness.
SO, WHATS THE PLAY CALL?
We must understand that mental health issues are real, and it is common to experience them.
Don’t be embarrassed if you have a bout with mental health issues – you are not alone. In 2 Timothy 1:7, the Bible tells us four things about mental health, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.”
Here are 10 tips on how to deal with issues of the mind when it comes to yourself and others:
- Remember, mental illness is not the end of the story. It is a season, and in that season you have God loving you to victory.
- Pray for strengthened mental health.
- If you have been prescribed medication, use it as a tool, but not as a source of power. God’s disciple has equipped you with directions – use only as directed.
- Be thankful. Be humbled. Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might – not yours.
- Pray to God and allow your mental and physical self to be healed by His everlasting grace and power.
- Educate yourself on positive mental health techniques and apply some of those tools to ensure you are mentally whole.
- Educate others – and encourage your churches to speak up about it.
- Understand that mental health is real and lives are destroyed when we look away. Lend a helping hand and uplift the downtrodden.
- Be a vessel of awareness and help break the stigmas that have grown rampant around the subject of mental illness.
- Show authentic love – not judgment – to those who are affected by mental illness.