Mood disorders such as bipolar are now becoming commonly known, because some famous celebrities have drawn attention to them. For example, you have the actors Jim Carrey and Robert Pattinson, the musician Britney Spears, and the actress Linda Hamilton, to mention just a few. Mental health experts say that there are over 500 million people the world over, who suffer from major depression. Depression is a psychiatric disorder showing symptoms such as persistent feelings of hopelessness, dejection, poor concentration, lack of energy, inability to sleep, and, sometimes, suicidal tendencies.

Depression may have been dubbed the “common cold of mental health,” but the mental health buzzword these days is bipolar disorder, possibly because it’s often associated with creativity, verve, and charisma. Sometimes called manic depression, the disorder affects about 2.5% of the adult U.S. population and can cause extreme mood changes—from manic episodes of very high energy to extreme lows of depression.[1]

Yes, the last ten years has seen a tremendous rise in the awareness of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder characterized by extreme mood swings, ranging between episodes of acute euphoria mania and severe depression.

The fact that there are extreme mood swings, ranging between episodes of acute euphoria mania and severe depression, can be even more devastating. During the severe depression, the person may have suicidal thoughts, while the manic phase may see a rational person lose all rationality, as they are at times unaware of the harm they are causing. “About 2.5% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of bipolar disorder – nearly 6 million people.”[2]

 Bipolar Manic-Depressive

In many cases, there are normal periods, then weeks feeling like they are on top of the world (manic mood), followed by a relentless depression, and a return to normalcy. However, there is what is known as “rapid cyclers,” who move between moods numerous times per year. “About 10% to 20% of people with bipolar disorder have rapid cycling.”[3] However, the length of each high and low mood cycle differs greatly from one person to the next person.

The Depressive Phase

If the person is not being treated for their bipolar disorder, he or she will experience powerful episodes of depression. Symptoms may include sadness, anxiety, persistent feelings of hopelessness, dejection, poor concentration, lack of energy, inability to sleep, and, sometimes, suicidal tendencies. The sufferer will not even enjoy activities that they would normally love. They may gain or lose weight. They may spend days in bed, without even getting up to take a shower.

Consider Cindy, a young Christian woman, who lived with extreme feelings of hopelessness, “There are times when I was at Christian gatherings,” she says, “when I would just start bawling for no reason at all, and run into another room, because this devastating sense of loneliness and sadness would come over me, even though I was surrounded by friends.”

The Manic Phase

When the manic phase comes along, the sufferer gets a euphoric feeling, which leads to the misleading sense that they can do anything. This gives them a self-esteem that is out of control, going days without sleep, resulting in feeling that are anxious, nervous, or disturbed. During this phase, they will be far more talkative, distracted by every passing thought, causing them to change to unrelated subjects numerous times in one conversation. Moreover, they will live life more recklessly, as they go on spending sprees, have casual sex with people they barely know, reckless driving at high speeds, as well as substance abuse. If you have three or more of these symptoms in seven-day period, you may want to see a mental health professional, as it indicates a manic episode.

Julie remembers her first manic episode. “I had superhuman levels of energy that was out of control, she says. “My friends were envious of all that I could accomplish in a given day, which made them want to be more like me. This gave me the feeling of being powerful, believing there was nothing I could not do. I signed myself up for many activities that week, and it appeared as though I could do them all. I signed up at the local fitness center and exercised feverishly. I sent three days without sleep, and the nights I could sleep, it was for a mere three hours. I would be on the computer in the evening, and before I knew it, it was 3:00 am in the morning. I could get up from a night of two hours sleep, feeling as rested as if I had gotten eight.”

Bipolar I Versus Bipolar II

Those who suffer from Bipolar 1 disorder have at least one manic or mixed episode followed by one or more depressive episodes. Those who suffer from Bipolar 2 disorder have at least one episode of hypomania and at least one episode of major depression, but the depressive episode is more severe, with a less severe manic episode. They experience hypomania, a condition of mild mania or overexcitement, or it just does not last that long. They come across as full of charm and humor. However, this mild mania or overexcitement can lead to mania or depression.

