There is a particular mental illness called Delusional Disorder. People with Delusional Disorder have either paranoid delusions ( i.e. the CIA is trying to kill me) or delusions of grandeur. It is interesting that many with delusions of grandeur think that they are Jesus. What could be more grand?
Delusional disorder grows out of a deep need to protect yourself from the ugly truth. Grandeur is a response to a feeling of meaninglessness. Paranoia an excuse for your own failures. The prognosis for ever recovering from Delusional Disorder is especially poor. The circuits of reinforcement formed in the brain to support your delusion are often very strong, but with God there is hope. Still, prevention is the better route to go.
Knowing Jesus, understanding what the Bible says about our lives, and living as a disciple are powerful preventative measures against several mental illnesses. I am not saying that a true Christian can’t be mentally ill. Nor am I saying that a mentally ill person can’t be a Christian. I am saying that knowing Jesus properly affirms self-worth, explains and heals all forms of losses, gives hope for the future, releases from guilt, and gives enduring purpose. All of these things help to keep us mentally healthy.
The most common mental illness is depression. While common and having a host of drugs dedicated to its relief, depression can be a stubborn illness to shake. The onset of depression can be physiological (hormonal, etc.) but often grows from unresolved guilt, loss or hopelessness. Knowing Jesus helps us to resolve such things as they happen. This is not to dismiss the addition of other forms of help.
Often a caregiver from a particular discipline will endorse their discipline’s answer to the exclusion of others. For instance, a psychiatrist tries to fix mental illness using drugs, a psychologist uses talk therapy and a pastor might rely on prayer and counseling. I feel that you should use them all. Mental illness can be caused by brain chemistry or result in unhealthy brain chemistry. Medicine can help with this. Brain circuitry can also be the cause or effect and therapy can assist in rewiring. Underlying pain and self-image can be the cause or the effect. Jesus’ mercy, his love, his power can address these things and all of the above. It is not a lack of faith to use them all. It is expecting God to work through multiple means.
How does knowing Jesus help in each of these areas? I will start with loss and continue with guilt, self-worth and hope in my next blog entry.
Loss is a part of life. We should know that and most people do know that, but we often mistakenly believe that loss will never touch us. A loss of a job, destruction or theft of property or the loss of a relationship are examples of loss that can be psychologically damaging.
Knowing Jesus does not make you immune to loss. Jesus helps you to understand that the world is impacted by sin and the curse and therefore loss is to expected. Jesus also allows you to have a “looser grip” on things. You are not as dependent on anything that you can lose, because Heaven and the New Earth are your ultimate goal, God’s plan for your life is the plan that you seek, and the loss of loved ones is minimized by the promise that we can meet in eternity. With a solid faith in Jesus, you can say, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Happiness does not rest on any worldly thing. You have something that transcends worldly things.
A secondary way that Jesus can help with losses is the promise that God causes all things to work together for our good. God is not necessarily the cause of our losses, but He can take a big loss and bring about something positive through that loss. Perhaps the loss of a relationship will lead to another or better one. A loss of a job may lead to a new sense of purpose. With faith in Jesus we will be looking for how God is going to use it. And He does.
Knowing Jesus allows us to grieve with hope. We still feel sadness at our loss, but we can explain it in terms of greater things and know that we will survive and know happiness again.