Mind the Stigma

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“Let us make man in our image and likeness…” Genesis 1 verse 26 tells us that God, being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, made us be bearers of Himself in spirit, body and mind. We are indeed His creation and whist we are on the subject of the mind, let’s take time to talk about mental illness for a bit.

Mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s behaviour or thinking. It’s cause ranges from various environmental and psychological things. Some Environmental factors consist of death, divorce, dysfunctional family life and even social or cultural expectations. There are even cases of prenatal problems causing mental issues due to a defect in the fetus’ development in the womb. Some psychological factors may include varying forms of abuse, neglect, poor ability to relate to others or even long term substance abuse.

This sounds like a lot, and yes we are definitely a long way from the good human beings God created in Genesis 1 verse 31 when He said it was “very good”. It would be nice to think that it’s something that we will never experience. However, in this fallen world, 1 in 4 people are affected by mental illness and depression and anxiety are spreading like wildfires. It is then fair to say that no matter who you are, and yes, even Christians “children of God” too can be impacted by mental illness. No one is exempt. Why? Well, sin affects all of us and though we are saved by grace through faith, the Bible reminds us in Matthew 5 verse 45 “…for He makes the sun to rise on the good and on the evil and sends rain on the just and the unjust”. Even the mighty prophet Elijah in 1st Kings 18 fell victim to depression. It describes him in scripture as a great man of God. He was God’s voice to the people. He caused drought and predicted rain and yet he was overcome by fear and what he saw around him. He went as far as running away but God soon helped him out of this state of mind.

With depression and anxiety are rapidly taking over. Many are affected due to stress, other varying causes and pressures of life. With the increase in knowledge and wealth, we see an increase in fear as many worries about being accepted or are fearful of the future. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind” (2nd Timothy 1 verse 7). There is hope for your hurting. Your pain becomes our pain especially as the body of Christ. We can rest assured because we can overcome as we remember that we walk by faith and not by sight (2nd Corinthians 5 verse 7). Scripture also reminds us that our identity is not in this world Acts 17 verse 28 “ in him we live move and have our being…”.

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We all know someone who is struggling with this because it is closer than we think and as time dwindles down it’ll be even closer. Our position as believers in Christ is to never think that we are exempt. If we already know this, we have to fight back. There are ways of combating mental illness. Not everyone is aggressive or incurable or incapable of living a somewhat normal life. In fact, studies have shown it is possible. Be the one to ask questions or lend a helping hand. The best help you can give is a listening ear and your prayers. The believer’s standpoint is one of complete restoration because God is able to do what no man can. In fact, one of His names is Jehovah Rapha which means the God who heals.