"The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me."
I will be bold enough to say that the "man after God's own heart" battled a dark place in his mind. His situation militarily lead him to mentally picture Sheol (the place of the dead) reach up and swallow him. Just like David many of you are in a dark place in your mind. While you try to keep the smile up you feel like you are internally dissolving. 1 in 13 Americans will experience some sort of mental struggle in their life. In 2017 it caused 47,173 people to take their own life. If the church is truly to value life then we must value those who are struggling with holding on to it.
We are complex people. I don’t think we understand how beautiful and elaborate we are as a complete human being. We can easily neglect how important our mind is to who we are. Most of our lives are lived within the realm of the physical world. Our scientific upbringings have outweighed much of the opportunities for us to understand that not everything about us is strictly physical. If God’s Word is true (I believe it is) then we were made in the image of a God that is a complex God that shares what he is like when he made us. He says that he is God in three persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three persons make up the image of God that you and I were made in. Likewise we are a shadow of his greatness in that you are also a triune being (not the same in greatness but an image). We are body, soul, and spirit.
You are more than just a body. If this is true that our physical body needs to do certain actions to stay healthy so our mental and spiritual parts of our being are going to need to do certain actions to stay healthy as well. According to Dr. Matthew S. Stanford we must understand the holistic self and how it operates. He explains:
“Figure 1.1 shows the spiritual, mental, physical, and relational facets of our being, each separate but interacting with the others. Our physical body interacts with stimuli and individuals in the environment outside and the mind within. The mind connected to the body through the functions of the brain and nervous system, is also in contact with our immaterial spirit.”
If Dr. Stanford is correct in the ordering and positioning of the different ways that we function as human beings in our holistic self then pay attention to the foundation of our being in Figure 1.1. The foundation of who you and I are is spiritual and the mental functions of our being are the bridge into our physical understanding. If this is true then our mind is the bridge from our spiritual to our physical understanding. This bridge needs care if we are to live a healthy holistic life.
I hope that you will join us beginning on October 20th as we begin to understand mental health in view of a great God. There are many minds that are in dark and unhealthy places mentally. Some are mental illnesses that need medical attention and some are mental trauma that can be eased with God’s help. Whether it is you or a friend that is struggling with mental health in some way, join us. I guarantee you I don’t have all the answers but we can begin the conversation in light of how God has made us.
Caleb Rawls is the pastor at Pleasant Home Baptist Church located in Laurel Mississippi. He and his wife Taylor work to lead the church to grow closer to Jesus and help others encounter Jesus. They also have a golden-doodle named Tiglath-Pilesar IIII.
Stanford, Matthew. Grace for the Afflicted. Intervarsity Press of Downers Grove IL, 2017. Page 8