Psalm 139 v 23-24:
Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Although we have ample proof in the Bible of men and women who God saw as righteous, who struggled through emotional distress, we have still formed the belief that Christians are somehow exempt from experiencing anything other than heavenly bliss on earth. This belief is unhealthy for a number of reasons.
The most important of all reasons: it is not biblical. If God had not anticipated that we would experience emotional distress, discouragement, depression, anxiety; why would He offer us truth in His Word regarding these things? That would be like creating a cure for a disease that does not exist: it simply does not make sense. Jesus Himself experienced this in the Garden of Gethsemane. He experienced it while He was hanging on the cross for our sins. He explicitly told His disciples that they will have trouble in this world. We cannot pretend that troubles do not exist, and that should not be our aim. Our aim should be to walk with God through it all.
It creates an unrealistic expectation that when you become a Christian, all your troubles and cares simply disappear. I believe this is why we have believers who jump and shout for joy during church services, but are unable to navigate through life and its challenges as soon as they exit the four walls of the church. I also believe that this is why many people turn their backs on the Christian faith. They believe they are owed a life without trouble and pain because, unfortunately, that is how a lot of churches make Christianity sound. God never promised us a life on earth without pain and trials; He did, however, promise us that through His Spirit within us, we can have hope, joy and peace despite it all.
It creates the impression that God is not interested in our mental health, and that He does not understand, nor have the patience to deal with any emotions or questions that are not positive. This is simply untrue. He fully understands and possesses all the patience we need to walk through this journey. As David demonstrates in the scripture above, it is good to have a heart-to-heart with God about our hidden thoughts and emotions. Hidden pain, if not dealt with, festers into bitterness, which results in wicked thoughts and ultimately, wicked deeds. He is not a God who shies away from our negative emotions, our darkest thoughts and our sinful desires. God desires for us to be whole. He created us with a body, soul and spirit – and we cannot be whole if we neglect either one of them. Our thoughts, mindsets, behavioural patterns, emotions all reside in our soul; and we need to take care of it.
It creates an unrealistic view of God. If we say we believe that God is mighty and all powerful, does it then make sense to believe at the same time that it is impossible for Him to deal with our complicated emotions? With our physical health and mental health issues? That He is okay with us taking medication for physical recovery but not mental recovery? All things in life require balance. We cannot expect to truly live freely, while at the same time, creating our own beliefs and mindsets that are contrary to the Bible by simply calling them “Christian”. God is not only fully capable, but also more than willing to walk with us on our journey through anxiety and depression.