During this pandemic, many people are finding their mental health issues increasing because of staying inside and having less contact with those outside their immediate circle. While the Bible is not a book that describes all our mental health symptoms, we can certainly find examples of these illnesses in the stories included in its pages.
While Saul was still King of Israel and David was only a teenager, the prophet Samuel anointed David to be the successor to Saul. Even though David served the king and refused to kill him when he found the king helplessly asleep, he waited his time to be crowned. Indications from Saul’s behavior may reflect his suffering from manic-depressive syndromes, anxiety and depression. David’s harp playing for the king appeared to be a soothing respite for some of Saul’s symptoms.
Paranoia or fear is often dealt with in Scripture as well. On one occasion when a member of his congregation described his symptoms of paranoia, D.L. Moody was said to have given the man this “help.” “You don’t need to be afraid because of the people following you. Introduce yourself to David’s friends, ‘Goodness and Mercy’ who follow all the days of your life!”
I am not sure of the veracity of that account, but there are times when we give Biblical formulas too easily to fearful friends.
There are so many more solid foundations for dealing with our fears! One of the most reassuring messages of the Bible is often recorded when an angel appears and simply announces, “Fear not!” The surprises of hearing from an angel can be reinforced by more direct words of comfort about God’s love for us. Perhaps the most soothing words Jesus spoke were, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Let’s not suggest that knowing one verse of Scripture will heal all human mental conditions. However, those who discover the teachings and comfort of Scripture very often find direction and peace in the trials life brings them.
Taking a stroll with David’s two friends — Goodness and Mercy — might seem too simplistic. However, we find strength and hope in a variety of ways: physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual elements intertwine in our daily mental balance.
Prayer — sometimes called meditation — can be a great resource in our daily choices and direction. As one of my friends reminded me not long ago, prayer is the greatest wireless connection we have.
In the stress of this unpredictable world, whatever brings you comfort and peace will be helpful. The bottom line is that God is in charge of our world. Like a sheep dependent on its shepherd, David’s words comfort us: “I will not be afraid, for you are close to me.”
Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, “Living Without Limits,” was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.