• Taking medication in the midst of mental illness doesn’t show a lack of faith in the ability of the Lord to sustain us through the suffering. Rather, it may allow some to experience God with more clarity. (Austin Maddox )
  • God wants His children to be healthy in every area of their lives — emotionally, spiritually, and physically (Rick Warren)
  • Hope is not defined by the absence of hardship. Rather, hope is found in God’s grace in the midst of hardship. Hope is found in his promise to give us a future (Stuart Scot)
  • I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silent hurt more (C. S. Lewis)

Text: Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit

For several weeks, months that add up to years, I have sensed the need to point out the importance of addressing the Christian attitude to the issues that touch on the mind.  May I declare that I am an outsider in regard to medical and psychological issues. As a body of Christ there may be a need to realise that we have a lot of growing to do when it comes to understanding the multi-causal influences on mental illnesses. While we are in this world and in the body, I am told that there are diverse challenges that include chemical imbalance in the brain that cause mental health conditions. The testimony of those who have held on to their faith in the Living God is that they have experienced a deeper level of dependence on God than they could have fathomed. There is a need to understand the interconnectedness of body, soul and spirit and in particular the mind which is one’s greatest asset and the greatest battleground. Jesus Christ’s prayer ‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one’ (John 17:15). To be in the world requires consciousness of being in spiritual warfare and so one needs to be equipped. Just like any part of the body can be sick, so is the mind. The submission or commitment to Christ does not exempt one from the struggle of mental illness. In addition, being a Christian makes you the safe person to go to when a person is needing to open up and share struggles that arise from a mentally ill disposition.


The biopsychosocial model of mental health offers a more comprehensive approach to understanding mental health by describing how biological, psychological and social factors interact to influence mental health and mental illness.

Biological factors – these include genetics, neurochemical imbalances, other physical illnesses and the effect of drugs and medications.

Psychological factors – these include the individual’s personality, coping skills, self-esteem, thinking patterns, behaviours and personal experiences.

Social factors – these include family relationships and dynamics, peer relationships, environmental and cultural factors like poverty, inequality, discrimination, war, among others.

Whatever the cause of the mental ill disposition, it leaves individuals unable to have good judgment and bears heavy responsibility on those they depend in addition to those who need their service. Mental health issues are complex, and our human nature is also complex. The complexity includes memory loss and issues of eternity. That is why using just one small segment of Scripture as an explanation for suffering can be misleading and harmful. God who knows us and all the complexes that we face listens to our cry and is truly near the broken hearted.


The assumption that Christians are God’s chosen people and so should be exempt from diseases – Such diseases are for those who violate God’s covenant. ‘If you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you . . . The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind.’ (Deuteronomy 28:15, 28). This may explain the thinking supporting the question Jesus was asked by the disciples. ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1). When mental illness is not taken as a reality, isolation and loneliness is reinforced, sending a message that God offers no help or hope.

Refusal to examine environmental triggers – The cultural beliefs of a people influence the meanings attached to mental disorder, the possible causes and what action to take. Unrealistic societal goals that shrink possibilities of achievement cause strain which could result in inaccessibility to economic resources and opportunities, unhealthy sense of self among others. Exclusion from what is regarded as success, loneliness, inability to make ends meet, are possible triggers to the illness.

What culture allows for discussion in their conversations – People who are highly sensitive and careful with what is discussed make it difficult for people to explore and discuss their feelings.  That means there is no ventilation and that weakens coping skills. Respect can mean not talking to those older than you or of different gender and so isolation and loneliness occurs, which can incubate the disorders. When failing to address mental illness as reality, we reinforce loneliness and marginalization and send a message that God offers no help or hope.

Ignorance – Some people are not able to tell what is beyond their knowledge and so they suggest prayer or more faith in what may need specialized knowledge. For the Christians to fail to have conversations around this makes many believe that faith has nothing to offer in certain illnesses.  To make people who are sick or are their relatives feel rejected by God, lonely because no one understands them is not right.


Chemical imbalance and mental disease that affects the brain cuts right into the way people view themselves, God and others including Christians. It is not easy to escape cultural beliefs about the sickness of the organ that affects the brain’s chemistry. The communication between the nerve cells is disrupted and that makes predictability of actions unsure. If you live long enough, you will have a friend, a relative or yourself battling with ill disposition of the mind. Some prevalent thoughts include rejection by God. There are often hidden beliefs that include stigma from a community who believe that there is a curse or punishment for violating God’s covenant (Deuteronomy 28:28) or punishment like that of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:32-34),

When the possibility of being productive is threatened, the individual and the family and friends in different ways get into a space where they feel alone, worthless, isolated, unable to realize their aspiration or keep pace with others.  What makes it worse is the silence and so one has to struggle to act normal. Speaking up or conversing on the challenges is likely to make one be ostracised.

