My friend and I had a long conversation after church this Sunday about all that is going on in the world. I came to the conversation feeling torn up, overwhelmed, and guilty. So, my friend sent me this sermon by Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr. Within the first minute of Dr. Baucham’s discussion, I felt more encouraged and empowered than I had all week. He asked, “Is Scripture sufficient for racial reconciliation?” I clapped by myself in the living room. Of course God’s Word was sufficient! As I ruminated on the full sermon later, conviction set in. When it came to mental illness, did I believe Scripture is sufficient?
If I wanted the easy, church-y answer, I would shout, “Of course!” and continue on my day like nothing happened. But what about when the church says anxiety and depression are a sin? What about when the church says to just pray because if you have good enough faith, you won’t struggle with mental illness anymore? Is Scripture sufficient then?
Hidden Healing in the Bible
One of my favorite things about the Bible is learning how God set rules or events in place to protect his people. Some of the Levitical cleanliness laws make no sense to us today. Yet, we now know from research that those rules protected the Israelites from horrible illnesses that had no cure at the time. I mean, Leviticus 14-15 gives several scenarios surrounding diseases where the main command for restoring cleanliness is to take a bath. I think we all know now how important it is to wash our hands!
Just as God set rules in place to protect His people from diseases, He gave us rituals that help mental illness. He gave us music for stress relief, prayer for stability, and community to support one another. Truthfully, the information I learned from psychology only corroborates the practices God established in the Bible. But, I came to Scripture looking for examples from psychology, and not the other way around.
Is Scripture Sufficient for Mental Illness?
While it may have been backward, looking for proof of psychological principles in the Bible ultimately proved the sufficiency of Scripture. I found so many places where the techniques I learned from my therapist showed up as responses propelling forward God’s Kingdom. I also found places where ignoring mental illness and not learning to cope destroyed the lives of many people. (I’m looking at you, King Saul.)
Truthfully, I still believe that God gifted some of His children with an understanding of psychology to help the suffering. After all, without community, we easily convert Scripture into what we want to hear. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, schedule that appointment with a counselor! Try medication if other techniques aren’t working. Let’s just remember that God gave us this gift of healing, so Scripture is absolutely sufficient.