Mixed Episode of Depression and Mania

People with mixed episodes experience features of both mania and depression, such as agitation, anxiety, fatigue, guilt, impulsiveness, irritability, morbid or suicidal thoughts, panic, paranoia, pressured speech and rage. This leads to erratic conduct, such as an episode of sadness while they are involved in one of their favorite activities, or even a moment of sadness while they are full of energy. Mixed episodes are more common among the younger bipolar sufferers, such as the teenage years. However, some mental health experts have said that as much as 70 percent of all bipolar patients experience mixed episodes.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Most doctors will admit that bipolar disorder is more of a mystery than anything is, as they are not exactly sure of the cause. According to the Dr. Burns, “With regard to bipolar (manic-depressive) illness, the evidence is quite strong: genetic factors seem to play a strong role. For example, if one identical twin develops bipolar manic-depressive illness, the odds are high that the other twin will also develop this disorder (50 percent to 75 percent). In contrast, when one of two nonidentical twins develops bipolar (manic-depressive) illness, the odds that the other twin will develop the same illness are lower (15 percent to 25 percent). The odds of developing bipolar illness if a parent or nontwin sibling has this disorder are around 10 percent. All these odds are considerably higher than the odds that someone in the general population will develop bipolar illness, the lifetime risk is estimated at less than 1 percent.” (Burns 199, 428-9) The leading theory of cause is that there is an abnormal chemical imbalance in the brain. It is thought that a manic episode is the result of certain chemical becoming too high while a depressive episode is the result of certain chemical becoming too low.

The Daily Life of a Sufferer of Bipolar Disorder

Actually, there really is no daily life for one that has not been diagnosed and received treatment. Life is disrupted at both work and home, even by the one that is receiving treatment. Almost 90 percent of sufferers have said that their careers are in jeopardy because of the disorder. Co-workers and especially supervisors are not as committed as family and friends so that mood swings can affect a relationship. At home, intense episodes of mania can even push family and friends away. For example, manic sufferers tend to blurt out exactly what is on their mind, which can be quite embarrassing in the company of others. Then, there is the fact that those who suffer from bipolar disorder are more likely also to suffer from anxiety disorder as well.

Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder

Mental health professionals show that about 60 percent of those suffering from bipolar disorder have or are also abusing alcohol or drugs, in an effort to alleviate the emotionally painful symptoms of the two moods. This is especially true of those in the wild and thoughtless manic phase.

Suicide and Bipolar Disorder

Ten to twenty percent of the people who suffer with bipolar disorder are more likely to commit suicide[4] than people without the illness. Some signs that a loved one might be contemplating suicide are (1) talking about it, (2) putting their affairs in order, and (3) risking their lives unnecessarily. We should never dismiss persons who mention suicide, as “they would never do that.” If ever you are the one thinking of taking the precious gift of life that God gave you, immediate call your pastor, or go to the emergency room.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

An initial process is ruling out anything else that may be causing the extreme mood swings. “These may include brain infection or other neurological disorders, substance abuse, thyroid problem, HIV, ADHD, side effects of certain medications, or other psychiatric disorders.”[5] There is no diagnosing bipolar disorder with a blood test or an X-ray. Instead, the mental health professional must delve into their thinking, judgment, and behavior, a careful history and evaluation, monitored over a period of time.

Medications for Bipolar Disorder

Some sufferers need medications if they are going to live free of mood swings. Mood stabilizers, such as lithium, can suppress swings between mania and depression. In addition, the patient may be prescribed antipsychotic drugs (such as olanzapine), or anticonvulsant drugs, such as phenobarbital or primidone. Between severe episodes of mania and depression, the patient will usually be given medications to avoid a relapse.

The fact that one has to take medication, this should never been seen as some sort of weakness. Taking medication for bipolar disorder is no different from taking medication for diabetes. Would we suggest to a diabetic that they are some sort of failure, because they need to take insulin shots every day? Scarcely! The sufferers taking medications to balance the brain’s chemicals, so that they are not too high or not too low, is no different than taking a vitamin to balance the body’s nutrients.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to help the sufferer to stay on their medications, train them to overcome irrational thinking, maintain a healthy diet, avoid such things as coffee and alcohol, which interfere with the effectiveness of medication, as well as give them tools to help with family and work. They will be given skills to help with changing thoughts and behaviors. Part of the talk therapy as it is know is to help the patient find a rhythm to their daily routines, to build strong personal relationships.

