What does the bible say about mental health and what we can learn from it?
When we read the scriptures, we see that God does not speak of mental health with psychological terms, but instead speaks of life issues and generalized narratives. He speaks of the renewal of our mind because its in the mind that we fight our greatest battles.
When we are depressed, we act depressed because we feel depressed, and we feel depressed due to the thoughts that continue to replay in our minds. It’s our thoughts that produce feelings, and our feelings feed our behavior.
Refocus. Romans 12:2, “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 God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
If what you feel is determined by your thoughts, then you must renew your thoughts. How do you replace your thoughts? By shifting your focus onto God’s will which is good, pleasing and perfect. Establish a practical faith by redirecting your thoughts away from things that will drive negative impulses.
Fear. When your thoughts are dominated by fear, you become paralyzed. Fear stops you from achieving your goals and removes your ability to move forward. Let’s look at what scripture says about what we can do when we feel fear. Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Hopelessness. When someone feels hopeless, he/she is unable to see a solution to a problem. We experience despair when we realize that we aren’t in control over our circumstances that don’t show signs of positive change. The word of God directs us to remove hope from our situations and our abilities and place that hope in God. Trust in God. Isaiah 40:31, “
Bitterness. You become bitter when you suffer injustices, envy, and lack of unforgiveness. It’s a poison that will spread and will rob you of joy.
Insecurity. When you’re insecure, you stumble upon yourself, and you feel like you stand on quicksand. You become anxious. And what does the bible advise us to do with our anxiety? Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” We must rely on prayer and supplication. We must choose to think about the things we are thankful for because heart that contains gratitude develops confidence.
We learn from scripture that our greatest source of help lies in the following verses. Romans 7:24-25, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ, our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”
Biblically it is Jesus the only one that can transform our nature, our thoughts and give us the strength to govern our mind. When we give our lives to Jesus, we adopt a new nature. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” What does this mean? Despite our sinful nature Jesus now is within us, and we are given the power through him to be transformed.
What can we learn about mental health through the Christian faith? We learn two things.
- External Remedies. Nothing external can transform our hearts. No matter how hard we work on changing our behavior if those changes are founded on will power alone, then we’ll always revert to our old ways. There is no seminar, no pill, no self-help resource that can change the nature of one’s heart, only Jesus.
- Go through it. If you feel pain, anxiety, fear, insecurity, hopelessness, and shame, the more you resist those emotions, the more they will dominate you. Do not resist emotions; instead get through them. Get through every wave of your feelings and each time those rough waves hit the surface of your consciousness the word directs us to do the following.
- Cast all your anxiety on God. (1 Peter 5:7)
- Set your mind on the Spirit life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
- Speak pleasant words for they’re sweet healing to the soul. (Proverbs 16:24)
- God is the source of peace, so seek for him. (John 14:27)
- Always turn to prayer in supplication. (Philippians 4:6-7)