The greatest battleground is the mind. Temptation, depression, fear, hate, all begin in the mind. We imagine hurts, we imagine something fearful. We want to teach someone a lesson. All these thoughts begin in the mind then move into the subconscious. What we do and say and how our health is are fruit of what comes out of the subconscious and what it is fed.
Vance Havner wrote, ‘Our defeat or victory begins with what we think, and if we guard our thoughts we shall not have much trouble anywhere else along the line.’
YOU’RE NOT MAD IF YOU TALK TO YOURSELF
I have discovered that mental health is affected by how we talk to ourselves in our mind. If we tell ourselves often enough that we are no good, that we’re a failure, that God doesn’t love us and that he won’t help us, we become pessimistic in our outlook and live accordingly. Our faith is negated. We are open to the black dog of depression and fear. But if we talk to ourselves positively, ‘I will not be put down.’ Or, ‘I will not give up,’ or ‘I can do this,’ or ‘God loves me enough to send Jesus to die for me,’ or ‘I will not give way to depression.’ We are expressing faith in God and his favour.
Accept that we are blameless. To believe we are blameless we must accept that Jesus gifted us with his faultlessness at his death on the cross. If we accept Jesus made us guiltless just as if we’d never sinned then we are able to talk to ourselves in a positive manner.
THE BLACK DOG
We are often not aware that our mental health has suffered. We become unable to resist depression. We may not even be aware we are depressed. The person living with mental illness often believes there is nothing wrong; it is hard to help them either in the spiritual realm or the physical realm when in this state until they can acknowledge their need.
A prayer partner or carer needs to come alongside and stabilize our thoughts, help us to bring the imagination under the control of Christ. It is believed by many, ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 10: 5)
Part of mental ill health is the imagination run amok the wrong way. Be prepared to let the Lord lead to a doctor in the field. Dale Carnegie was correct when he said, ‘Our thoughts make us what we are.’
THE WHITE DOG OF GOODNESS
There is a great need for our self-esteem to be based on Christ. It is knowing that God loves us to distraction that we are his beloved, the apple of his eye, because Christ when on the cross, gave us his perfection when we accepted him. It is this knowledge of such great love and esteem that heals our low self-esteem. We, in turn, become confident, fearless, and able to cope in any situation. ‘For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.’(Philippians 4: 13; LB)
Being convinced that ‘we have not been given the spirit of fear but of love and a sound mind’ will guard us against the black dog of depression being able to bring us down when at our most vulnerable.
We may even have to change our thinking to line up with scripture. Change from a performance-based faith to trusting what ‘Christ has made me’ kind of faith. This positive way of thinking provides a barrier against mental illness.
The lyrics of a song beautifully expresses a truth, ‘Let the weak say I am strong and the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done. Give thanks.’