This week someone asked a good question related to the Message Series and Soul Care. They asked, "What about people who are clinically depressed? In effect, they were asking, What about people who need medication to bring their mental health into balance?
Soul Care and Mental Health
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Many people on this planet willfully separate themselves from God and resist the path of righteousness He lays out that inevitably would lead them to a healthy soul. They choose not to connect to the great Shepherd of our souls. The joy and peace they seek remain elusive and ultimately impossible to achieve through earthly measures. Freezing out God leaves a person at greater risk for emptiness and feelings of isolation and hopelessness.
However, some anxiety and negative tendencies arise through NO FAULT of our own. DEPRESSION, MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, and DEMON HARASSMENT are just three examples of problems that can be brought upon us without any action of our own. Some people are born with physical maladies. Others are born with mental health battles seemingly intrinsically embedded in their psyche. The little we know about the brain is that it is a complex mixture of chemicals which sometimes are not in the right balance. Two siblings raised identically and have lived very similar lives may have very different emotional issues. Some people battle depression their whole lives and have done nothing different from the person who does not have to chronically fight it. And, I believe, some people are harassed by Satan’s minions who have never been close to occult activities or welcomed their presence.
If you doubt these statements, try a little experiment. Go without a meal and then eat nothing but sugar. You will almost certainly get a sugar high. The normal balance of the brain will be jolted and give you a short-lived boost and then drop you down to a sugar low. Even if you determine to read the Bible and pray the whole time, you will not evade these effects or the chemical imbalance.
Likewise, some people need different forms of medication. I take heart medication. Others take pain medications. And, some need medications to bring a chemical balance to the brain. These medications are not a sin. In this case, they are not needed because someone forgot to care for their soul. As Christians, we must not condemn those who have problems different than our own.
Yet, while I am not anti-medication or against trying to find the right chemical balance in the brain or anywhere else in our bodies, let us never think that a pill can fix our soul. The soul and brain chemistry are two different things.
Interestingly, many Bible heroes battled depression, mental illness, and demon harassment. A close study of David, the great leader of Israel, who had a heart like God’s, struggled regularly with his emotions and feelings of being all alone. Yet, David writes, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Ps 34:18.
It was this same David who writes to us about soul care and restoration in Psalm 23. I believe he knew first-hand about feeling alone and abandoned. He knew first-hand about despair and depression. So, let’s give an ear to his words and hear God saying, ‘come to My table’.