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Kia Stephens


April 14, 2018

5 Key Differences Between Mental Illness and Spiritual Struggle

April 14, 2018 | By | 2 Comments

Recently I had the opportunity to ask a question that I had never heard discussed within the four walls of a church. “How do you know if you need a counselor, a psychiatrist, or a friend?” I asked. The response was was wise and profound.

A seasoned therapist proceeded to describe Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. “Picture Jesus in the Garden,” she began. The Bible tells us that Christ looked at His disciples and said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” in Mark 14: 34. Scripture further describes Christ’s distress in Luke 22: 44 when it says, ”And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

After she described the condition of our Savior she ended with a question I will never forget.

“What if Jesus couldn’t get out of the garden?” I had never thought about it before, but it was a question worth pondering.

Had He gotten stuck in this critical moment, how would we view Him? Had He remained sandwiched between the present and the unavoidable future, what would we think about His mental state? The spiritual struggle we see in the garden links our Savior to mankind. We can clearly see why it says in Hebrews 4: 15 that we have a “high priest who is able to empathize with our weakness.”

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  1. This is so good! Thank you for this timely article Kia. I have been sandwiched between the present and the unavoidable future for a very long season and have struggled with where to go for help. Well intentioned biblical counselors, in my experience, have always made things worse. They simply do not have the skill set to properly counsel trauma patients (and meditating on scripture and prayer does not always provide healing this side of eternity). Thank you for helping to address the stigma related to mental illness within the church, and even more so, the wisdom you shared to help decipher when to talk with a psychiatrist, counselor, or friend.

    • Tina, I am so humbled by your words and absolutely grateful to God that He spoke to you through this post. It is my sincere hope that things are changing in the church as it relates to mental illness. I pray that we would begin to recognize the need for counselors, psychiatrist, and the Bible. It is not always an either or, sometimes it is a both depending on the individual. I pray God would direct you to the right resources and that you would know his overwhelming love for you as you grow and heal. Be blessed my friend and thank you again for letting me know how this post impacted you. Kia

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