he past couple of months have been a busy travel season for me, and to God be the Glory great things He alone did. In my many airport hours (waiting to board or sleepless boring travel hours), like most people, I either read the latest news or watch football (especially returning home on Sunday evenings).
Two stories stood out to me or should I say trigger a dormant article in my head (Rev. Rick Warren's son Matthew committing suicide and a pastor in Atlanta doing same both because of depression). How do couples deal with a spouse that is physically (externally) OK, but dealing with strong emotional mood swings and/or chemical imbalance (hormonal) or malfunction of a body system. Among us Africans (both at home and in Diaspora), such complexities are often something you cover-up and never allowed to become public.
During my last visit home-Africa (Oct. 2013), the towel my parents gave to me to use was a gift from the 80th birthday of a woman, whose life and family intrigued me as a young man. She and her husband, had 6 kids altogether (the 5th was my age-mate), but I remember the first three, all developed mental problem at certain age (second or third year at the university), and the assumption was spiritual attacks from someone (not sure who was blamed). As an adult, Iíve seen many cases and I now know that such conditions are genetic and problem with chemical imbalance, and simple medication (taken constantly) could ensure an almost normal life.
As humans, we have tripartite nature (1 Thess. 5: 23), we have a spirit, a Soul (mind, will and emotion) and we a have a body (aka flesh).
Our spirit being, at birth is separated from God and remains so until we make the willful choice of accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (see Romans 10: 9-10). At creation our spirit being was alive and active with God, but the sin of Adam and Eve brought spiritual death and separation, until Christ came as once and for all sacrificial Lamb that was slain for atonement for our sins and reconciling us back to our Father in heaven.
No one really understands what takes place spiritually, but everyone that has experienced spiritual rebirth knows something happened within you. The rebirth of our human spirit, enables the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God -promised by Jesus and came at Pentecost) to connect with our spirit.
The Holy Spirit connecting with our spirit, gives us as humans an amazing capability, in having the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit, we are also a heartbeat away from our Father in heaven, we have insight (and potential partnership) into His plan on earth and we become a vessel (hopefully of honor) He uses to accomplish His mission on earth, using all our beings. So, God would give insight to humans to come up with engineering, neurological, scientific, psychological etc. breakthroughs that would not only benefit other humans, but would bring glory to His name.
In Christianity, God has blessed us with ministry gifts (teachers, pastors, apostles, prophets, workers of miracles etc.) to help uplift each other spiritually.
Human soul is also very complex, it includes our will (free), our mind and vast array of feelings known together as emotion. While these complexities can be explained individually for academic purposes, they work together. According to the Bible we humans have a free will, this is the ability to make our choices, especially choices that have eternal consequences, such as accepting Christ as Savior and Lord, angels for instance don't have such choices they simply carry out God's instruction and anything contrary brings severe consequence. Lesser animals don't have a free will, they have instinct, so they follow pattern (we humans might follow pattern for convenience sake, but we don't have to, some of us actually like challenging status quo to make sure it's true or authentic).
The mind is perhaps the most complex part of human soul (my opinion), it is where information is both processed (frontal lobe or cortex) and stored (hippocampus mostly, fear in amygdala). Information coming into our mind comes primarily from external sources (the two spiritual kingdoms via human institutions - media, religion, education, entertainment, political/government, family, and economic) via our five senses (hearing, smelling, seeing, touching/feeling and tasting), such information are stored in the hippocampus and processes in the frontal lobe, both organs located in the brain work together via neurons (or neuro-transmitters) within seconds. The processing of information and decision made often triggers the type of hormone that will flow or other sensory systems that need to be deployed.
Psychologists, Psychiatrists and now neurologists have spent countless hours in labs trying to figure out the complexities of human emotion, they've separated them into primary (triggers automatically) and secondary (reaction to an action) emotion, but one thing is very clear, all feeling or emotion is directly linked to hormonal flow within our physical (flesh) body.
So when Iím happy due to the purchase of a car or something I desire badly, my body release hormones that give me a high, when Iím afraid for whatever reason (walking in a dark alley etc.) my body also releases hormones that prepares me for flight or fight, when Iím presented with sad news my body releases hormones that produces teary glands in my eyes. Many years of study have shown that when we are bombarded with negative news for a long time or by just being pessimistic about our life circumstance, it could affect hormonal flow negatively, keeping us in what is called depression - meaning perpetual bad moods.
