Perspectives on mental health and its treatment can vary within the church, and Christians can get it wrong.
When we fracture a leg, we seek treatment from surgeons, physicians, physiotherapists and medication. So it is with a fractured mind.
When we look at the ‘healing model’ of Christ, we can see that prayer is crucial in the battle. But prayer is not always enough. Reading the Bible and confession are not always enough. It can also take therapy, medication, patience and compassion. Much of this comes through the ‘body’ of the church - that’s us!
God has given us these tools, along with power tools such as the Holy Spirit and scripture - that’s quite a formidable toolbox!
However, as Christians we live in the place of the ‘Overlap’ (where heaven and earth overlap) and God does sometimes choose to break through.
God never leaves people to struggle alone and nor should we, for we are the Body of Christ here in the ‘Overlap’.
How can we, the body, help people?
Reread my ’Dog Blog‘ from February 2018 on listening skills.
Let them know you care and are ready to listen; be sympathetic and empathic.
Provide friendship and understanding, do not judge; accept them as they are.
Encourage them to look after their physical condition with a balanced diet and exercise.
Encourage them to do things they enjoy (or used to enjoy). Hobbies and activities are great distractions and help people to get through hard times.
Stay in touch.
Be patient and be prepared for the long haul.
Help them to apply scripture appropriately, look at its meaning, go into the details, and suck on God’s word like a sweet.
Treat their doubts graciously; Jesus always encouraged those who were searching for the truth.
What Doesn’t Help?
There must be something wrong with you
Read the Bible and be happy
It’s a sin to be depressed
Just pray for God's healing
We encourage by what we say, telling them that God loves them and they are precious. Also, by what we do, by giving them practical help. Try to see them as God sees them and treat them as such.
Remember, we are shepherds and not doctors!
A lovely scripture to lovingly share is Jeremiah 29:11
‘For I know the plans I have for you…to give you a hope and a future’.