While the Bible does not mention the subject of mental health, it does talk a lot about the human mind, emotions, body, and soul.
We should be able to discuss mental health openly today and be informed about it to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm and distress.
Our understanding of mental health has improved dramatically over the years, but it wasn’t always this way.
In the distant past, people believed that mental health problems were caused by Satan and demonic possession, which further stigmatized people struggling with mental health. Of course, we now know this is not true.
Struggling with our mental health is something we all can experience in our lives and something many people struggle with daily. This does not mean they are possessed, and this does not mean there is no hope for them.
Let’s look at what the bible says about three broad areas of mental health – depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
The Story of Elijah
During a dark patch in his life, Elijah was a prophet who struggled with suicidal thoughts.
“While he went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” 1 Kings 19:4.
But instead of granting Elijah’s tragic wish, God renewed his strength. He helped Elijah by giving him a good meal and letting him rest. When Elijah awoke, he was ready to continue with God’s work.
Of course, overcoming suicidal thoughts is not as easy as just taking a nap or having a good meal. But the message here is that God saw Elijah struggling, wishing for his life to end, and he gave Elijah the resources to keep going.
He reminded Elijah just how valuable his life was.
If a Christian is dealing with suicidal thoughts, seeking medical help such as making an appointment with the doctor or speaking to a counselor or therapist is crucial.
After all, God has placed these people in the medical profession for a reason. They are there to help those in need.
The Bible And Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues, and many of us will struggle with it at some point in our lives.
Being diagnosed with depression does not devalue you as a person or compromise your Christian faith. This goes for all mental illnesses.
Various factors can cause depression, such as traumatic life events or even genetics. Sometimes it is hard to find God when we are struggling with depression, but He is always there, walking beside us:
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4.
The Bible And Anxiety
Another common mental health struggle is anxiety, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
A medical diagnosis is usually given when anxiety is affecting an individual’s ability to live their life day-to-day. While the Bible makes no specific mention of anxiety, we can gain some insight from the following passage:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.
This means God wants to be a supportive ear to your anxieties and worries. Another enlightening Bible passage that makes mention of anxiety is 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. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
As well as seeking medical treatment if your anxiety affects your ability to live life, know you can always pray to God in times of struggle. He will always be there to listen and give you strength.
Talking about our fears and anxieties to a loved one or a professional takes a massive weight off our shoulders, and the same applies to God.
The Bible And Eating Disorders
While the Bible does not mention eating disorders, we can gain some insight from what the Bible says about looking after your body.
One of the most famous quotes from the bible comes from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, that our bodies are temples. This means that God does not want us to harm our bodies by denying ourselves food, purging food, or excessive exercise.
Another famous Bible quote is from Genesis 1:27, that each individual is made in God’s image. However, eating disorders are often a product of a society that tells us we are not beautiful the way we are, and that there is a sure way to be beautiful.
Typically, by being thin and denying ourselves food that keeps us alive and healthy. But beauty is more than just skin deep; God is more concerned with the beauty of our hearts and souls.
Those suffering from eating disorders are often stigmatized as vain, but this is unfair and untrue. Many people develop eating disorders to regain control in their lives when they feel they no longer have control.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, remember that God made you in his image, and He loves you just the way you are.
He wants you to treat your body with care and love, so please don’t feel ashamed or frightened at the thought of seeking proper help from trained doctors and therapists who specialize in treating eating disorders.
When you are struggling with your mental health, you may feel like there is no hope left, but there is. You can do several things to relieve these feelings, namely, seek help from doctors, therapists, and counselors.
The Bible advises us that we should fill our minds with good things, and in Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul reminds us to focus on positives rather than negatives:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
Whenever you feel anxious or depressed, take a deep breath and focus on everything you have to be grateful for and everything pure, noble, and beautiful in the world.
Reading and reflecting on Bible verses can help to clear your mind and steer your thoughts in a more positive and productive direction, warding off anxious, harmful, or depressing thoughts.
As we have already mentioned, praying to God and telling Him your struggles will give you strength.
Unfortunately, there is stigma around mental illness, and as Christians, we may wonder if our anxiety, depression, or negative body image is a sin. This shame just further compounds our feelings of despair at times like these.
But struggling is not a sin and doesn’t make you less of a Christian. Nobody should feel alone in this life, especially if they struggle with mental illness.
So reach out to your loved ones, reach out to medical professionals, and reach out to God in your time of need.
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