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First Thoughts

Resurrection and the Cure for Mental Health

These appear to be the darkest of times.

It is no secret that we have a mental health crisis. Week after week, we are confronted with the stories of devastation. The headlines sometimes don’t hit home, but they don’t have to. We know personal stories. We know our friends who are despairing of life itself. We see families pierced with the pains of anxiety, eating disorders, attempted suicides, and unstable emotions.

Real people made in God’s image who are harming themselves and harming others.

This is a darkness that can be felt across our country. In her book, Bad Therapy: Why the Kids aren’t Growing Up, Abigail Shrier acknowledges the widespread problem. She notes that “forty-two percent of the rising generation currently has a mental health diagnosis” (17). That is astonishing. The number of children who have been labeled with a mental illness in America continues to climb year after year.

Shrier makes an unwelcome observation about what is not working. The mental health solutions of American psychologists and therapists aren’t helping. She notes that “with unprecedented help from mental health experts, we have raised the loneliest, most anxious, depressed, pessimistic, helpless, and fearful generation on record” (xvii).

We live in a country that for decades has carried on with mental health institutions and treatment plans that have repeatedly failed. It might be unprecedented help, but we all need to be honest that it isn’t working. “Nearly 40% of the rising generation has received treatment from a mental health professional” (17).

As mental health “help” increases, so does the poor condition of mental health. “Seventy-five years of rapid expansion in mental health treatment and services has landed us here, marveling at the unprecedented psychological frailty of American youth” (20). Before going on to suggest that mental health professionals are making things worse, she notes, “After generations of increased intervention, that shouldn’t be the case. More access to antibiotics should spell fewer deaths from infection. And more generally available therapy should spell less depression” (21). Shrier is one of many who are starting to realize that hope cannot be found in the mental health profession.

During such darkness, is there any hope of obtaining stabilizing joy and peace?

Jesus is the Savior that the mental health profession can never be.

Jesus Christ came to earth to redeem his creation. He came into the world to seek and save those who are lost, confused, hurt, and responsible for their rebellion. Jesus knows the trials and weaknesses of humanity yet lived a perfect life full of joy, peace, righteousness, and self-control. Jesus said that he came so we might have the fullness of joy.

John 15:9–11

[9] As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. [10] If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. [11] These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Isn’t fullness of joy what we need for mental health? Isn’t perfect peace what we long for to be “healthy” again?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cure for mental health. He promised that after his resurrection he would provide us with his Spirit to empower us for obedience.

We can have the peace of Christ – “perfect peace”(Isaiah 26:3) and “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-8) – because we have his Spirit producing “peace” inside of us (Galatians 5:22).

He came to give every broken person hope as the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep (John 10:11). He is the sacrificial shepherd who “restores our souls” (Psalm 23:3).

This Easter, we need our Lord to restore our souls. For this to happen, it will require momentary grief on our part. It is difficult to acknowledge that we are responsible for our sin. It can be hard to view our suffering as a trial that is designed by God to refine us (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6; 4:12; 1 John 3:13).

Yet when we bring our sin, shame, and suffering to Jesus Christ, he will not harm us. He will not perform “iatrogenesis” (6). Instead, He will heal us.

Jesus will welcome us “just as we are” and transform us to be just as he is. Our transformation doesn’t happen instantly. It happens progressively from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Because of the resurrection, our transformation is guaranteed (Philippians 1:6)

While it may feel like these are the darkest of times, they are not. The darkest time was between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. It seemed like all hope had been lost. It appeared that no joy or peace could ever be maintained.

But on Easter morning, Jesus Christ secured life – abundant life for all who would believe. Jesus can guarantee the fullness of joy and everlasting peace because he came out of the tomb.

His resurrection power is the source of our hope in these dark days.


For more information about mental health, you can watch the First Baptist Midweek series on “Emotions and the Christian Life.”

Sean Perron (Ph.D. in Applied Theology from Midwestern Seminary and M.Div., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the Associate Pastor.  He is the co-author of three books: Letters to a Romantic: On DatingLetters to a Romantic: On Marriage, and Letters to a Romantic: The First Years. 

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