Interacting with friends, coworkers, mates, and children will reveal the inner workings of a person. Being irritable can cause bodily aches and pains, tiredness and nervousness. The mind can become weighed down by burdens. Granted, the irritants may be small, vague ones. All a person may say is, “I’m anxious, afraid.” Maybe he can’t tell you any particular thing that is bothering him. But he knows something is, and once in a while one particular sore will fester till it breaks open.
In our society today, millions of people are suffering from chronic worry, hypertension, prejudice, guilt, hatred, fear, and the harassment of failure. Unfortunately, an alarming number of people suffering from these ailments are professing Christians! The person who knows Christ as Savior is not immune to mental or emotional problems. He is as susceptible to tension and anxiety as a non-Christian working beside him at the office or plant or living next door.
If you are struggling with a difficulty, you are not alone. That is, you are not the only one facing a problem, even though you share your inner conflict with no one.
“My problem is so simple,” you say. “How can I talk about it? I can see that I’m mad at my wife. But when I think of the inconsequential things over which I’m mad, I get confused. Why should I lose my temper over a misplaced pair of socks, or why would I leave the house upset because she disapproves of my bowling teammates?”
“But the way I am–my reactions to life at home, at work, at church, with my relatives–cause me to lose sleep at night, to lash out at the children, to say things I don’t mean. I think thoughts that surprise me. I tell myself, ‘This can’t be me.'”
The struggle for peace is just that–recognizing and dealing with the sin that causes your problem. Paul Tournier, a Christian psychiatrist in Switzerland, says everyone experiences guilt feelings and seeks to escape them by self-justification and repression of conscience. “To tear men from this impossible situation and to make them capable once more of receiving grace, God must therefore first of all awaken within them the repressed guilt” (Guilt and Grace, Harper and Row, p. 142).
Sometimes, Tournier explains, this arousal comes only through severe dealings, which are necessary to lead men to the experience of repentance and grace. He writes, “For a man crushed by the consciousness of his guilt, the Bible offers the certainty of pardon and grace. But to one who denies this it bears terrible threats in order to make him introspect himself” (Guilt and Grace, p. 145).
Tournier then refers to God’s words in the Book of Jeremiah: “I will bring judgment upon you because of your saying, ‘I have not sinned'” (Jer. 2:35). The aim of “operation severity,” Tournier says, “is not the crushing of the sinner but, on the contrary, his salvation. For that, God must pull him out of the vicious circle of his natural attempts at self-justification” (Guilt and Grace, p. 146).
In coming to terms with yourself, you must consider your relationships to the people and events in your life. Because mental health is related to your attitudes toward people, it is not a matter primarily for the physician. The Bible–not medical books–holds the key. God’s Word deals with one’s relationships with others, with standards of conduct, with emotions, with the deep issues of life, with the heart of a man before God. The struggle for peace is a spiritual matter, involving your soul or spirit and how you react to the things that come your way. The source of peace involves your relationship to God.
This information is an excerpt of Chapter 1, “Mental Health – Whose Problem?” from Dr. Brandt’s book The Struggle for Inner Peace currently available as an e-book.