I have been asked on several different occasions a question that kind of baffles me. I guess I kinda get it, if the person that is asking is trying to decide where to start their recovery for mental health issues, we all have to start somewhere. But this is a question that I just can’t wrap my head around completely.
“Which is more important? Seeking medical treatment or seeking spiritual healing?”
I think one of the issues I have with this question is that I feel like I am being set up. Generally speaking when someone asks me this, the inquisitive person doesn’t come across to me as someone who is looking for actual information as much as they want me to agree with and ultimately justify their own opinion. I say this because of the responses I get when I give my answer; which, by the way, is a very firm and decided, “Yes.”
Spiritual healing is important, after all having a healthy body doesn’t mean much if you spend eternity separated from God. At the same time are we not taking care of the body that God gave us for this life if we neglect our health? Our bodies are supposed to be the temple of God right?
If the person asking is on the spiritual side of things then the common response to my answer of this question is something along the lines of, “If people would just put their faith in Jesus then the problems they are having would be resolved. How can a person be depressed and filled with the Joy of the Lord at the same time?” Or, “These pharmaceutical companies and these doctors just think everything can be fixed with a pill. They just keep writing prescriptions. At some point you have to take some responsibility.”
If the person asking is on the medical side of things then the response usually involves something along the lines of “Reading the Bible won’t cure any other illness, what makes this one so special?” Or, “You just can’t pray everything away. At some point you have to take some responsibility.”
There are points in my life I can think of having walked on both sides of this debate. And I would guess there are many other people who have as well. And if given the opportunity I do believe I can offer a rather compelling argument for why either side is correct. But that is not what I am going to do because I am not trying to have a debate with anyone. Instead I want to ask you, the reader, a question:
“Why can’t we do both?”
I firmly believe that God can do anything. I don’t picture God sitting up in heaven trying to rack His brain about what to do with that Nate guy, wondering how things got so out of hand. If He wants to heal my mental health struggles then I believe that He can. I have no question as to the abilities of God. I have no issue with going to Him and asking for healing and believe that the Bible clearly expresses that God wants us to ask Him to meet my needs. This is not an issue of a lack in faith.
I also believe that God is a sovereign God who does as He wills according to His purpose. If this means that He chooses to allow my mental health struggles to continue so that He can be glorified in some way, then I need to be ok with that. I am ok with that. This is also not an issue of a lack in faith.
At the same time I also see that God has given us abilities that He intends for us to use in community. If I have cancer for example, I would have no problem talking to an Oncologist to find out what my treatment options where. This is because that Oncologist has gifting’s that allowed for Him to understand his education and be able to apply that education in a way that I do not possess. If I have a mental health issue I should be able to do the same thing. I can do this not because I have abandoned God and given up on Him. But instead I can do this because I believe that God has the ultimate ability and authority to heal me. The Doctor doesn’t, God does. The Doctor has tools at his disposal that will be used to help in facilitating the process of healing but Doctors themselves don’t heal anyone.
I will give you another example. If my car broke down and I didn’t know how to fix it I would take it to a mechanic. I think it is safe to say that any reasonable person would in that scenario. Does this show a lack of faith? I could have prayed over the car and expected God to fix it. God certainly has the ability to fix my car. I know people who say that God has done this for them. Why would I go to the mechanic? If I pray and God tells me to go to a mechanic should I demand that He just heal my car? Or should I go to the mechanic and thank God for placing this person in my life?
Miracles are awesome. I thank God for the miracles He has done in my life. And I thank Him for the miracles He has done in the lives of others. But if I place my focus on the healing then I take my focus off the Healer. God works in each of our lives differently. Got doesn’t seem to be big on cookie cutters. He is into the details. I say let Him figure out He is going to work in someone else’s life. And I will pay more attention to how He wants to work in mine.
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery