Could you discuss mental health? I’ve known many people to have struggled with things like depression , anxiety, suicidal thoughts, ADHD, etc., and many Pentecostal Christian books that touch on mental health are from the standpoint of it all originating/derived from the spirit of fear or something spiritual in nature. To treat it- you must deal with the literal spirit. Have you seen much success in helping people like this? Do you ever recommend “worldly” treatments ie. mood stabilizers or trauma therapy? How can we help our Christian brothers and sisters who are struggling?
Romans 12:2 (NASB)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Let me first say that if you or someone you know is dealing with the above issues, they need to seek help immediately and refuse to stop until they get it. Mental health is nothing to ignore, it must be dealt with.
I am extremely acquainted with troubles that are commonly considered mental in nature. I suffered from extreme depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for many years, saw many counselors and psychiatrists, and was even hospitalized as well as being heavily medicated for these things. I say that to point out that when I speak about this stuff, I speak from first hand experience. I can also say that I have been completely delivered from it, and I will get more into that later.
There are many different reasons that a person can deal with various mental disorders. That being so, to think there is one particular way to fix the issue would be in error. As with anything that affects us, only when one understands the nature of the problem can they be equipped to fix it. For example, I have seen people struggle with some kind of attack that they pray for help with and don’t seem to get any help. But then they have their problem answered in a service they failed to attend or in their refusal to do what the Word says. In these cases, prayer would not be the answer but following instruction would be. It’s like having a GPS giving you directions, you refuse to follow them, then complain to Garmin that their product doesn’t work. The complaint will never solve the issue.
When it comes to mental issues, there has to be a careful look at the why behind them. For that, I can only answer these questions generically. Many different things can cause many different things and therefore the truth needs to be sought out. One can rarely do this on their own which is why I suggest seeking help.
In dealing with my own issues, the problem was mostly spiritual in nature. No amount of counseling or medicine changed the problems, they were always there. Depression and anxiety would settle on me like a blanket and rationalizing could not remove it. Medication did not remove it. What I found was the importance of the scripture I started this with in Romans. My mind needed to be renewed. I needed to think like God wanted me to think. As I sat for years under a pastor teaching me the Word, and allowed it to sink in and change me, I became equipped to deal with each issue. I have found there was no better help than the Word for me, and it has kept me free.
Now when I say kept me free I do not mean that I am never tried with depression anymore. Recently my wife and I were discussing these things. Because I have a certain type of personality, I will always be susceptible to depression. For the strengths that are in any given personality, the devil will attempt to manipulate it into a weakness. With my personality type, depression and anxiety can be the weakness. I have to stay renewed in my thinking or I will slip into depression. If I do slip, then I renew my mind and I come back out of it. In these cases, I don’t need counsel (other than Godly counsel of the Word) and I don’t need medicine. Therefore you see, I can rightfully claim I am free.
There are however, other types of mental illnesses that go deeper in nature. For example, I worked with a young man once who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Believe me, you have to be careful how you work with someone like this. You cannot just start talking to them about the inward witness and the voice of God because they often have chemical imbalances that make them hear voices that are not God. Could this be demonic or spiritual? Of course it can but it could also be something wrong with their internal wiring. In these cases it would be no different than another disease. Things like cancer can’t just be warm wished or thought away, they need supernatural healing. In such cases, the best thing may be to start on medication and then be monitored very closely. Again though, I stress each situation is different and great care has to be taken for treatment.
Something’s that people think are mental problems or weaknesses are actually great blessings. I know of a wonderful Bible scholar for example that has been diagnosed with Asperger‘s syndrome. Although it makes him very socially awkward (and that was self admitted), it also makes Him be able to see things in the Word others couldn’t immediately see. As a result, he has brought a lot of balance to things in scripture that others just couldn’t previously see. This man in particular has a wonderful wife who has worked with him to make him more effective when he speaks to people, balancing out this so-called disease. He mainly does lectures on apologetics and is a great asset to the Body of Christ despite his perceived “disability”. Here he has learned to work with this amazing gift, though normally things of this nature often go misunderstood. I am not implying that all people diagnosed with Asperger’s have it as a gift, but here is at least one case where it is.
These are several different scenarios all with different outcomes and directions. If we tried to lump them all in one category, with one answer, we would certainly miss some important things. Most of our society is built with one generalized teaching method and our churches are much the same. The truth is, God loves variety and He loves human quirkiness. He loves doing things through methods that boggle our minds and if we are quick to jump on any one idea, this is where we can miss it. I am convinced this is why we have so many Christian denominations. Not because one knows more than the other but because each has a part of the truth.
I have given a very brief overview as this question could not possibly be answered in one sitting. As with anything in the Bible, the more open we are to God’s truth and not man’s, the more able we will be to learn from Him. Surely fear can be a cause, but the cause can also be as simple as not following basic instructions, or at times, not seeking professional help. I have come to realize that anxiety isn’t always bad. I believe it is a warning sign to us that if we heed it, we can quickly get back on track. However, anxiety manipulated becomes irrational fear, and this is not God’s will.
God’s Word is as practical as it is supernatural. Many people who embrace the supernatural reject the natural, forgetting God is the One who made both. He loves the natural, He created it. He has never instructed us to forget about it, but rather to reject the wrongful manipulation of it. God designed our emotions to experience life, never to guide it. The devil loves to manipulate emotions and lead people astray. If we know this we can use them effectively and not be coerced into wrong thinking. The closer we stick to the Word, the more we we will be able to determine what is Godly and what is not. Not because man thinks it, but because God has declared it!