Aforementioned scientists (various specialties) have been given wisdom by God to help treat symptoms of emotional imbalance often categorized for diagnoses purposes, some simply require medication (such as ADHD or ADD), while some require both medication and counseling. As a pastoral counselor, Iím often very aware or conscious of this, and would refer clients to specialist (psychiatrist, psychologist and therapist) who I believe are born again, and not those with humanistic/worldly ideology in counseling. Psychologists are PhD holders (clinical, non-clinical and PyschD.), Psychiatrists are medical doctors and therapists are often masterís degree holders who do counseling and paperwork but can't prescribe medication (they are covered clinically by psychiatrists).
Human spirit was meant to connect to God, its creator but sin created a break in transmission. Under the Old Testament, God chose specific people through which He connected to humanity, but with the New Testament, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we (every human) now have access to God's throne room and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we simply need to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to get the ball rolling or begin the process of spiritual maturity.
A born again or better-still a spiritually matured person, still have human sinful nature, still have emotions and hormones that goes up and down, still gets bad news (sometimes repeatedly), still have the five senses and gets crap put in his/her mind from the kingdom of darkness (itís called temptation), however, such a person now have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to help shape or re-shape their thinking that should give a different perspective on how to live life.
David, a beloved of God is a good example of someone with emotional topsy-turvy connected to hormonal flow, but had godly perspective before the problems. He was a fugitive who ran from Saul for about 23 years. On one of such escapades with his soldiers, some other folks came and raided their homes and took their families as slaves. David's went into depression (an emotional low), not only did he lose his family, his men were also blaming him for loosing theirs, he however had godly perspective, rather than stay depressed, he inquired of The Lord, and pursued the culprits and got back everyone's family. Apostle Paul is another classic example, since his conversion to Christ, his sole mission was evangelizing gentiles, this brought many tough situations his way, including being stoned, being driven out of many cities, being lied against, and a few times - he'll often write about how on some occasions he wished for death, even with the knowledge that God was in-charge, but he quickly got over it.
Accepting Christ as Lord and Savior should change our perspective of life, apostle Paul wrote the church in Rome, that they must be transformed by the renewing of their mind (with God's word). As followers of Christ, we believe and trust God that He knows everything that happens to us therefore we have no fear of death (as Paul said) because we see it as a transition. We recognize the schemes of the devil but we also know its limitation (as king Balak found out), we know that when we are called to an assignment it might not turn out the way we think but it will turn out well (His way) eventually, we believe that if we stand for God's truth, in His righteousness we are presenting ourselves as a vessel for Him to use in a dark world, we believe that accepting Christ give us a peace that is different from the worldís (rest of mind in chaos, not absence of chaos), we know our God own all things and can do all things however, He is also sovereign (chooses to do what He sees fit, even if we don't understand it). When a true believer accept and understand some of the above principles and more, it eliminates lots of anxieties that life would bring.
As Christians (matured or not), it is very important for us to separate stress that affects our emotion and hence malfunction of a or some body systems, and it is also important for us to know that while doctors of all types treat symptoms, it is only God that heals.
There are diagnoses such as schizophrenia, alzheimers, sickle cell etc. often caused by something in our DNA coding, in many cases such individuals don't even have any perspective of reality, many of these diagnosis currently don't have a cure (but they do have treatments that help the person function), while some do. Our job as Christians based on Deut. 29: 29 are to pray that God give scientists insight and wisdom in coming up with treatable cures for many of these conditions.
Diagnoses of our emotion (not DNA related) such as depression (my wife the doctor believe depression is genetic, I the novice donít agree) etc. have treatable cures, there are tons of medication in varying classes to treat people with emotional issues, the best however is when medication (for a short term) is mixed with godly counseling, not counseling based on human intelligent (there are process and methodologies developed intellectually that are good and should be used, what we should be careful of are the subjective conclusions of ungodly therapists and/or psychologists).
