I do not believe I have divulged this information here before, but I am a mental health counselor. I see around fifteen clients per week struggling with everything from bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, marital … you name it. I do work in a Christian environment, so from time to time the question of how God allows such debilitating conditions to exist comes up. I believe this question has a perfectly understandable Biblical answer.
In the beginning God created our world perfectly – no disease, no death. He gave us everything we needed to survive and thrive in a paradise world. Through our pride we chose the only option He told us not to and it changed everything. God said that choosing that path would bring death. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit they did not die immediately – but the process of decay began. I believe at this point (as the Tree of Life is taken away) the overall concept of the 2nd law of thermodynamics (all things move from order to disorder when left to themselves) starts affecting humans.
Just because Adam & Eve did not die on the very day they ate the fruit is irrelevant. They would have certainly begun feeling the effects of the minor decays in their system. Things as simple as allergies would not have existed before. We now know that these decays in our system (or you could call them errors) is called mutations. As we pass on our genetic information, we go through mutations. Most mutations are either neutral or harmful. As the years have added up, so have mutations. This also helps us understand how close relatives could intermarry in the early days of humanity as described in the Bible. These mutational errors had not accumulated as much in this time. Mutations can affect everything from physical characteristics to emotional states. Therefore mental illness is one of the results of thousands of years of mutational accumulation in our genetics.
If mental illness is the result of mutational decay, then it can all be traced back to the prideful sin of man… not God. He never wanted us to suffer through these debilitating diseases and disorders. That was not His plan, but He did allow us the opportunity to choose with a clear warning of the results of that choice. If, as a client of mine, you are mad at God for cursing you with a mental illness – it’s not the God of the Bible – he grieves with you for the world you’ve inherited. BUT the story doesn’t end there. He grieved so much for that paradise lost that He sent His son to pay the price to defeat the enemy of death. In this life we will still have to endure the temporary decay and suffering that comes from it, but through Jesus’s sacrifice we are promised restoration to His original design.
A word of warning for those who may be reading but still confused. Many Christians and Christian leaders have compromised the word of God with the doctrines of men, specifically evolution. In an evolutionary worldview – God used decay, suffering, and death for millions of years to accomplish the creation of man (before sin). This defies the entire explanation above. I can’t help you understand mental illness through that worldview. There are no Biblical answers for you other than God wanted you to go through this for a reason. That is a pretty horrible God and I would agree with you in being angry at Him. But thankfully, that is not the God the Bible describes. That is a version of God that has been reinterpreted unfortunately. Therefore a literal understanding of Genesis is AGAIN required to understand the world we live in. All other philosophies fail.
Even the presence of increasing diseases and mental illnesses defy an atheistic evolutionary worldview where we are supposedly increasing in function and debilitating conditions are selected out in the next generation. Some opponents will say “we are the best off we’ve ever been with medicine today” – but doesn’t that just beg the question of why we need more and more doctors and medicine?? It’s a smokescreen to avoid the issue that things are actually getting worse. Decay continues today and cannot be answered by atheists or Christian evolutionists. The only answer compatible with the loving God described in the Bible comes through a literal interpretation of Genesis.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33