How to determine when a problem is spiritual and when a problem is mental?

(Kier Delambaca) #1

Hi everyone,
I need your insights regarding this issue.

Help With Doubt and Fear
(Keldon Scott) #2

Some context would be helpful. Can the problem be addressed Biblically? If so, I would rely on that. If the problem cannot be addressed biblically, then pouring into the circumstances may very well provide guidance that is difficult in a vacuum. God bless your query and your path.

(SeanO) #3

@kmdelambaca Great question. I think we need to be careful not to make this an either / or issue. We can have struggles that are simultaneously both spiritual and mental. For example, depression may be the result of lies that we have believed about ourselves - that is a mental problem, but it can also be addressed by the truth that is in Scripture. At the same time, there could be a chemical imbalance involved that requires medication. The lie needs to be addressed with the truth of God’s Word and the chemical imbalance, if present, needs to be addressed via medication or lifestyle change.

Personally, if I am struggling with an issue I think through a list of possible causes and try to diagnose it:

  • what is the source of my confusion / frustration?
  • am I physically exhausted? Do I just need to get more rest? Do I need to get more exercise? Do I need to eat healthier?
  • am I believing a lie? What truth in God’s Word addresses that lie?
  • is there some negative influence I am allowing into my mind that needs to be eliminated? Am I meditating only on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable (Phil 4:8)?
  • what godly person do I know who could give me wise council on this particular issue? Who do I trust that I could talk through this issue with?

If you cannot identify the source of the issue even after self-examination and seeking godly council, then it might be time to consider a Christian counselor.

Below is a response from @Nathan_Rittenhouse about this balance and also some resources on how a Christian should think through depression, which is one example of a mental / spiritual issue.

Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

Hello Indra, I think that Christianity has a lot to offer here because we see humans as both physical and spiritual creatures. The intersections of those features are complex and that is part of the beauty of who we are. That being said, proper medication can be a tremendous blessing in our lives just as stitches are a huge help when you need them. Christians have historically been on the forefront of medical research and care because we believe that God has given us the capability to love others and work to restore strength to weakness, order to chaos, and salvation to brokenness. Choosing to use the available help for mental health issues is in no way different from choosing you use a cast for a broken leg. On the other hand, as Christians that realize the spiritual side of our lives, we don’t rely purely on medication to solve all of our problems. We need each other, and we need spiritual care and comfort. The short answer to your question, and my opinion, is that is that both are necessary and that to neglect or prioritize one is a failure to take into account the fullness of who God made us to be. Thanks for a good question ~ Nathan

Resources on Mental Health?
(Matt Western) #4

I enjoy listing to podcast ‘Exploring My Strange Bible’ and the latest episode is called Panic Attack, and Tim Mackie suggests that what Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane was a panic attack.

I haven’t had a chance to go and read the passage again after listening to this message, but I was encouraged and reminded of the verse in Hebrews 4:15 that says Jesus knows and has been through everything (and so much more) we go through and understands us.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.