Psychological suffering?


My friend continued: “What about psychological health? Does the logic surrounding that type follow the same pattern? Are some believers, by virtue of their chemistry or experiences or whatever destined to mind impairment of some type apart from the intervention of a miracle, which we generally regard, don’t we, as the exception to the rule? Somehow it is easier for me to live at peace with God though I have a bum leg or bad ticker than if I feel psychologically fragmented (to use the metaphor of the DVD that, when played, breaks into those odd visual arrays). A couple of years ago when you, blessed you!!!, blessed, blessed you!!!!!, came to my aid in my trauma, you brought great comfort with your counsel concerning my condition (side note: I have not had a repeat of that trauma, but I do feel a lingering fear of living on an edge that can be crossed unexpectedly), but would you say that as with physical health my psychological health may be chronically affected?”

Psychological suffering occurs early in the bible. Adam and Eve suffered for disobeying God. The were ashamed, afraid, and sought to hide from God. Other instances of suffering were not due to a person’s sin, but that God would be glorified. Sounds a bit hard to swallow for those of us of the western mind-set. Consider John 9:1-3: “As he (Jesus) passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (ESV). Paul, quite disturbingly challenged the Christian in Romans 5:3-5: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (ESV).

In the Old Testament we repeatedly see suffering. The more obvious include Job, Moses, Hagar, Jacob, Hannah, Naomi, David, Joseph, Daniel, and the “three Hebrew children”, Nebuchadnezzar, Hosea, Esther, and Jeremiah come to mind. In the New Testament we find several who experienced suffering, some very familiar and some quite obscure. I think of Joseph, Mary, John the Baptist, Stephen, Paul, Timothy, others who Paul specifically mentioned. And, of course, we cannot forget Jesus.

Scripture states: “He (Jesus) was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53: 3-5, ESV). And, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8, ESV).

I will expand.