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Sometimes our instinct is to look within ourselves to get emotionally and spiritually healthy. We scrutinize our past, take personality tests, and spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and journaling about ourselves, as if self-awareness and self-expression had inherent healing powers. We often forget, or perhaps do not even realize, that “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). With that divine diagnosis in mind, we need to realize that focusing on ourselves will not result in good emotional or spiritual health.

At other times, we may look to science and psychology to heal us, as if losing our tempers or never feeling God’s peace was simply a matter of blood chemistry or internal wiring. We search in vain for that one technique that will teach us to cope. But the best the world has to offer will do us no good apart from God’s grace, wisdom, and power.

Still other times we simply give up and believe that we can never get better, that something has been irreparably broken inside. This is an evil lie that’s meant to destroy our faith and steal our joy. Nobody is too broken for God.

Emotional health and spiritual health are possible, but both realities come from God Himself, specifically through His Word (the Bible) and the Holy Spirit. The Bible has real answers for us, containing “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). It teaches us the Gospel, showing us how to be in right relationship with God, which is the only way we can have true spiritual health. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we get to know God better as we pray, read the Bible, and learn to love Him more through our obedient responses to the never-failing truth of His Word. As our love for God grows, the Holy Spirit makes us more like Jesus, who is perfect in spiritual and emotional health.

The Bible doesn’t simply give us information as other books do. Instead, it is literally “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), and the power of God is in the Word of God. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Bible literally revives (Psalm 19:7) and saves our souls (James 1:21). It guards us from sin (Psalm 119:11). It pierces through to our secret thoughts and draws out what is hidden (Hebrews 4:12). It brings joy and delights the heart (Jeremiah 15:16). It accomplishes everything for which God appoints it (Isaiah 55:11).

When we doubt the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s power to bring us emotional and spiritual health, it may be because we don’t understand the problem. The issue isn’t that we’ve been dragged down by a hard life and personal difficulties that now need to be figured out and overcome one by one. In fact, focusing on our problems is a sure way to defeat!

The issue is how we stand before God. Do we stand before God reminding Him of all the things that have gone wrong and are still wrong, or do we let Him lead? Do we let God speak into our lives? Do we let go of our own perspective and embrace God’s perspective as revealed in the Bible?

In our brokenness, we keep turning back to what we need to be healed from, but God turns us to what He’s healing us for: freedom, clean hearts, renewed minds, and abundant life in Him. The emotionally and spiritually healthy person isn’t the person without problems but, instead, is the person who daily turns away from self and circumstances and faithfully focuses on God, even when it’s hard and seems impossible.

The Bible doesn’t describe challenges of life in terms of emotional and spiritual health but, instead, addresses challenges in the context of maturity. As maturing Christians, we’re growing in our emotional self-control, our sense of security, and our ability to reach out to others. Instead of looking primarily to our own interests, we focus on trusting God rather than our ability to cope with new challenges or any other things we associate with strong emotional and spiritual health.

Psalm 1:3 describes the mature person as being “like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Like a tree with extensive roots continually soaking in good water, the psalmist says that this person is nourished and satisfied, moving through the stages of life and growing spiritually as he ought to grow. He is resilient to the changing seasons and unexpected weather patterns of life. This person is the picture of emotional and spiritual health.

Psalm 1 contrasts the healthy tree–one that is firmly rooted–to chaff, which has no roots and is swept away by external forces. The healthy tree produces sweet fruit that gives energy and life to others. Chaff, on the other hand, produces only dry leftovers.

The difference between the two is that the first seeks God, specifically delighting in God’s Word as he meditates on it continually (Psalm 1:2). Like a tree made strong by adequate sunlight, the emotionally and spiritually healthy person lives in the light of God Himself. He may be weak with few resources of his own, but because God is his refuge, he meets life with eagerness, stamina, and skill.

If you have placed your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, you have already been transformed into a new creation with a new identity. If you once were the person who was lost, weighed down by life, and fearful, you are no longer that person. As you learn to walk like the new person you are, there may be things outside of the Bible that seem good and helpful, but you will realize that only the God who knows it all and can do it all can guide you into strong emotional and spiritual health. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).

Additional Resources

John 6:63
Romans 15:4
1 Corinthians 1:18
Philippians 2:13
WordTruth Article: Divine Sufficiency or Divine Deficiency
Holy Spirit (one-page PDF)