I love it when science “catches up” to scripture. I especially love it when scientists discover help me and my friends live better, happier, healthier lives consistent with the gospel. My winter reading list and the speaker from a conference I recently attended reminded me of those things and, instead of waiting to write full book reviews on each one, I thought it would help you more to hear a few of their insights and provide links to their resources.
One caveat: I don’t agree with everything in these resources, nor do I wish to debate psychology v. scripture. So, as with all such things, use discernment, eat the meat and throw away the bones.
The Bible on Mental Health
The Bible is full of references to mental health and relationships. Here are just a few.
A heart at peace gives life to the body. (Prov. 14:30).
All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. (Prov 15:15).
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Prov. 17:22).
And of course, Philippians 4:4-9 on joy, anxiety, reasonableness, and the peace of God comes to mind along with many others.
When themes are repeated across several platforms and by different authors, it increases confidence in their validity. Here are some key insights I’ve picked up over the last few weeks, none earth-shattering but all worth remembering.
1. The critical importance of relationships to our mental and physical health. We need each other. We need small groups.
“More and more recent research has shown that lack of bonding can affect one’s ability to recover from an entire range of physical illness, including cancer, heart attack, and stroke…the nature of a patient’s emotional ties drastically affects whether or not this patient will get heart disease.” Even our blood chemistry changes when we have bitter thoughts. “A person’s ability to love and connect with others lays the foundation for both psychological and physical health.”
2. The damage we can do to ourselves and others when we fail to manage our emotions well.
Ever wondered why the Apostle Paul warned us “not to let the sun go down on your anger?” Paul Meier, MD, ThD, asserts that 95% of depression is anger turned inward. Emotional pain most likely to become a lingering physical ailment is suppressed emotional pain. When we need to take a time-out or make an appointment to discuss an inflammatory issue, temporary repression is ok. Permanent suppression is deadly.
“When we pretend that all is well when all is not well, when we tell ourselves and others that nothing bad has happened when something very bad has happened, when we act as if we have suffered no loss or pain when we have suffered great loss or pain, it is then that we are stuffing what we should express. When a person begins to pack powerful and devastating emotions into the closet of his soul, he is setting himself up for trouble.”
3. The importance of time, grace, and practice in the development of relational capacity.
In RARE Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead, Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder wrote: “The critical point between the brain functioning well or starting to fail is where it runs out of joy and begins to run on fear as its motivation.” When that happens, we become “reactive, rigid, with serious implications to living and leading effectively.”
We tell each other, “Choose Joy.” But that’s like saying to a newbie at the gym, “Lift this 300 pounds.” It doesn’t work, and it’s insulting. But we can say, “Let’s go to the gym together and start lifting weights.” In that way, we build physical capacity. We build joy capacity the same way, with practice, with friends, over time.
RARE Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead. Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder. Website: Deeper Walk International.
Changes That Heal: Four Practical Steps to a Happier, Healthier You. Dr. Henry Cloud. Website: Dr.Cloud.com.
DEADLY Emotions: Understand the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection That Can Heal or Destroy You. Don Colbert, M.D.
DON’T LET JERKS GET THE BEST OF YOU: Advice for Dealing With Difficult People. Paul Meier, M.D.Meier Clinics.
 Dr. Henry Cloud, Changes That Heal: Four Practical Steps to a Happier Healthier You. Pg 66. Zondervan, 2018.
 Ephesians 4:26.
 Don Colbert, MD, Deadly Emotions: Understand the Mind-Body Connection That Can Heal or Destroy You. Pg. 53. Thomas Nelson, 2003.