Tips for Bipolar Disorder Sufferers

Living by a rigid routine will help the patient better manage their bipolar disorder. This means finding the time of night, which will allow for sufficient sleep. There is the temptation to stay up later than one should, which throws the whole schedule into disarray. In addition, the patient should eat meals at the same time every day, as well as a regular exercise schedule. As was mentioned earlier alcohol and coffee will affect the medications effectiveness, they are to be avoided. Moreover, the sufferer should get to know the signs of when a manic or depressive episode is coming. This will allow them an opportunity to get in to see their therapists before a life of disarray takes over.

Educating Family and Friends

While immediate family and close friends may be aware of your mood swings, one you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they should be educated about your condition. This will lessen their worry over depressive episodes, and the manic ones will be better understood. Moreover, they will be able to make allowances for your actions, being more forgiving and compassionate, knowing that they are outside of your control at times. In addition, they can offer you the support of staying with the things that allow you to live a more stable life.

  Guidance From God’s Word

Psalm 94:17-19, 22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 If Jehovah had not been my help,
my soul would soon have dwelt in silence.
18 When I thought, “My foot is slipping,”
your steadfast love, O Jehovah, held me up.
19 When disquieting thoughts are many,
your consolations delight my soul.

22 But Jehovah has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.

94:16–19 The way of the psalmist is not one of resignation nor of acquiescence before the workers of evil. He may hope for someone in the land to stand up for him and with him against the wicked—Who will rise up for me? he asks. Are there not many in the nation who stand for justice, honesty, integrity, and decency? Surely there must be, if only they would rise together and let their influence be felt.

Apparently the psalmist received little help from officials in the land. There is little doubt that at least some of them were themselves ringleaders in evil. And where were the people of God? Could it be that they just didn’t want to get involved? Were they completely intimidated? Or were they divided into so many sects that their influence was dissipated in their struggle to maintain and to justify their differences rather than to stand united in their opposition to evil?

Whatever the case may have been, in his own experience, the author of Psalm 94 received little encouragement from any of his countrymen. Yet, he did not despair, because he had help from a higher source. Hear his testimony: Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death (v. 17). The preservation of his life, he is certain, is due to God’s help. Only God’s love (חֶסֶד, esed, “covenant love/loyalty”) kept him from slipping over the brink (v. 18).

When the wicked continue to go unpunished, though they continue to heap injustice and abuse upon the innocent, questions arise. Where is justice to be found? Why does this happen to me? Why doesn’t somebody do something? Why doesn’t God do something? We may well believe that questions such as these occurred in the mind of the psalmist, for he admits to many “thoughts,” “cares,” or “anxieties” (שַׂרעַפַּי, śar˓apay, “disturbing, disquieting thoughts”; NIV, “anxiety”). Nevertheless, none of them could long depress his spirit, none could overpower the joy and delight that were his, for God did not cease to sustain him and to provide comfort to his soul (v. 19).

F. Justice for the Innocent (94:20–23)

94:20–21 The psalm closes on a note we might liken to a great clap of thunder. Remember the opening grand appeal of verse one: “Shine forth.… Rise up!” Yahweh has shown himself to be a “God of vengeance.” (He will certainly bring evildoers to judgment!) This reality calls for confidence on the part of the community who even now must pray to God for help because of the evil prevalent in the land. Confidence in God should be strengthened by the psalmist’s personal testimony, to God’s sustaining grace in his own case. For him, at least, the outcome is inevitable. It is no contest.

The question with which the conclusion begins is rhetorical. Can a corrupt throne be allied with you? (v. 20a). Can the doers of evil claim to be in partnership with God and to have the “law” on their side? Preposterous! Can those who connive together against the righteous, who condemn the innocent to death, can they claim any fellowship with God? No way!

94:22–23 God stands with the innocent. “This is the way it is,” the psalmist is saying, “I myself have found it to be so”; the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge (v. 22). The implication is that God will be the same to others also, who seek him. And as for the wicked? God will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them (v. 23). The evil that they devised for others shall fall upon them. The word “repay” (וַיָּשֶׁב, wayyāšeb, “and he shall cause to return”) acts as an inclusio word with verse 2 (הָשֵׁב, hāšēb, “cause to return,” “pay back”). The verb, “destroy,” (צמת, mth, in the causative form “to destroy, ruin, corrupt, silence”) used twice in verse 23 emphasizes, indeed, that Yahweh is a “God of vengeance.” The verb also acts as an inclusio idea with verses 1–2, the introduction to the psalm. This is what the psalm is all about![6]

Psalm 72:12-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and the lives of the needy he will save.