Based on scriptures, we know that God who is our creator (formed and breathe life into us) can and does intervene supernaturally in healing humans regardless of whether the diagnosis is a DNA malfunction or an emotional (chemical) imbalance, however, in most cases he wants us to follow written principles, wisdom and insight already given to men (humans). For instance, there are medications to treat HBP (high blood pressure) and as Christians it will be wise to use and follow the regiments of the medication, however, we can also (and have faith) trust God that we desire a supernatural touch from heaven to completely heal (not simply treat) the HBP. In the same way, we can take medication for schizophrenia or bipolar to treat the symptoms of the diagnosis, yet continue to trust God for supernatural (total) healing. I personally, believe it will be fool hardy to ignore the wisdom God has given to men to come up with medication and insist (based on feeling or wrong teaching) on supernatural healing alone, trying to blackmail God while calling it faith?
I'm very sure that many of you (if not all) reading this article (even true believers) are experiencing some major DNA issues with a spouse/child etc. or chemical issues resulting in emotional distress (perhaps brought on by life issues), do not lose hope, do not have a pity party either, find out what wisdom God has given to the scientific community to treat the diagnosis in your household and pursue it (ask for the best human physician), at the same time approach the Great Physician in His throne room and ask that heaven supernaturally heal the situation (while reading appropriate scriptures), but be ready for His sovereignty (not condemn yourself because of lack of faith, God might have other plan for/through the situation to Glorify Himself).
Here are some theological legs I stand on:
- Nothing that happens to me is news to God. While He allows me to go through life's valley (sometime so I can comfort others in similar situation) He also would not let that valley be more than what I can bear.
- Even if my valley is caused by my disobedience or Him allowing the enemy access (like in the case of Job), He eventually makes everything work together for my good (like with Job again), because I am called by His name and He knows of my love for Him (internally and in my obedience to His word).
- That every knowledge or wisdom on earth comes from God, including knowledge in the medical field (see Deut. 29: 29), so we need to stop seeing medical treatment (Iím not talking traditional medicine that involves demonic incantations Ė some traditional medicine are crude but not demonic, such as herbs or ďagboĒ very potent for malaria) as against God's purpose. We also need to deal with some cultural issues that categorizes certain diagnosis as demonic and some as normal, for example many African have little problem with taking HBP or cholesterol medications, but they resist taking mental diagnosis medication, thereby randomly selecting where they desire supernatural touch due to cultural sensitivities.
- I realize and know that whatever knowledge God has given to human physician or relevant scientists, it is to treat the healing of any diagnosis is still the prerogative of the Great Physician. He supernaturally steps into our situation as it fits His overall purpose, plan and timing.
It always amazes how the same God that released Peter from the prison with an angel (supernaturally) allowed Stephen to be stoned to death, the same God that allowed a crazy Pharaoh to put the Jews in captivity that lasted 400 years also saved them from Amman's gallows, the same God that raised apostle Paul up from death in Lystra eventually allowed him to be martyred. The same God that has allowed the treating of serious medical conditions (such as avascular-necrosis) with modern medicine in America, healed an infected finger supernaturally in Danghadi, (west) Nepal where medical treatment is not easily accessible - both in true believers (Iím a witness to both).
- God is still in the business of healing supernaturally, however, I believe we should pursue the wisdom He has given to men, except we are abundantly sure (not some strong feeling) that He desires to supernaturally touch our situation.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego not only have Faith in God, they also trusted Him 100% based on His history with their fore-father, so they were willing to be obedient to the point of death, knowing that depending on His plan, He may or may not step in supernaturally in their situation, but He [God] choose to make a grand entry in the fire, leading to Nebuchadnezzar declaring that the God (Jehovah) of Ram, Shack and Benny is the True God.
I know this article has touched a few theological mines, what I ask of each reader is not to simply imbibe or discard, but to take your bible and check out the doctrine/theology therein (also the scientific assertions) and then let the Holy Spirit lead you. I pray for those that need to take-on modern medication would have the courage to do so in whatever diagnosis is at hand, and I pray also that for those who have come to the end of what human can do, that the God of the supernatural would step into your situation for His glory.
P.S. Just saw this article as I was about to send the article in:-http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-251563