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, MLB). 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.
Questions for review:
- Not adjusting well to people or events in our lives is commonly called the “mental health” problem. Can you think of a time when you were made irritable or anxious by seemingly trivial events or circumstances?
- What kind of a picture does the Bible paint of a person who draws his or her strength from God?
- Can you see any connection between physical illnesses and emotional stress in your own life or in the lives of your family members or friends?
- What is one of the great barriers to finding relief from anxiety?
- How does the author define the struggle for inner peace and what holds the key to finding it?
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