Sabbath School TodayWith the 1888 Message Dynamic
Jesus Wept: The Bible and Human EmotionsLesson 13: "Partnership With Jesus"
What is the source of good mental health? For thirteen weeks Christians all over the world have been studying about the mind and body. We are well aware of the problems that cause instability and breakdown: physical health failure, marital disharmony, family feuds, depression, bitterness and hatred, etc.
The prophet Isaiah speaking to his own generation put his finger in principle upon the human mental health problem: "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more; the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment" (Isa. 1:5, 6). The apostle diagnosed our mental condition with these words: "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God" (Rom. 8:7).
The Bible is full of psychological insights. The mental health industry is a relative newcomer on the social scene purveying its remedies to a sin-saturated world. But God has revealed the deeper meaning of the plan of salvation that goes to our root problem in the mind.
Jesus gives us His healing love through the message of the cross as our Heavenly Psychiatrist from the inner compartment of the heavenly sanctuary. For sinners who are alienated from God and consequently "act up" in all sorts of childish ways, Jesus proclaims His "peace" to the troubled soul. "My peace I give unto you: ... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
Our Sabbath School lesson gives us a "catch-all" approach to what we must do in a "partnership with God" in order to enjoy good mental health. These good things include prayer, worship in community, forgiveness, service, hope, and trust in God. In our cosmic Day of Atonement Jesus draws our attention away from ourselves so that we may "see" what He is doing in His special-operations "field tent" to win the great controversy. He gives us faith so that we can learn to believe that He is reconciling our alienated hearts and minds by His agape.
Psychology has learned that the reason why people behave badly is because of their subconscious alienation. Illustrating this to young people is easy. Just pull up a weed from the backyard and what do you see? If all you have is the top, the weed will just grow right back to spoil the lawn. Pull up the weed with the long taproot and the problem is solved.
The taproot of sin is a self-centered mind that wants its own way. "They love their own way, and forsake the way of the Lord" (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 468). The 1888 message of God's pardoning love for the whole race of sinners is joined to the cleansing of the sanctuary truth. The Holy Spirit is convicting our "corporate conscience" as a "remnant" people of our self-centeredness. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not ..." (Rev. 3:17). It is the same in principle as the attitude of "once saved, always saved"--a cocksure dependence upon self. This is the taproot of our alienation from God that needs Jesus' gift of atonement.
The way to good mental health is through the sufferings of Christ. "Of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men [and women], fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor" (The Desire of Ages, p. 225).
Do you know your Heavenly Psychiatrist? Maybe you say, "I'm not crazy, I don't need a psychiatrist. The Lord can just 'zap' me. He can just magically remove my sin."
But the Lord Jesus doesn't treat us as mental zombies without our cooperation. The great controversy principle teaches that Christ elicits our choice in the expulsion of sin. It's called learning to believe good news. "The gospel of Christ ... is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16).
We cannot avoid the pain involved in overcoming sin with Christ. "Happiness is not a mindless, vacuous euphoria. A grand piano makes beautiful music because its strings are under constant tension. The Lord does not propose to remove your memory tensions, but to give you strength from Christ to bear them in such a way that your life makes music by triumphing over the pain" (Robert J. Wieland, "Questions People Ask," 1888 Message Newsletter, Sept. 1987, p. 5).
Think of the painful memories Christ must carry of the sufferings of His cross--the cruel rejection, the heartless scourgings, the mockery, the abuse, the pain, the horror of that great darkness, the guilt He felt as He was "made to be sin for us, who knew no sin." Does He forget all that? No, He remembers it but also triumphs over it. Thus He can "succor" [help] others (Heb. 2:18).
Hold your head high, for you are a partaker with Christ in His sufferings. Accept the comfort for you in what Paul writes: "I am completing what still remains for Christ to suffer in my own person" (Col. 1:24, REB).
How can you "give something so deeply ingrained in your psyche to Him"? As your High Priest, Christ is your divine Psychiatrist. You could go to an ordinary psychiatrist and pay over a $100 an hour. He would listen as you verbally articulate all your fears, horrors, and resentments. Such therapy would run into weeks and months. But Christ charges you nothing; and what a thousand psychiatrists can't do for us, He will do in a few moments' time.
On your knees, verbalize and articulate these memories and fears. Learn from Job, David, and Jeremiah, how to pray. Out with everything before Him alone! Guard against the tendency to lay the burdens on other people--they can't endure them. Unload all the evil onto the divine Sin-bearer. I guarantee that He will listen and He will respond. He will give you peace of heart, but with it He will give something vastly more precious--compassion and understanding of how to comfort other people (1 Peter 5:7-10; Psalm 37).
Someone who loves you more than life itself is waiting for you with open arms.
--Paul E. Penno
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