Mental Illness and the Christian

thinking environment depressed depression
Rainy days and Mondays

Have you ever heard that Christians are not supposed to get depressed? That somehow being a Christian should protect us from mental illness? This is not true, yet this falsehood persists among well-meaning Christians. Why is this? 

A depressed Christian does not fit the image of a model Christian, one full of joy and hope. It is thought that someone who is depressed is lacking in faith and weak in prayer. Therefore, these conclusions are drawn about a depressed Christian:

This person is not a real Christian
This person is not a mature Christian
This person is not a victorious Christian

To discover the truth of the matter consider this. Would the same conclusion be drawn of a Christian who had cancer? Heart disease? MS? Dementia? No, of course not. Why?

Mental illness is a disease, just like any other disease, but it is a disease of the mind. The mind/heart/soul is where our joy, hope, faith reside. Consequently, incorrect conclusions have been drawn about mental illness.

For instance, mistaken Christians will suggest that prayer and faith are a substitute for medication. Saying this does more harm than good. Prayer is a good supplement for treating mental illness but it is not a substitute.

Incorrect conclusions about mental illness is not only a Christian problem. When a person is depressed the implication is, they could help themselves if only they tried a little harder. They are told:

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!
Get over yourself!
Pull yourself together!

This kind of talk keeps the depressed person suffering in silence and isolated from help. It heaps shame and guilt onto a person already depressed. Furthermore, it shows the ignorance of the one saying these things.

There are many types of mental illnesses. The 5 most common are depression, anxiety, bi-polar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, and dementia. Depression impacts an estimated 300 million people, affecting more women than men.

When someone is mentally ill the chemicals in their brain are not working correctly. The person is not thinking or acting as they would if their brain was healthy. They may seem a mere image of themselves: saying, thinking, feeling and doing things not typical for them.

To make things proportionate, one must have a healthy mind to be compared with someone already healthy. In other words, do not judge someone with mental illness as you would someone without. Just as you would not ask someone with a weak heart to run a mile, do not expect those who are depressed to be full of joy and hope. This just isn’t going to happen. First treat the illness.

Up Next: Help! I’m Depressed — Treating the Illness

Related: My Mental Illness

End Notes:
You can’t pray it away
The top five most common mental illness How depression effects the brain

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health care worker or physician. I have tried to be factually accurate. 

© 2019 Lena Rae

Published by

Lena Rae

I love Jesus! He is my eternal hope, fullness of joy, calm in the storm and so much more. I enjoy reading, cooking, blogging and bird watching. I have two wonderful kids and a loving husband. God is good.

8 thoughts on “Mental Illness and the Christian”

  1. Medical science and practices are another example of God’s healing and grace. Treatment and prayer make a perfect team. Depression, like many ailments, physical and emotional, makes prayer extremely difficult for some individuals. In such cases, other Christians experiencing the gift of good health are called to prayer for those suffering, not ridicule. God bless you for your candor and courage.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have heard that, usually from Word of Faith preachers, which I no longer listen to. From what I’ve seen, they are either vague on this topic, or attribute any illness (be it depression or cancer) to lack of faith– which, I must say, is quite a cruel thing to do.

    Ultimately, thinking Christians are supposed to be 100% healthy is not Biblical.

    The way I’ve seen this thinking “work,” is by first of all, skipping ALL of the book of Job and ignoring ALL of Paul’s sufferings. Then, you zoom in on Jeremiah 29:11, without looking at Jeremiah 29:10-15… or anything else in the Bible, really. That’s how I’ve seen this way of thinking be defended.

    But nowhere in the Bible are we promised great health always, and that includes mental illness. This was an excellent post, Ms. Lena Rae 🙂 I’m glad I found it on your sidebar!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wrote this post two years ago. It still resonates with people. Thank you for your comments!
      I wrote out of grave concerned for those of us who are mentally ill and are taken in by lies that do more harm than good. We are told that we could fix things if we had more faith, read our Bible and prayed. I have heard Christian pastors and teachers who say these things make things worse. People who believe these untruths do not get the medical attention they need.
      I agree with your conclusions 100%. A thinking Christian would consider the scripture you brought up. A non-thinking Christian ignores them. God never promised us a rose garden. But He did promise to walk with us through whatever we face be it poor health, poor finances, poor circumstances. Thank you Jarillissima! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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