I recently heard from a friend she thinks Christians who have emotional wounds should not seek psychotherapy/counseling because doing so would be due to a lack of trust in God’s healing. This conversation got me wondering how so many Christians have acquired this prejudice against, not all health care services, but only that specifically related to mental health. As we continued talking about this subject, it came up that, when believers break a leg or discover they have diabetes or cataract, there usually is no second guessing the decision to go to the doctor and receive some kind of therapeutic intervention. To be treated by health care professionals is the logical and responsible thing to do when your physical health is compromised. However, when it comes to an invisible injury that affects emotional and psychological functioning, so many believe that prayer is the only true step towards healing Christians should take. The distinction between the two attitudes is intriguing to me, and it is also sad because it is hard to see fellow believers living with emotional pain for years (even decades) without seeking professional help that could bring an end to their (often secret) misery. It almost seems like there shame in asking for help, but it is actually in line with our Christian belief to do so, as it is a sign of humility.
This topic reminds me of the well-known tale of the man who sat on the roof of his house during a flood. For the few that have never heard the story, here is the idea: a man prayed and asked God to rescue him. Each time a rescue crew came – by boat, by helicopter – he refused to accept their help, stating he had faith that God would save him. At the end, he drowns in the rising waters and meets God in heaven. As they meet, the man asks Him the reason why He didn’t come and save him, when he had so much faith God would do so. God replies he did send several rescue teams in response to his prayers…
So when we ask God to heal us from our emotional pain, anxiety, or from debilitating depression resulted from a traumatic experience or a difficult loss, I wonder why there is a tendency to only allow supernatural intervention as something God would work with, and neglect the professional help that is available. Somehow, there is a stigma in many (thankfully, not all) Christian circles which gives a negative connotation to clinical counseling, even when the professional counselor is a fellow believer.
I believe that Jesus really meant it when He says He came so that we could have access to life, and not just ‘survival’ life, but abundant life. One has to see psychotherapists as a gift from God to bring His healing presence in your life, just as a knee surgeon (for example) would be. If we were all more open to seeing God move by using people as His hands and feet, we would see more born-again Christians living a full life experiencing His healing and His joy.