Psychological Health

Psychology literally means “the study of the soul”, derived from the terms ψυχή — psukhē, “breath, spirit, soul” and λογία — logia, “study of” or “research”.  In our New Testament Scriptures, the word psukhē is most often translated soul, and it would do us well to find out from the Creator of the human soul those things that will cultivate psychological, or soul health.

Now from the Scriptures, we will not find a mere academic study, but we will find practical instructions that, if followed by believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, contain a promise from the God of Peace that the believer will have the protection of the peace of God.

I do not wish to diminish problems faced by anyone, nor do I in anyway wish to say that the struggles that people face are not real.  Quite the contrary, the struggles with the soul that so many face are very real, but so is the way to cultivation of health.  It is not merely saying these things to yourself and hoping for a “magic change”, or “trust Jesus and all of your problems will go away”, but actually by faith appropriating that which God has indeed promised to the members of the Body of Christ, and then acting on that which you believe, even if it seems impossible.

Philippians 4:4–13

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

An Ode to Psychological Health, or “It is Well with my Soul”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

—Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

steamshipThis hymn was not written by a man “in a good place” in his life.  If you are not familiar with the story that caused Horatio Spafford to write it, look it up.  He did not write from good feelings, he wrote, and we can tell from the content, from trust in the truth of Scripture, and in spite of the “dark night of the soul” inspired by the circumstances that surrounded him.  Sound (healthy) doctrine did not give him just “head knowledge” nor simple “intellectual assent”.  The sound theology allowed sound psychology — a healthy soul.  This is no mere “soteriology”, but “[Christ] shed His own blood for my soul”!  It is not merely “eschatology”, but “Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait”, and “Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul”!

This is how faith sustains us in spite of our circumstances.  We can rejoice in the Lord always, because God is our Father, Christ is our Savior, and heaven is our hope.  The Lord is “at hand”, or near, so we can trust Him in life, in death, and in all points in between.

Praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord, O my soul!

Further Comments

Even psychosomatic (psycho — soul, soma — body, i.e., “soul-body”) illnesses are indeed real, and the cure is not to medicate the body, or the soma, but the soul:

Proverbs 17:22 — “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

The body, soul, and spirit are not separate components that make up you, but they all three are you.  The Lord is very interested in all three, and cares for the well being of all three. We can trust Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 — “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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