72:12–14 Help for the Needy and the Oppressed. It is significant that these verses open with the conjunction “for” (or “because”), in Hebrew כִּי (). Here are stipulated the reasons for the worldwide acclaim accorded to God’s righteous king, acclaim that is his, as Rotherham says, “because he deserves it”! The forgotten masses and those suffering oppression and violence are no longer ignored. Their cries are heard and answered. He will rescue them from oppression and violence. The verb גָּאַל (gā˒al, “redeem, avenge, ransom”) describes the action of the kinsman-redeemer on the part of a blood relative. In some circles “Life is cheap.” But every life is of concern to the righteous king, who can look upon the destitute even as near-of-kin. Precious is their blood in his sight. Help for the last, the least, and the lost will be abundantly provided in his kingdom.[7]

Romans 8:38-39 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

38. Paul comes to the end of this eloquent section on a very personal note with his I am convinced. The verb expresses certainty; Paul sees no possible shadow of doubt. And the perfect points to a permanent state. This is no passing whim. The apostle proceeds to make his point by listing potential candidates for separating us from God’s love. If none of these can effect a separation, then why should believers fear? They are assured that God will always keep them secure in his great love.175

Paul has ten items in his list. The manuscripts vary a little, but he seems to arrange them in four pairs, along with two single items. The first pair is death and life. Death is an obvious antagonist, for people have always feared it. It is so certain and so final. It is obvious that no one can escape it, and it is easy to be scared of what lies on the other side. “God is there in all his love”, Paul is reasoning. He could say “I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31). He could say “to die is gain”, and he looked forward to dying and being with Christ (Phil. 1:21, 23). For him death might be a grim tyrant, but there is no reason why the believer should fear it. We may be puzzled at life occurring in this list, but it forms a natural opposite to death and it is true that, just as many fear death, so many are afraid of life. Life has persecutions and trials on the one hand and it has tranquillity and pleasures on the other, and any of these could be the means of seducing us from the path of service. But nothing in life can stop God from loving us.

So it is with angels and demons. We may be surprised to find angels in such a list, but good angels seem to have been the objects of worship in some circles (Col. 2:18; cf. Rev. 22:8–9) and thus might conceivably be obstacles in the way of the believer. Perhaps we should bear in mind also that the word “angel” means “messenger” and, though in the New Testament this normally means a messenger from God, occasionally it may be an evil being (cf. Rev. 12:7). It is also possible that angels are here thought of as serving spirits over against spirits who rule (cf. BAGD). The word NIV renders demons refers to rulers, sometimes earthly and sometimes in the spiritual realm. It is the word KJV, RSV, and others render “principalities”. The problem here is that it might denote either heavenly beings or earthly rulers. NIV uses it for the realm of spirits, whereas Phillips translates “neither messenger of heaven nor monarch of earth”. Paul may have had earthly monarchs or demons exclusively in mind, but if so we have no way of knowing which. But we can be sure that he could not imagine any ruler in heaven or earth, of good character or bad, hindering the outreach of the love of God.

He moves on to the present and the future. Harrison well remarks that time is powerless against believers, “whether it be the present with its temptations and sufferings or the future with its uncertainties.” This may be what Paul had in mind, or he may be thinking of what is involved in the two ages, this present age and the age to come. But whatever time brings, the love of God triumphs. It is not quite clear what he means when he goes on to powers. The word is often used for “mighty works” or “miracles”, and such a meaning is possible here. No powerful magician can interfere with God’s love. But the word is also used of heavenly “powers” (Eph. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:22), and it seems probable that this is what Paul has in mind, though it is not easy to know precisely what such a being could be apart from angels and authorities. But perhaps in such a lyrical passage as this we should not push our distinctions too hard. Paul is saying that no angelic power of any sort can separate from God.

39. Neither height nor depth may negate the immensity of the physical universe. We can feel very small in such a vast environment, and Paul may well be assuring us that God’s love is greater still (cf. Ps. 139:8). But the terms were often used in astrology, and many scholars see some such reference here. GNB retains something of the ambiguity with “neither the world above nor the world below”. If the terms are being used with an astrological reference, Paul will be saying that neither the height (when a star is at its zenith) nor the depth (with all its unknown potential) is strong enough to separate from God’s love.

