Heaven Help Us: Mental Health and Faith

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

—1 Peter 5:6-7 

Many of us struggle with mental health. Yesterday, I checked out for a mental health day. I did not talk to anyone all day, nor did I want to. I had some things on my mind and a terrible migraine. The Bible does not specifically refer to mental health; however, it speaks a lot about a person’s emotions, mind, soul, and heart. Mental health is an extremely important topic that all people need to be familiar with today. In the past, primitive beliefs often taught that mental problems were directly related to Satan and were the result of demonic possession. Many people struggle with mental health problems today, but this does not mean we are possessed or are not good Christians.

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. My mental health issues are always associated with anxiety and depression. There is a myriad of mental health issues out there, including 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 Christians, 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. John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The individual’s body and mind are both factors of a person’s mental health. If a person’s mind and body are having difficulties, a person’s mental state will suffer as well. Elijah was a prophet who struggled with suicidal thoughts during a difficult time in his life. In 1 Kings 19:4, we learn about Elijah’s struggle, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’” God did not take Elijah’s life but rather gave him the strength to keep going. We can see that God helped  in 1 Kings 19:5-8:

Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.

After Elijah had slept and eaten, he was ready to continue with the work of the Lord. Sleeping and eating are certainly not a cure for suicidal thoughts or any mental illness, but a good night’s sleep and a good meal can help to relax us, mind, body, and soul. If a Christian is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they need to seek out medical help, therapy, and most importantly, pray to God about their feelings. There is nothing wrong with seeking help from doctors, therapists, or counselors. God has placed professional doctors, therapists, and counselors in their positions for a reason.

Anxiety is a common thing people struggle with. The Bible does specifically talk about anxiety as 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” God wants us to give Him all our worries, cares, and concerns. Philippians 4:6-7 also talks about anxiety, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Whenever you are struggling with anxiety or fear, pray to God. He can help you let go of anxiety and will give you strength. God is always faithful, and you can always depend on Him. Only Jesus gives the true peace that surpasses all understanding.

Depression is very common and can be caused by genetics, internal conflicts, or a person’s environment. God walks alongside us as we struggle with depression. David writes in Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” God is always with us — no matter where we find ourselves today or any day in the future.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3-4)

No matter our issues, God can help us. He may send us the people we need to help us or direct us in a way that we can help ourselves. There is an old saying, though not a Bible verse like many think, that says, “God helps those who help themselves.” Yes, he does help those who help themselves, but depression, anxiety, and any number of mental illnesses can paralyze us. We may not be able to help ourselves, and that’s when God comes in. He will provide us with the help we need, but we need to be receptive to it. When things seem bleak, try to remember that God loves us and wants the best for us. All we have to do is believe.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

One response to “Heaven Help Us: Mental Health and Faith

  • Steve

    Tremendous article and thanks so much for your reminder of this significant need and challenge. Our mental health, especially in these days of turmoil, make our well-being even more critical. I’m glad you took time to take care of yourself and to remind us to do that as well.

Thank you for commenting. I always want to know what you have to say. However, I have a few rules: 1. Always be kind and considerate to others. 2. Do not degrade other people's way of thinking. 3. I have the right to refuse or remove any comment I deem inappropriate. 4. If you comment on a post that was published over 14 days ago, it will not post immediately. Those comments are set for moderation. If it doesn't break the above rules, it will post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: