As a pastor, for years I would calendar my preaching in February to deal with issues related to mental health. I’d jokingly call February “Mental Health Month.” I had several reasons for this. One, was just the nature of the season. It is winter and has been winter for some time and now I’m sick of it. Give me spring!
February In Oklahoma was ice storms, winds, tornadoes, earthquakes, and loss of electrical power. It was still dark late in the morning and then again early in the evening. During the day it was often overcast. Okay, maybe I’m lumping a whole month of events into what may seem like one day, but I guarantee you, we’ve had one day like that, and it was in February! So, you get my point. The weather can be a real downer in February unless you are a weather forecaster, then you're excited.
A second reason for the mental health focus as a pastor was the inevitable letdown after the Christmas and New Years holidays. As now a grandparent, I miss seeing every one of my grandkids since Christmas. I miss my children as well, but there is a special feeling of loss not seeing the grandkids for a while after Christmas. For many, it is a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Then there are all the bills! For some people, Christmas is binge shopping! “Let’s buy this for the kids, they need it!” “Sure, this is expensive, but it’s the holidays!” You know the feeling. It’s the high of impulse buying something nobody really, really needs while you are hyped up on a Starbucks Americano Grande. Wow! It’s like a drug.
The emotional high of materialistic procurement goes away after Christmas, sometimes that very evening. Your mental health is in danger when you open up the credit card bill in January or the first of February. You just can’t believe you spent that much money. Someone must have hacked your credit card! But no. The financial woes are self-inflicted.
There you have it. Four good reasons for making February Mental Health Month: The weather, the holiday let-down, isolation, and financial debt.
But with all of these things, some might say that all I’m doing is providing some sort of moralistic therapeutic deism instead of Christianity. I will admit that there is always a danger of this happening. Especially if we don’t stand firmly on the Gospel of Christ. Jesus came to call us to himself, not to our version of a happy and fulfilled life. Holiness (in the theological sense, not the pejorative sense) is more important than happiness. We seek God and His kingdom first, not our best selves.
Does it mean that focusing on mental health is not Christian? This is really a good question. It’s a good question because the subject of mental health is now front and center in the various fields of government, medicine, education, self-help, helping professions, business, nonprofits, religion, and spirituality. Each of these fields has a different take on the subject. As Christians, we need to look at this subject of mental health through the lens of Scripture and the practice of the church in history.
Here is one Scripture describing God’s will for your mental health.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, CSB)
Sanctification, or being set apart as God’s own is the goal. This is achieved by all the various parts of us as human beings kept “sound and blameless.”
God and his church are interested in your whole spirit, soul, and body’s wellness. But this wellness and the prescription for it is very different from the worlds' interest.
The world doesn’t have the “soul” resources that the Christian faith has. It doesn’t have the offer of forgiveness found in repentance supplied by the atoning death of Christ. It doesn’t have adoption as sons of God (both male and female), being co-heirs with Christ. It doesn’t have the abiding and empowering “right now” presence of the Holy Spirit of God, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. It doesn’t have the power to renew minds so that we will discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
I’ve written all this to get to this point. God has equipped his people to help not only his people but the world to come to know Jesus. One of the ways is by helping those who are bent under the weight of the problems of modern-day life.
This is why I’m recommending you check out a very timely and free virtual Mental Health Conference this Saturday, February 11, 2023. It is Christ-centered and need focused. It’s called Voices of Hope and I’m actually one of the presenters. But you don’t need to attend my seminar, there are over +35 Voices of Hope to speak into your life! – With featured speakers like Kay Warren, Colleen Swindoll, Laura Howe and many more, this conference promises to be amazing!
Voices of Hope has been created for anyone who is either experiencing a mental health challenge or has a loved one who does or is needing to heal trauma and grief, those experiencing Post Pandemic Distress who are searching to improve their emotional health, and Churches and Ministry leaders who are looking to increase their church’s capacity, awareness and offer hope to their community.
The conference will be covering 6 main tracks:
Living with a Mental Health Diagnosis
Resources for Loved Ones
Trauma and Grief
Parenting When There’s a Mental Health Challenge or a Disability
Pastors and Ministry Leaders
Post Pandemic Emotional Health
You are invited to participate in this unprecedented virtual event in the history of Fresh Hope. We will have many guest Voices of Hope and you can register FREE now!!!
Go ahead and click the image below to check it out and register. If you know of someone who could benefit from this, please forward Fresh Hope for Mental Health Virtual Conference to them as well.