With anything else in all creation Paul abandons specifics and settles for a sweeping generalization wide enough to cover everything else that exists. He does not say “will separate” but will be able to separate; he is talking about power, and no created being is powerful alongside the Creator. The love of God is, of course, God’s love for us and not ours for him. And this love is explained as in Christ Jesus our Lord. We cannot know the love of God apart from Christ. The cross, and only the cross, shows what real, divine love is (cf. 5:8).[8]

Psalm 51:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

51:16–17 You do not delight in sacrifice. This verse must be read as the antithesis of verse 6 that speaks of truth in the inner being as that which God desires. This is no repudiation of sacrifices; however, no offering is acceptable to God if one’s heart is not right with him (and, in Matt 5:23–24, right with one’s fellowman). Moreover, the sacrificial system made no provision for any offering to atone for willful, deliberate sins, such as David had committed (see Num 15:22–31). For these two reasons God desires no sacrifice from David, else he would give it. All he has to offer is a broken and a contrite heart. And this (amazing grace!) God will not despise because it is precisely the kind of heart that he can bless and forgive, giving it a new life and beauty. Someone has advised: “Submit your life to God. He can do more with it than you can.” This is what David had to do. David the sinner! David the murderer![9]

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, console the discouraged,[10] support the weak, be patient toward all.

14 Moving on from the theme of loyalty within the community (vv. 12–13), Paul exhorts the believers concerning how they are to respond to various persons within the congregation: And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. This pastoral responsibility is not placed solely in the hands of the leadership but delegated to all the members of the church. Although the leaders played an important role within the congregation (v. 12), the task of maintaining the well-being of the Christian community did not fall to them exclusively. The members of the church shared a mutual responsibility to help one another for their building up in the faith (cf. 5:11; Eph. 4:16). The type of help extended to others was to respond to the particular needs of each. This kind of differentiation between people of various dispositions and the counsel concerning how to respond to each group that we find here was a theme touched on in Seneca as well. Wisdom dictated that they should not “warn the weak” nor “encourage the idle.”

The transition to this new instruction is signaled by the vocative “brothers and sisters” and the exhortation we urge you (see 4:1; 5:12 and comments). First, members of the church are called to warn those who are idle. The church is not to remain passive in the face of disorderly members but should respond to correct their conduct by admonishing them (the verb is the same as found in 5:12c; cf. Rom. 15:14; Col. 3:16; 2 Thess. 3:15). Those who are in need of this admonition are the idle (ataktous), who are not the “lazy” but rather those who are “disorderly” or “undisciplined” in the community. The term appears in such places as the gymnasiarchal law of Berea that prescribes the disciplinary measures that should be taken to correct the conduct of those of the gymnasium who do not follow the rules and who are therefore “disorderly.” The “disorderly” members of the church are most likely those who had chosen to maintain their status as dependent clients and who had opted not to respond to the teaching and the apostolic example concerning the necessity of working to earn one’s own bread (1 Thess. 4:11–12; 2 Thess. 3:6–15). In the extensive discussion of the problem in the second letter to this church, the ones who were doing no work are repeatedly spoken of as the “disorderly” (2 Thess. 3:6–7, 11). The fact that the apostles needed to return to this theme indicates that such people not only ignored the apostolic teaching but also refused to heed the correction that came from their leaders and fellow members of the community (1 Thess. 5:12, 14).

Second, the apostle exhorts the Thessalonians to encourage the timid. The timid are the “faint-hearted” or “discouraged” who were in danger of giving up. Either the adversity they suffered (1:6; 2:14; 3:3–4) or the death of the loved ones in the community (4:13–18) would have been sufficient reason for some of the members of the church to become greatly discouraged. The responsibility of the rest toward these people was to encourage them (paramytheisthe; as in 2:12 and commentary) so that they would not lose heart in the midst of their worries. These people did not need to be admonished but persuaded not to give up.

