A young woman comes to see me in my office, concerned for her child, who is having night terrors. “Is it demonic?” she asks.
A businessman pulls me aside in the church foyer and confesses that he’s been apathetic and lethargic lately. “Is this a sin issue?” he wonders aloud.
A young man is hearing voices in his head and is becoming increasingly manic in his mood swings. “Is it chemical?” he asks, through tears.
I’ve been asked questions like these hundreds of times. Maybe you have too. But these questions presuppose the idea that there must be one answer to the question. I think this is partly because we hope that our issue can be resolved like a neat and tidy episode of the Cosby Show.
Let’s say I’m struggling with sadness and maybe even depression. Is my problem:
a. A sin issue
b. A demonic oppression
c. A chemical imbalance of some sort
d. A lack of faith on my part
e. A difficult season of my life producing predictable emotions for a person in my position
f. That I’m believing lies about myself, life, and God
g. A co-dependency issue in my relationships
h. I need more of the Holy Spirit
i. I’m being bound by my past
Almost no one would include an “all of the above” option. We tend to fall into theological camps that buy wholesale into one system of interpretation. There are camps that are big into spiritual warfare, for example and to them, almost everything is demonic and must be resisted, attacked, and defeated. The sin camp people think it’s something to confess, renounce, and walk away from. The medical community says it’s just a matter of restoring chemical equalibrium via the latest drug or herb regimen. The name it and claim it folks think I just need more faith. A counselor might think it’s a past issue with my mother or that I’m codependent somehow. A prayer ministry guru thinks I’m believing lies that are keeping me captive. A charismatic thinks I need a fresh anointing or filling of the Spirit of God.
What if… to some degree, in most situations… they all are?
What if our chemical balances really do effect our mental and emotional health, which in turn effects our spiritual health? What if Satan loves to piggyback difficult situations to make them more unbearable than they’d have to be? What if my chemical balance is out of whack because I’ve been believing emotionally charged lies about myself and what if I’ve been sinning to try to soothe the ache in my soul? What if I’ve been living independently of Christ and need to surrender in a fresh way to God’s Spirit so that he can fill me with a new power and vision for Jesus?
What if there’s no one right answer, and what if many times, there is truth in almost any suggestion? What if learning to do what we can to address each facet of each issue is part of what it means to face an issue with integrity and maturity?