The Bible wants us to know that God is unique. As the Creator, as the One Who Does Marvelous Deeds, as our Salvation, God is alone. Whether you believe or not, whether you honor Him or not, He is the only one whose reality truly matters. All else comes from God and is held together by God.
This includes our hope, our safety, and our protection. Healing, too. I am safe in God alone. I heal because God heals. I am loved because God loves. I am alive because God spoke my name into existence.
I’ve heard this truth used to convince people not to seek the healing of a physician. Or not to speak with a counselor. Those with mental illness run into a wall sometimes as this concept is taken to extremes. Pray and read your Bible, they say, and that will bring about mental health. Any other direction is godlessness.
God alone doesn’t mean that God never uses mundane means to work in our lives. In fact, those mundane means are straight from God’s hand. If God is the creator of all and the one who holds it all together, then it seems the tools and rhythms and reality of this world are His, too.
The World is God’s
Let’s look at Psalm 65.
You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.
And how about what God says in Genesis 8?
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”
The physical world around us was put into place by God. The plants, animals, and chemicals in this world—God did that. If man manipulates the resources of the world to make a house, nobody complains. When man manipulates resources to make a car, we fork over a lot of money to get our hands on one.
But when man manipulates resources to heal the mind… Some have a problem with that. The body is allowed to get sick, at least in most doctrines, and the sick body may seek relief from a physician. But when the mind and soul are sick… Well, this one seems to be a gray area to some people, and they hesitate to trust it to the tools God placed in this world.
Care by God alone
I love the fact that God alone takes care of me. Let’s set aside the question of medicating or treating the mentally ill and see what the Bible has to say about God’s care, and then we’ll circle back around, because this is important. We can’t discount that it honestly says God alone cares for us, but we sure can get wrong what that care might look like.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. Psalm 16:5 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Psalm 25:15
David wrote all of these verses. David trusted God like nobody else. He called on God, asked God for guidance, and believed God would rescue him, because David was the shepherd of God’s people, and it never once occurred to him that God might abandon His people.
These verses might make it look like David, the king of God’s people, prayed and spent time in the tabernacle and did nothing else, that he didn’t use armies or security guards or battle plans. He had God, right? Wasn’t that enough? It says God Alone.
Nope. David had armies. He had advisors and strategized. He trained in very physical, non-spiritual ways so his armies would be valuable on the battlefield. Although he trusted God and asked God for help—fully expecting it—he also felt he had a role to play. For the most part, wars are won by armies, so David had armies. Yes, there were a few miraculous battles where God intervened in interesting ways, but usually God used David’s well-trained armies to win the battles. And when Israel sinned, sometimes God let David come against better-trained armies, and Israel lost. The outcome was always God’s.
Safe in God alone didn’t mean to David that he had no role to play in God’s plans.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul scolds the church for its divisions. Some followed Paul, and others Apollos, and so forth. Paul has this to say in 1 Corinthians 3:7
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
Paul treats the work of God as David does. He spoke words to people, imploring them to trust God. He traveled town to town—sometimes at great risk—to speak where God wanted him to speak. This guy worked hard. But the outcome—that’s God’s alone.
Maybe it isn’t that God does all things alone, but the outcome is God’s alone.
The Bible is filled to the brim with commands, and most of these are action verbs. At the same time, He warns against laziness. We are not to sit in a chair in the dark and hope God will work things out. No, we have roles to play. We have good deeds to do. We participate at every level to aid God in building a kingdom.
So, is a doctor who prescribes medication for someone with a sick brain working against God? Is a counselor who helps a lost soul find his way working against God? Or might they be doing the work of the kingdom so those in distress can heal and then turn around and do what they are meant to do?
Can this go wrong?
The fear is always that we will go to the world first, that we see medicines or techniques or counselors as those who provide the outcome, that they cease to be tools used by God and become the gods themselves. That’s what David was saying about trusting in horses and armies. He says the same thing about rulers, that we cannot think a good leader can save anyone. The tools must remain tools, even when those tools are people.
The outcome is always God’s alone. We can’t ever forget that, or the other things become idols.
For me, most psychiatric drugs don’t do much good. That’s because they are tools, and for me they are the wrong tool. It’s okay if, when I ask God for healing—or for anything—I glance around and see what resources He has set in my path. Remember those first verses? He set the world on a course, gave it rhythms, and allows us to work with what he gave us. He told us to work the earth and subdue it, to use what we were given.
Can we abuse what God gave us? Absolutely. Some chemicals are illegal because they cause harm. You can’t buy a nuclear weapon at Wal-Mart. Technology can be abused. But so can food. So can love. So can every single thing God put on this world. We are good at abusing things, but that doesn’t mean everything made by man should be thrown out.
Different outcomes in different situations
God didn’t make us all the same, so the variety of resources can be put together in different ways by different people for different purposes. This world is crazy complex for a reason. A complex God is going to make a complex world with complex problems and complex solutions. That’s actually a good thing. Who wants a simple God? I choose my powerful, complicated, gloriously big, outrageously loving God any day.
So I can work with what He gave me when I solve problems. If I need to plan something, I can use a planning system made by a human. I can choose one of many depending on what I need. If I want a tomato, I can buy a tomato from someone who worked the soil and grew one for me. Maybe he used a fertilizer. Maybe he watered with a hose and not just the rain. And maybe this farmer couldn’t care less about God. I can still appreciate that tomato.
Because that tomato could not have grown except God put the resources and the rhythms in place to make it happen—warm and cold, sun and moon, seasons and soil. Same with the planning system–it came from the mind of a human created by the God of the universe. I can look at it, decide if it’s what I need, and use it.
My summer failure
Last year nothing in my yard grew well. We had drought followed by crazy hard rain followed by drought. The only thing I could grow with any consistency was fungus, and it killed everything.
I did what I could do, but the outcome was God’s. The weather was His. The growth or lack of growth, even with all the tools I’d been given, was never mine. Some summers those tools lead to beautiful gardens. Some summers they don’t.
Because the outcome is God’s alone. Whatever tools I use, God is still God alone, and He alone still holds it all together in his hand and guides His creation.
You are loved
You are not a garden or a tomato or a house. You are a beloved child of God. The tools and resources of this world work for you. The outcome for you is always good. Is it pain-free? Does it move in a straight line of goodness from beginning to end? Nope. Some of us die young, and that doesn’t feel like it works with us. Many of us know illness or injury that lingers our whole lives. Some of us are poor or rejected or oppressed.
But God still holds the outcome. I look forward to the greeting at Heaven’s door with love and hugs (No, the hugs aren’t Biblical, but since Jesus put His hands on the unclean to heal them on this earth, I trust He will put His hands on us when we finally cross the finish line.). Whatever happens on the journey, the end is set. That’s my hope, and that hope is, and always will be, in God alone.
The end of the matter…
I live in safety. I have hope and know where that hope comes from. The journey can be long and twisted. It has its share of frustration. Talk to Jesus about that—He lived the same kind of life. Likely yours won’t include the horrors of his, like taking on the sins of the world. Jesus promised that our lives wouldn’t be easy. Not the happiest promise, but it was honest.
And yet, He says his yoke is light. He says not to be afraid. We read that God alone watches us, and God alone does marvelous deeds. God alone called the world into existence and holds it together.
You are in good hands. You may use the tools God placed in your path. They are here for you. You may cry to Him when the road is dark and twisted and difficult. He promises to hear and come and hold onto you.
But ultimately, you sleep and rise again because of God. The outcomes are His, and because you are loved, you can trust the outcome is a good one, worth every difficult step along the way.