Third, the church should take care to help the weak. We do not know exactly who the weak were in this congregation. They may have been Christians who were weak physically, such as the sick among them (Matt. 25:43–44; Luke 10:9; Acts 4:9; 5:15–16; 1 Cor. 11:30), but we would expect the apostles to call for prayer for these instead of only urging the church to help them (cf. Jas. 5:14–16). On the other hand, the weak may be those Christians who had very strict scruples with regard to the externals of religion, such as eating certain foods and keeping certain days (Rom. 14:1–12; 15:1; 1 Cor. 8:7–13). Although there were tensions between “the weak” and “the strong” in more than one congregation, the Thessalonian letters give us no evidence that the church had such people in its midst. Alternatively, the weak may be those who had no social status or power since they were slaves or libertini (former slaves) or because of their economic situation. In 1 Corinthians 1:26–29 Paul uses the term in exactly this way, referring to the “weak” according to the world’s standards as those whom God has chosen. Although there were members of the Thessalonian church who had both economic and social power, we have evidence that some in the congregation faced genuine need (2 Thess. 3:13 and comments). Greek society did not consider weakness to be a virtue in any way (cf. 2 Cor. 13:4; 12:5, 9). Epictetus harshly degrades the weak, saying that “every faculty which is acquired by the uneducated and the weak is dangerous for them, as being apt to make them conceited and puffed up over it” (1:8.8). But the church’s response to the weak was to be different. The brothers and sisters were to help such people, which meant that they should take an interest in them, pay attention to them, and remain loyal to them (see Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13; Titus 1:9). Those whom society walks over and puts down are lifted up and given support by the church.

Finally, Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to be patient with everyone. How many churches would be transformed today by heeding this simple call? The exhortation is a call to be longsuffering and tolerant of others, whatever their condition or status. This virtue, which is another fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23; and see Eph. 4:2; Col. 1:11; 3:12; 2 Tim. 3:10), is the opposite of the irritability that characterizes so many human relationships. Within the church, the great diversity of social classes (slaves, libertini, and freeborn) and races (Macedonians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, and others) would have undoubtedly presented occasions in which patience needed to be exercised. In the case of the Thessalonians, the apostle may specifically have in mind the tolerance that was needed to respond in a charitable manner to the disorderly, the discouraged, and the weak. Each group had special needs that could generate reactions in others that would be out of harmony with the call to love one another. Patience was to be exercised at all times and toward everyone, whatever their situation or problem.[11]

Philippians 4:6-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds[12] in Christ Jesus.

4:6. Joy replaces anxiety in life, so Paul advises the Philippians not to be anxious about anything. The cure for anxiety? Prayer! Worry and anxiety come from focusing on your circumstances such as imprisonment or persecution which Paul and the Philippians faced. Anxiety or worry doesn’t accomplish anything, but prayer does (Jas. 5:16). Jesus warned against worry which demonstrates a lack of trust in God (Matt. 6:25–34).

4:7. The peace of God comes from prayer involving both asking God for earthly needs and thanking God for his presence and provision. The expression appears only here in the New Testament. God’s peace reflects the divine character, which lives in serenity, totally separate from all anxiety and worry. Such peace is like a squad of Roman soldiers standing guard and protecting you from worry and fret. Such peace is not a dream of the human mind. The human mind cannot even comprehend this kind of peace, wholeness, and quiet confidence. Such peace protects the two organs of worry—heart and mind that produce feelings and thoughts. Such protection is real, available in Christ Jesus. Those who do not trust and commit their life to Christ have no hope for peace.[13]

James 5:14-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire.[14] 15 Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, (5:14a)

James has covered the subject of how all Christians undergo evil in a general sense, because of inherited sin, human weaknesses and the world ruled by Satan. Now, he turns his attention to what has resulted and can result from having to deal with a bombardment of suffering through the evils of this fallen would, i.e., spiritual weakness or sickness. Almost all modern commentaries believe James is talking about physical sickness. However, Christian Publishing House does not, and it should be noted that the majority does not equal correct, as history has shown many times over that the majority can be wrong. It is the evidence that determines what is correct. We are in agreement with an older commentary, by a noted Bible scholar,

Here is the culminating point of the question whether the language of James is to be uniformly taken in a literal sense, or whether it uniformly bears a figurative character. The literal construction involves these surprising moments: 1. The calling for the presbyters of the congregation in the Plural; 2. the general direction concerning their prayer accompanying unction with oil; 3. and especially the confident promise that the prayer of faith shall restore the sick apart from his restoration being connected with the forgiveness of his sins. Was the Apostle warranted to promise bodily recovery in every case in which a sick individual complied with his directions? This misgiving urges us to adopt the symbolical construction of the passage, which would be as follows: if any man as a Christian has been hurt or become sick in his Christianity, let him seek healing from the presbyters, the kernel of the congregation. Let these pray with and for him and anoint him with the oil of the Spirit; such a course wherever taken, will surely restore him and his transgressions will be forgiven him.[15]

