This is actually a post based on a Bible study I helped organize about a year ago when I was part of the Catholic Student Organization at my college. We found a variety of verses that pertained to mental illness and self care, and then read them and talked about them in our Bible study group. However, here I’m going to delve into what each of them mean to me (and practice my Bible study skills while I’m at it). All of these are from the New American Bible Revised Edition, and this is the Bible I have.
1. Jonah 2:6-8
The waters surged around me up to my neck;Jonah 2:6-8, NABRE
the deep enveloped me;
seaweed wrapped around my head.
I went down to the roots of the mountains;
to the land whose bars closed behind me forever,
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD, my God.
When I became faint,
I remembered the LORD;
My prayer came to you
in your holy temple.
This verse is from just after Jonah is eaten by the whale, when he’s talking about how difficult it is to live inside of a whale (and I thought my life was hard!) God lifted Jonah out of the difficulties of his life (to me, it seems like it’s being described as hell) as he prayed, just as we should pray about everything difficult in our own lives.
2. Psalm 34:18-21
The righteous cry out, the LORDPsalm 34:18-21, NABRE
and he rescues them from all their afflictions.
is close to the brokenhearted,
saves those whose spirit is crushed.
Many are the troubles of the righteous,
but the LORD
delivers him from them all.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
I love this section. The Lord will deliver us from all of our troubles, and He is close to us even when we feel brokenhearted, or that our spirits have been crushed. What could be better than that? Especially as a person with mental illness, I think knowing that God is close to us and keeps us from broken bones – or broken brains? – is very powerful.
3. Ephesians 5:29-30
For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.Ephesians 5:29-30, NABRE
This one is a little painful for me, because it’s not always true. I have struggled with disliking or even hating myself for almost my entire life. But it’s important to remember that Christ loves us, and we are part of His church. As members of His body, we need to (try to) nourish and cherish ourselves because that is what Christ would want us to do. And I think this could even be extended to a metaphor about self care, which I wrote a bit more about here.
4. Galatians 6:2-5
Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself. Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason to boast with regard to himself alone, and not with regard to someone else; for each will bear his own load.dGalatians 6:2-5, NABRE
This one is a little difficult to see how it relates to mental illness or mental health, but it does. Some people (myself included) tend to take everyone’s burdens onto themselves. I’m always trying to help everyone else, to my own detriment. It can become quite tiring when I need to do my own thing but I have five people clamoring for my attention. I think that this verse is really saying you should take time for yourself – only Christ has to take on everyone’s burdens, but we are not as strong as Christ. However, I’m not entirely sure if that’s what this one means – please comment if you have a different view on this!
5. Isaiah 26:3-4
With firm purpose you maintain peace;Isaiah 26:3-4, NABRE
in peace, because of our trust in you.
Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
You know how sometimes you can describe somebody as your ‘rock’? Well that’s exactly what Isaiah is asking us to do here. He’s telling us that God is our rock. He will stand by us through anything and we can talk to Him about anything – because He created us and loves us.
6. Philippians 2:1-8
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.Philippians 2:1-8, NABRE
The way I see this verse is mostly from the last line – don’t think too highly of yourself. It’s important to look out for yourself, but it’s also important to not consider yourself to be more important or better than everyone else. This one seems to deal more with general emotions than mental illness in particular, although it can be said that many mental illnesses present with having a lack of interest in yourself.
7. Romans 3:22-23
For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.Romans 3:22-23, NABRE
This is a bit similar to the previous one – although you might think you’re the worst person in the world, you’re not. Others have sinned just as you have, but God is going to forgive us all in the end.
8. 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.2 Corinthians 12:9, NABRE
Don’t act too proud, just like number 6. If we talk about our weaknesses more than our strengths, Christ will dwell within us – and isn’t that what we want?
9. Matthew 10:29-31
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.Matthew 10:29-31, NABRE
I really like this one as well (well, I suppose I like all of them!) Jesus is saying that we are not worthless, as we might think – God always knows what is going on with us, and He loves us. He is even counting the hairs on our heads, that is how close attention he pays to us! We are worth so much to Him, more than many sparrows.
10. Proverbs 25:13
Like the coolness of snow in the heat of the harvestProverbs 25:13, NABRE
are faithful messengers for those who send them,
lifting the spirits of their masters.
So I think this is originally meant to mean that faithful slaves/servants will help their masters feel better, but I take it to mean that friends who are faithful to you can lift your spirits. I’m not sure if there’s a deeper meaning that I’m missing – what do you think?
I hope you liked these Bible verses for mental illness and health. What are some of your favorite verses for when you feel down? Are there any I missed, or any interpretations you disagree with?