Soul Health

This week I've been watching the "firsts" of the new season of programming on television. Last night I watched Chicago Med. One useful piece of information popped up as the characters were playing their parts. In one conversation one senior psychiatrist asked a new psychiatry resident if she knew what the origin of the word "psychiatry" was. When she admitted she didn't know, he told her that the word originally meant "healing of the soul."

He was right: "ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from Greek psukhÄ“ ‘soul, mind’ + iatreia ‘healing’ (from iatros ‘healer’)."

My immediate thought was that it was a pity that God's business has been stolen from Him by those who can offer only temporary relief at best. I could only wish there were more Christian psychiatrists who were able to blend their skills with the Word the God and bring people toward true healing of the soul.

I appreciate the value of counseling, and know from personal experience that sometimes medication can be helpful to restore balance to people's minds. But for all of us, without exception, David's words in Psalm 86 describe the ultimate resting place for the troubled soul. It disturbs me that we often place more confidence in the counsel of men than we do in the truth of God's word. While that counsel and that "medicinal edge" might be helpful, in the end the soul is only healed by the One who created it.

Listen to David's summation:

"Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me" (Psalm 86:1-7).

David understands that the sickness of the soul, in his case at least, is not caused by a chemical imbalance, but by a spiritual need—one that begins with forgiveness.

"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I might fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave" (86:11-13).

An "undivided heart." What does that look like? Jesus summarized it in His capsulized version of the Ten Commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37, 38). This flows glibly off our tongues but in these words is a world of worth and a lifetime of work that results in an "undivided heart" and a healthy soul.

David knows that this is not something he can conjure up. He knows that this is not a journey someone else can take for him. He might appreciate some cheerleaders along the way, but he knows that only God can give him the healing of soul that he needs. He understands that only God can deliver him.

He also knows enough about God to understand that placing the health of his soul in the hands of the Almighty is the best place for that soul to be.

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness...have mercy...grant me a sign of your goodness...for you, O Lord, have helped and comforted me" (86:15-17).

The ultimate healing of the soul is a heavenly one. That destination gives hope during the journey. But David understands, as we need to, that every single step in that journey, and toward that destination, brings with it its own reward. David can praise God and glorify Him because he has already had a glimpse of what the end is going to look like as he allows God to heal his soul.


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