The spiritual sickness spoken of by James can be a direct result of continued suffering of evil, i.e., his not understanding why God has allowed evil. Or, it may be a result of his human weaknesses in that he has committed some serious sin, or is living in sin, which has him distraught to the point he feels his unrighteous condition prevents his prayers from being heard by God (Pro. 15:29; 28:9), and has sought the righteous prayers of the elders. Then again, he might have drifted away from the faith to an extent (Heb. 2:1), or he may have developed an unbelieving heart, leading him to fall away from the living God. (Heb. 3:12-13) Then again, maybe he has become sluggish in his Christian walk. (Heb. 6:12) Maybe he has endured hostility from sinners, so that he has grown weary or fainthearted. (Heb. 12:3) Moreover, some had grown weary of doing good, living in miserable, wretched, hopeless poverty, while those doing bad, lived in wealth. (Gal. (6:9) It is also true that prolonged anguish can bring about physical sicknesses as well. No one, who has suffered spiritual weaknesses should be ashamed to seek out the congregation elders, as they will be able to strengthen and fortify him with biblical counseling and prayer, so that there will be no future irrational thinking, which can lead to wrongdoing.

Acts 20:28 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.

and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (5:14b)

The father does not hear the prayers of the wicked, but he does the prayer of the righteous one. (Pro. 15:29) The loving biblical counsel and prayers from the elders (the righteous), would be like calming oil, alleviating the fears and quieting the doubts of the spiritually weak one, enabling him to feel at peace (cheerful even), in that, God is hearing the prayers. (Ps. 23:5; Jer. 8:22) The “word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) Scripture can be likened to the rubbing in of soothing oils. (Isa. 61:3) The soothing heartfelt voice of the elder as he prays to the Father will enable this weakened one to draw close to God once more. He can feel a relief of the weight he has been carrying lifted off his shoulders. He will come to realize that “Jehovah [i.e., the Father] is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18, UASV.

This meeting with the elders would not be a onetime deal, as the weakened one would be helped over time so he could make a full recovery. This would include assigning someone to shepherd him in making a full spiritual recovery. This could include rides to meetings, visiting his home once a week, and so on. The one shepherding would do so in a biblical manner and would not depend on the wisdom of this fallen world, which is foolishness to God, but rather on the Word of God. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (5:15)

Here is another reason to believe that we are talking about spiritual sickness or weakness over against the idea of physical sickness. This verse is an absolute guarantee that if the conditions are met, he will be restored. If it was physical, there could be no such guarantee, as God only miraculously heals those who have a role to play in his will and purposes. We all know of thousands that had tremendous faith, even the apostle Paul, and they still did not receive a physical healing. However, there can be an absolute guarantee when it comes to spiritual weaknesses. If a person receives prayers of faith from the elders and counsel from the Word of God, that they then apply, they can fully recover spiritually. The apostle John said, “If we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) What we have here is the fact that it must be according to God’s will and purposes, and we only have the promise that he hears us, not that he will act on it. However, if it is spiritual weakness, God will bless anyone that comes to him in faith and with a repentant heart.

Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matt. 21:22) Jesus also promised, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14) We will get what we ask for if it is according to God’s will and purposes.

Philippians 4:13 English Standard Version (ESV)

13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Bible scholar J. Vernon McGee writes:

Whatever Christ has for you to do, He will supply the power. Whatever gift He gives you, He will give the power to exercise that gift. A gift is a manifestation of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer. As long as you function in Christ, you will have power. He certainly does not mean that he is putting into your hand unlimited power to do anything you want to do. Rather, He will give you the enablement to do all things in the context of His will for you (McGee, Thru the Bible, V:327–8).

