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-MEANING OF MENTAL HEALTH

 
Picture Frame The Secret Of Mental Health – Part 1
MEANING OF MENTAL HEALTH
We are being confronted these days with much advice from psychiatrists and psychologists regarding mental health. The average person is becoming more and more aware of the increase of mental illness and is watching the progress of medical science in the treatment of these conditions with keen interest. Many people are wondering whether or not Christianity has anything to offer by way of treatment and prevention of mental illness. The answer will be found in the Bible. The term mental health implies the normal, well-balanced, happy experience of one who is conscious of being at peace with God and in a state of goodwill towards mankind. Mental health is a positive experience. It is not just the absence of mental illness. It is not just sanity as opposed to insanity. It is a positive sense of well-being. It is the very joy of living itself. Not all psychiatrists would agree with this definition of mental health. Many describe this condition in terms of being able to adapt oneself to any environment. They consider that in order to have mental health one must be able to compromise, to find a middle course. To many psychiatrists, the teaching of such concepts as “right and wrong” and “sin and punishment” is looked upon as poor mental hygiene. They regard Christianity as superstition.

These psychiatrists fail to recognize the three-part nature of humans. Just as God is a trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so also is man a trinity of spirit, soul (or mind) and body because “God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him” (Gen. 1:27 NKJV). Therefore, man is a three-in-one creature, and to speak of health is to refer to a condition of the whole being. Our spiritual health affects our mental and bodily health. In fact, illness in any one of the three aspects of our being can and does affect the other two aspects. True mental health is impossible without spiritual health.

DANGERS TO MENTAL HEALTH

There are four outstanding mental attitudes which are a threat to mental health: 1. fear and its companions, anxiety and worry; 2. resentment and its companions, bitterness and hatred; 3. shame and its resultants, feelings of inferiority and withdrawal; 4. guilt and its resultants, hopelessness and self-destruction. Let’s consider each one of these dangers, and how we may be protected from them by adhering to the teaching of the Holy Bible.

1. Fear/Anxiety/Worry
Many studies have shown – and physicians now recognize – that fear, anxiety and worry can and do cause the following physical conditions: digestive disturbances; increased heart rate; increased blood pressure; increased action of the kidneys; muscle tension resulting in spasm and pain; increased sensitivity of the nerves with an over-response to sound, light, touch; chronic fatigue; headaches; aches and pains anywhere in the body; and such chronic illnesses as eye complaints, stomach ulcers, asthma, heart disease, eczema and arthritis.

Fear, anxiety and worry have been given to us for a purpose. Without them we would be foolhardy creatures who would not live very long because of our failure to recognize danger and do something to avoid it. The purpose of fear, anxiety and worry is to prepare us for action. That is the reason for the physical changes noted above. These changes lead to disease only if we handle our fear, anxiety and worry unwisely. It is most unwise to continue to live in fear, anxiety and worry without doing anything about them.

These conditions may become habitual with us. Indeed, worry may become such a habit that we do not realize we are worrying and thus our bodies are kept in a continual state of tension. This is often the cause of chronic fatigue. The reason why some people feel tired all the time is often just unrecognized, continual worry.

Some people try to repress their worries. They attempt to forget or put out of their minds the things that cause them fear, anxiety and worry. However, when we stop to think about it, putting a thought out of one’s mind or trying to forget it is simply pushing it back further or deeper into the mind where it is merely out of sight.

The mind is like a cupboard where all our experiences are stored. Everything we see, hear, feel and experience is stored there. Near the front of the cupboard and easily remembered are the things we need to remember, those we use from time to time. Near the front also are the things we like to remember, as well as the experiences which are too bulky and impressive to be forgotten. We tend to push into the back of the cupboard of our mind the things that irritate us and the things we do not want to think about.

Consider for a moment what would happen in any cupboard into which we pushed all the odds and ends of our housekeeping and especially the foods and other things we did not like. You know that sooner or later those things we had pushed to the back would begin to cause offense from dust, decay, rust or tarnish. That cupboard would soon cause us embarrassment and discomfort until it was cleaned out.

So it is with those who load their minds with indecisions, vague wishes, procrastinations, unsolved troubles, grudges, jealousies, real or imagined wrongs and dissatisfactions. These ferment and fester and cause nervous and emotional tensions and anxieties. These are the worry tensions that upset the working of different parts of our bodies and produce symptoms. If we regard these symptoms as evidence that we have a physical disease and worry about our health, we increase our tension and set up a vicious cycle. So all of us need to clean out our minds from time to time.

Jesus commands us not to worry. We read in Matthew 6:31: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” Then again in Matthew 6:34 we read: “Do not worry about tomorrow.” The futility of worrying is pointed out in James 4:13-14: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.”

But Jesus gives us the ultimate reason for not worrying in Matthew 6:32: “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” There is no need to worry if we have a heavenly Father. He will provide for His children. However, if we cannot claim God as our heavenly Father, in whom can we trust? If we are not children of God, we do have great cause to worry.

Our Lord Jesus Christ knows that there is no way to cure worry and anxiety by negative action. It is useless to say to someone, “Just don’t worry.” People often say, “I can’t stop worrying.” There is only one cure for fear, anxiety and worry, and that is to do something positive about it.

Jesus gives us the solution for all worry in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Our Lord tells us how to “seek the kingdom of God” in John 3:5 when He says: “Unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” When we talk about the new birth, many people are as puzzled as Nicodemus was. A moment or two of thought, however, will show us how simple our Lord’s explanation is.

When we were born into this world we were thrown upon the mercy of others. Life before birth was automatic and we had no knowledge either of our own needs or of the source of their supply. The unborn baby does not know its mother. Life after birth is not automatic. The baby feels his need of warmth and food and attention; he feels discomfort. Although he does not know what causes his anxiety and unhappiness, as the baby cries in his discomfort and then becomes aware of soothing satisfaction, he also becomes aware of the source of his care, the one who loves him.

The person who has not been born again is drifting along in life, taking what is given to him without care or thought. To be born again is to become aware of our discomfort and to cry to God as our Father for His mercy and forgiveness because of the finished work of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Then we are born into a new realization of our oneness with God. Since God is our Father, there is no longer any need to worry.

As a child doing the will of his father, we will then say in all our decisions and plans what we are taught in James 4:15: “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” With this attitude, we shall have a continual consciousness of the Holy Spirit of God in us. In His presence we cannot worry. Hence the cure for anxiety and worry is to practice the thought of His presence.

We will be tempted to be afraid, to be anxious and to worry. The temptation may reach the point where we fear that God has forsaken us. But He never has and He never will. So, when tempted to worry, think of 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Never doubt it, child of God – “He cares for you.” Do not doubt it, fearful, anxious, worried sinner – “He cares for you.” He died and rose that you might be born again and that you might become a child in that great family of God whose members have no cause for fear, anxiety and worry.

By H. R. Brillinger, MD

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org

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