The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. -- Psalm 34: 17-19 (NLT)
No topic seems to divide the Body of Christ more than what the world refers to as "mental illness." In the wake of the suicide of Pastor Rick Warren's son there are renewed calls for the church to do something more in this regard. While we all pray for peace for the Warren family, the calls for more church involvement are on target. I am just concerned about the seeming insistence to ignore the spiritual truths in favor of the paradigm the world wants to use. It seems sometimes as if we cling to the Bible appropriately for everything except the really difficult things and then we ascribe to worldly philosophies and human logic. It simply does not work that way. We either hold onto the Bible through EVERY situation life throws at us or we admit that we allow the world to limit our faith. That means when someone is depressed or anxious or phobic that there are spiritual considerations that must be addressed -- not carnal considerations.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. -- 1Peter 5: 8 (ESV)
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. -- Revelation 12: 9 (ESV)
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. -- Ephesians 6: 10-12 (NLT)
I understand that the world has done a masterful job of turning the devil into some cartoon caricature. Just a mischievous little fellow in a red cape with a pitchfork but the reality is far more serious. Just look at this small sample of verses regarding the enemy to our souls. He is always on the prowl looking for someone he may devour. He has deceived the entire world beloved! He has his minions who were thrown down with him -- in other words he has his own army to use against us. We must realize that we choose spiritual ignorance to our own peril. It doesn't matter if we pay no mind to the devil because he will still be minding us. There is a spirit realm beloved where there are spiritual rulers and principalities whose sole goal is to undermine us. Evil spirits who are bent on our destruction. Mighty powers in this dark world.
I do not say this to frighten anyone because greater is He that is in us then he that is in the world. I say this to equip us. The Bible says specifically that we should not be ignorant to the schemes of the devil. Yet it seems whenever we come up against what the world refers to as "mental illness" -- we drop our faith in the Bible to our sides. What is represented as faith in the armor of God? Our shield! We need our shield to protect us from the fiery darts of the enemy. The funny thing about a shield though is that it is useless unless it is raised. It is at the most severe times in our lives that we need it raised even higher not dropped to our sides in defeat. Then what is it if it is not "mental illness" as the world contends? Demonic attack. It is war in the spirit realm against the spirit God has given us:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -- 2Timothy 1: 7 (NKJV)
We usually focus in this verse on the fact that the spirit of fear is clearly from the devil but what about the description God is giving us here for the Holy Spirit inside of us? I think the world would probably agree that their definition of mental illness starts with the basic premise of an unsound mind. But for us as believers the soundness of our mind stems directly from the Holy Spirit of God living inside of us! Yet we want to capitulate to the world that the problems are not spiritual in nature? That is absurd on its face. The typical symptomology for things such as depression or anxiety are oppositional to the characteristics God gives us here for His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of power while "mental illness" is squarely rooted in powerlessness. Those who suffer from these conditions all report a sense of not being able to control, or have power over, how they feel. The Bible says that fear is actually torment -- the opposite of the Holy Spirit, which is a Spirit of love. Lastly from this verse, the Holy Spirit is one of a sound mind. The Bible tells a story of a man who suffered badly from demonic attack. In fact he was under attack from an entire legion of demons. The Bible says this man lived in the tombs and could break any shackles put on him. It says he would cry out and cut himself night and day. He was the first "cutter" -- a phenomenon prevalent again today amongst many youth in the world. Jesus did not prescribe therapy or medication -- He cast the demons out of him:
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. -- Mark 5: 14-15 (NIV)
Dressed in his right mind! They recognized the unsoundness of mind to be a spiritual issue, which it is. So what is the potential damage for following the logic of this world when it comes to these matters? Very simply put, when you insist that a spiritual problem is actually worldly then you will be logically led to seek carnal solutions. Hear me very clearly -- carnal solutions do not solve spiritual problems. It is like using a band aid when a tourniquet is what is needed.
I have heard the carnal arguments defending using this worldly logic. God creates man and man becomes doctor so therefore God creates doctors. Seven degrees of separation does not change Scripture and the value of it. We cannot sacrifice the power of the Word of God on the altar of human reasoning or science and expect that spiritual problems will be resolved. Judah once had a king named Asa that followed God. As he grew older however, he started to compromise and lean on worldly logic. Here is how the Bible describes his end:
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord , but only from the physicians. Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his ancestors. 2Chronicles 16: 12-13 (NIV)
Does this mean we should not use doctors? Of course not. But why does God make sure this is recorded in His Word? We know He doesn't waste a single letter in Scripture so why is this here? Because Asa didn't seek God at all! He solely relied upon the wisdom of his physicians. And it appears they bought him a couple of years but how much longer might he have lived if he had turned to God instead of man? The New Testament tells us of the woman with the issue of blood. She suffered for 12 years seeking the answers the world had for her and the Bible says her condition did not improve and she spent all of her money chasing these empty worldly solutions. It was not until she touched the hem of Jesus' garment did she receive healing. Once again does this mean we discount medical assistance? No one is advocating that but why do we discount spiritual assistance in seeking medical help? That is the larger point and the answer must be faith related. We come up against something like depression or anxiety and simply do not think God can handle it. Not consciously but by our actions. But look at the key verses today beloved. Do we believe them anymore? Do we only have faith when it is easy? Do we only believe the Word of God when it is convenient?
The key verses start by assuring us that the Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. Are we calling? King Asa did not. The woman with the blood issue waited 12 years. The truth might be that we pay lip service to God when we feel a certain way. We claim to have "tried God" only to still feel sad or anxious. What this cuts to is the heart of the world system for these issues. They treat the symptoms but not the problem. Any honest psychiatrist will admit that they are trying to manage the conditions, not cure them. Therapy is designed to help people cope with their problems. Cope means to live with. Who wants to learn how to live with their problems when there is a God who is willing to heal them? The answer is we do. We would prefer the world system because it requires nothing from us but willing consent and to take a pill. The pill has zero chance of solving the problem and a limited chance to mask the symptoms. Maybe some get lucky and the first medication prescribed abates the symptoms. They are still there of course but buried. The medication then has other effects. The world calls them side effects but the reality is they are PRIMARY effects. They are only called side effects because the manufacturers didn't want them. Take a good listen to that soothing voice over guy at the end of psychotropic medication commercials. Seriously. Is that how God would solve a problem? Of course not. God does not solve problems by creating other problems -- or even worse problems. The key verse says he rescues us from ALL our problems.