There are other times when the dynamism of life makes those who do not fit in the societal norms be mistaken to have mental disorder. That happened to Jesus Christ when his mother and brothers were convinced that his behavior was a sign of mental sickness (Mark 3:21; John 10:20). Even Festus thought Paul who was so clear about the gospel was out of his mind (Acts 26: 24-25).

The believers view of their pastors – The human mind would hope that those in pastoral roles have specialised treatment by God. So, when they experience the same challenges that others go through, the believers do not know how to encourage them. Ronald Dunn was a church minister whose teenage son commit suicide due to chemical imbalance. As he continued to pastor and encourage others, he had his one pain wearing him down, ‘looming in his mind was coming home to difficult circumstances relating to the children and their bipolar issues, which had escalated with time. He had been wounded by the seemingly daily chaos brought about by this painful mental disorder and chemical imbalance. (Surviving Friendly Fire: How to Respond When You’ve Been Hurt by Someone You Trust by Ronald Dunn (2001).


Look out for those hurting because of being sick or their loved ones are. Do not make them hide in fear of further rejection and so get more helpless. What every Christian should know is that ‘God sometimes heals physical and mental disorders supernaturally. This includes mental illnesses, such as panic attacks, depression. But…not always. Sometimes the Lord treats it through medication and treatments. The medication that has been made through His creation, the medication that has been made through the raw materials He created. The medication that He has given mere man the wisdom to create; The treatment that He gave man the wisdom to develop. Sometimes demons are involved in mental illness, but not always’ (Kanayo Dike-Oduah).

Know self – When people get into difficulties that knowledge, money and known skills cannot help, they look up to supernatural power, either God or witchcraft. Clarity of who one is and who God is matters. To be rooted in Christ is what gives one an anchor that others can confide in you, and it is okay. Know the word of God, and the option of prayer. Be a good listener, who is able to read the signals and assign appropriate meaning.

Know the word of God– Cheap, superficial faith may be bulldozed by the everyday realities and so be irrelevant. Culturally constructed theology is dangerous and causes a lot of pain and confusion such as seed planting, tithing as a way of gaining God’s favor etc. There is no promise of a life that exempts some organs of the body from getting sick.  It is important to note Jesus’ response was ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’.

Be informed– Basic skills in psychology may help to know what is outside your knowledge and what counsel to give. Charles Spurgeon’s testimony is “I find myself frequently depressed – perhaps more so than any other person here. And I find no better cure for that depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart and seek to realize afresh the power of the peace-speaking blood of Jesus, and His infinite love in dying upon the cross to put away all my transgressions.”  It is also important to distinguish between demonic attacks that need casting out and mental illness.

Engage – In the beginning, God gave human beings the task of dominating creation. They were also put in a garden meaning that societal goals matter. The economics and commerce of a people are ‘ministry’; otherwise, how do you explain Jesus feeding thousands of people with fish and bread? Encourage conversations that examine unrealistic expectations and possible ways of escape. Be in the world as part of your community with divine appointment. Visit those who are caregivers who receive the outburst and have to remain steadfast. They need fellowship and encouragement from people who care.

How God shows His care vary from person to person, case by case. Call on Him like the Psalmist did. ‘When my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the rock that is higher than I’ (Psalm 61:2. The Lord whose ways are not our ways could use a therapist, access to medical help, a good support system, a moment-by-moment reliance on Him or all of the above.  has used people.  Loving God with our minds can mean careful listening and following the instructions regarding your loved one. Christians are exclusive disciples of Jesus Christ who serve in various stations in this life and the Lord is a very Present help. Wherever you are, mimic Jesus Christ, who when walking on the face of the earth paid attention to those the society would ignore. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverbs 18:24). Even when we are at our loneliest and feel we have hit rock bottom emotionally, God has not abandoned us. He is with us each and every day. Mental illness can make us feel lonely and isolated.  No one was unworthy of Jesus’ attention, or too sick or demonized for his attention. Rick Warren encouraged Christians to view mental illness like any medical illness: ‘If a bird has a broken wing, you could just believe IT could fly, but it isn’t going to fly, if your neurons aren’t working right, then you go get help, and actually mental, physical, spiritual and relational illness often all go together.’ Though our natural inclination is for the circumstances to be different, and particularly changed for our comfort, allow God to use the situation for his glory. For the Christians who are caregivers, remember that it is during trying times and difficulties that growth takes place. It is when going through a dark moment in life, when it feels like one is in an endless tunnel, that one learns to trust God whose presence is assured. It is time to forgive, persevere, and wait on the Lord for renewing of strength. Take time for self-growth and replenishment and refuse to allow your mind to stay on the challenges of the moment. Do not allow the experiences that are negative make you view yourself as failure or unworthy of God’s use and love.  The purpose of this write up is to encourage us to converse. How is your community of believers educating themselves concerning mental health?

This should be the motto for every follower of Jesus Christ: Never stop praying, no matter how dark and hopeless it may seem’ (Billy Graham)