Matthew 6:30-33 English Standard Version (ESV)

30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Edward D. Andrews writes,

Have not faithful Christians gone hungry, even starved to death? Do not tens of thousands of Christian Children go to bed hungry every night around the world? Are not many Christian homes in this world lacking water? Do not many thousands of Christian families live in rundown homes, having only dirty clothes and in some cases not even having shoes?[16]

Let us also add that “the prayer of faith” alone by the elders is not going to help one recover their spiritual health. The spiritually weak one will have to evidence faith in the elder’s words and the wise counsel from the Word of God. Therefore, if one is to recover spiritually, the following conditions must be met:

(1)    “the prayer of faith” must be by elders

(2)   According to God’s will and purposes

(3)   In Jesus name

(4)   The elders must offer comfort and guidance from God’s Word

(5)   The spiritually weak one must trust in the words of the elder and Scripture, acting on both

How do serious spiritual weaknesses come about? Generally, it is by irrational thinking or some behavior that had deteriorated. It can be a minor sin, which has gone on to become a serious sin, like flirting to fornication. It can be a person, who is practicing some sin, which he alone has been unable to get control over, like pornography. Living with a secret sin can be so weighty that it causes one to stumble out of the faith. Then, there are those that allow doubts about their faith, God, or the Bible to grow to the point that they fall away from the faith into apostasy, or simply just abandon the faith. Once the weight has gotten so heavy, this one does not feel worthy of approaching God in prayer, because he believes he is beyond repentance. Thus, the loving prayers from an elder combined with corrective counsel from God’s Word will calm his spirit.

Once the elders have some idea of the depth of what lead to this spiritual sickness, they can apply Bible counsel like soothing oils. Even if the spiritually weak one has committed some very serious sin (like David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah her husband), the elders can show him how God views the matter and Scripture on how he can make a recovery. This would come from the elders as a reproof for correction and for training in righteousness of the sick one. On this point David wrote, “Let a righteous man strike me, it is a kindness; let him rebuke me, it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” God will look approvingly upon such a humble person, who is able to bring his sins to another, as well as the prayers of the righteous elders. He will be willing to remove his sins as though they never were and call them to mind no more.

Psalm 6:2-4 English Standard Version (ESV)

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.[17]

Psalm 55:22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

22 Cast your burden on Jehovah,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be shaken.

55:22 The psalm ends, however, on a note of confidence. To appreciate this, one needs to recall the psalmist’s experience—his appeals to God; the oppression, the iniquity and the wrath of his enemies; the terrors, the fear; trembling and horror he has known; his desire for flight that was denied him; and especially his betrayal by his friend. Through all of this he has come. But instead of having been crushed by the ordeal, he has a testimony to give—glorious good news to share. Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. The “cares” is better understood as “your given lot,” meaning your portion in life. Of course, such may have become a “care” or “burden.” And note that the promise is not that the burden is sure to be removed, nor that God will carry it for us. But he will sustain the one who trusts in him, enabling him to bear it. Understandably, this opening statement of verse 22 has become one of the most cherished found in the Psalms.[18]

1 Corinthians 10:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 Let each one keep seeking, not his own good, but that of the other person.

10:23–24. This section begins with a slogan that Paul had already mentioned: everything is permissible. There is a measure of truth in the slogan; Christians have much freedom in Christ. Yet, the slogan must be balanced for practical implementation. Paul did so with the qualifications that not everything is beneficial.

Beneficial and constructive are ambiguous terms at first glance. Did Paul mean beneficial to oneself or to others? In line with his previous discussion of the importance of love and humility toward others, Paul made the meaning of these terms clear: nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. Freedom in Christ must be balanced by a desire to build up and benefit Christians.[19]

Philippians 2:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests,[20] but also for the interests of others.

2:4. Looking out for our own interests comes naturally. We need, and receive, no instruction for that. We are instructed to look out for the interests of others. We are to keep an eye out to discover ways we can help others even when they do not see they need such help. The apostle stated in Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”[21]

[1] http://www.health.com/

[2] http://www.webmd.com/

[3] Ibid.

[4] suicide hotlines: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

[5] http://www.webmd.com/

[6] S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, Psalms, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 200–201.

[7] S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, Psalms, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 482.

[8] Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 340–342.

[9] S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, Psalms, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 373.

[10] Or the depressed; Lit ones of little soul

[11] Gene L. Green, The Letters to the Thessalonians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2002), 252–254.

[12] Or “your mental powers; your thoughts.”

[13] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 261–262.

[14] Or “own lust

[15] John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: James (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 138.

[16] http://www.christianpublishers.org/bible-absolutes-in-this-age

[17] Brent Calloway, James, THE BOOK OF JAMES CPH Christian Living Commentary

Volume 17 (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2015), 139-143.

[18] S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, Psalms, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 392.

[19] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 168.

[20] Lit not the (things) of themselves each (ones).

[21] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 225.