Minding Myself – The Christian’s Mental Health

Dear BPCWA worshipper, This week, we continue on the theme of the mind, though in another aspect. Thus far, we have seen how what fills the mind becomes what we are. One’s character and demeanour are shaped by what one’s mind is like. This means that Christians must be very mindful of the thoughts that fill our minds each day. Certainly, there are many more remedies that God gives to us of how to reign over our minds. We often don’t realise that our minds are a spiritual battleground. But just like in any other battle, we can fight or throw up our hands, surrender, and let ourselves be overrun. If we think we cannot fight the battle, we will give up, and we will succumb in our minds and hence the battle is lost. It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Malady of the mind. Perhaps the greatest maladies attributed to mental health these days are depression, nervous breakdowns, post-traumatic stress disorder, and ADHD. These areas of mental health were reported to have deteriorated during the period of COVID restrictions and isolations when social interactions were limited. Mental health declension can however appear in many other instances, such as when circumstances in life are not what we would naturally like or enjoy. Undeniably, adverse circumstances can and may certainly befall us. These circumstances can be extremely difficult. But it does not mean that we need to respond by getting into a rut and being self-focussed.

Potential causes of mental health issues. Before someone reaches the situation of a medical mental health issue, there are typically stress factors that lead up to and trigger the conditions. For example, the Australian government-funded Health Direct cites, “Underlying health conditions may include depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Life stressors such as divorce or trauma may add to the situation and cause a breakdown. Other factors that may affect mental health and cause a nervous breakdown are: lack of social support, slow build-up of stress, homelessness and unemployment, work, relationships or financial problems, lack of coping skills and resilience. Worry, stress and anxiety can build up over a long period of time. They can reach a point where a person is no longer able to cope or perform their normal daily tasks.” (https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/nervous-breakdown).

Life will have many challenges. The Christian is not spared from the troubles of life in this world, as the Bible tells us “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”(Job 5:7), and “man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). In fact, we may face more of them because we live out our faith, since “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12). The prophet Jeremiah was wrongly imprisoned and even “cast . . . into the dungeon . . . that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire” (Jer 38:6). Living a godly life does not mean that all will be rosy and bright. Satan can bring trouble to deter you. How you respond is important, and that response first begins with your thinking.

The Christian facing great challenges. We must not lose sight of God’s promises when facing the vicissitudes of life mentioned above. God has promised His children that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1Co 10:13). God never puts us in any situation that we must sin or decline to uncontrollable despair. When we sin, it is our own choice, whether consciously or not, that we do so. Knowing that life will be full of challenges that can negatively affect us, what does God remind us to do? As seen earlier, even the world acknowledges that medical depression and many other mental health issues begin with a failure to do what is necessary. This failure causes a downward slide which becomes a downward spiral, and eventually biological damage occurs. A believer can allow this failure to respond rightly in the first place to cause himself damage, just as one can allow himself to take contraband drugs that will damage his mental health too. So, the believer needs to be consciously watching and doing that which is commanded in God’s Word to avoid spiralling downwards. It is like how a patient needs to follow the doctor’s commands to avoid health issues from accumulating and causing greater issues eventually. 

God willing, next week, we shall see what God instructs His child in His Word regarding managing our minds as we go through the inevitable challenges in our lives.  The child of God has solutions provided by the Creator of the mind. Many can allow damage to be done to our lives due to the lack of knowledge and understanding or by neglecting and ignoring what the Great Physician prescribes in the Scriptures for man to function well and be strong even under the stresses of life. The stresses are real and strong, but Christians must remember to turn to God, because it is only through God’s Word “that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:17). When those difficult situations in life come, think rightly. It is not just about practicing the world’s version of “positive thinking”, but it is about thinking Biblically. We have a renewed mind and an indwelling spirit to live above our circumstances which God has sovereignly and lovingly placed in our paths. We need not fall into a malady of our minds because we have a very present and loving God in our lives. God does use medical expertise to help. But sadly, the believer can ignore God and trust only in the world’s expertise and advice.

2Ch 16:12  And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.

Yours in our Lord’s service,