In Genesis 18:14 we read, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” This “rhetorical question” demands a NO answer. The context in which this question was asked was in connection with God’s promise to bring life out of Sarah’s dead womb, but it can be applied broadly and include healing mental illness. Surely nothing is too hard for the Lord; He can indeed heal any disease. When the Lord Jesus was here He healed every kind of disease, as we see in Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee…healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”

Having said this, we should ask the questions, “What exactly is mental illness and are there specific examples of healing mental illness in the Bible?” Today mental illness is defined as “A disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines.” There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. In the Bible mental illness was normally referred to as being “mad” or “insane.” In 1 Samuel 21:13 David pretended to be mad for fear of being recognized by his enemies. It says, “So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard” (NASB). We have a true case of insanity in Daniel 4:33-34, “The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned to me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored Him that liveth for ever…” Nebuchadnezzar clearly experienced “mental illness” for a period and then his “understanding” or “sanity” returned to him. He attributed his return to sanity to the “most High,” so this is a definite case of God healing mental illness. In the New Testament we have a unique case of mental illness and healing in Mark 5:1-15. A man was possessed by demons and in verse 5 we read, “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.” The Lord Jesus had compassion on him and cast out the demons, and in verse 15 we read that he was “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind.” He too regained his sanity by a miracle of God’s healing. These two cases are the only clear-cut examples of healing mental illness in the Bible.

We have seen that God DID heal mental illness but DOES He heal mental illness today? I believe He does, for many Christians that have suffered from bouts of depression or anxiety disorders have indeed experienced God’s healing mercies and the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7, which reads “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Others have not been directly healed and are given grace to endure the trial. Mental illness may be one’s particular “thorn in the flesh,” but the Lord would comfort them with the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” His grace would include receiving help from physicians who specialize in treating mental disorders, as well as being encouraged and comforted through the Word of God and prayer. Severe cases of mental illness, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, may not be treatable, but how precious it is to know that the day is coming when Christians suffering from these or other mental afflictions will be completely healed. I would encourage you to read Romans 8:23; 2 Corinthians 5:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:35-44; and Philippians 3:20-21. (158.4) (DO)