I was listening to a podcast earlier this week where an ordained Anglican priest was being interviewed. He told a story about a recent encounter he had with a man in his church who came in to talk about his struggle with depression.
The man had been raised in a church that viewed mental illness (i.e. depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc) as evidence of a lack of faith in one's life. He was taught by the church he grew up in that if someone was dealing with any of these issues, they just needed to pray harder, read their Bible more, etc. I actually believe this is way too common of a mistruth being taught in many of today's churches.
Anyway, for this reason, the man was hesitant to take the medication his doctor had recently prescribed to him for his condition. The way the priest responded to this man's concerns was very wise and enlightening. He explained the use of medicine to treat one's depression, or any other mental illness for that matter, in a way I wish I'd known about and been able to tell my patients before I had to stop working as a doctor.
The priest explained to the man that there were many believers from the past who had suffered or knew someone who suffered from the same mental illnesses that are around today. These people had prayed for a cure or relief from their struggles, but none ever came for them. One of the main reasons for this was because the cause or mechanism of these diseases was unknown in the past. But after years of research and the acquiring of a tremendous amount of medical knowledge about these conditions, medications were finally developed that offered help and hope to the people who were dealing with them.
If you look at it with this in mind, the priest advised him that the medicine he was prescribed was God's answer to the steadfast prayers of these hundreds and thousands of believers from years' past. ¹ And WE are BLESSED to be living in a time where we are the BENEFICIARIES of their FAITHFULNESS in PRAYING for a cure.
Please don't think I am negating the power of prayer. By all means, we should keep praying that we'll get better and we should ask others to do the same because God STILL answers prayers for healing.
But one thing I have come to believe is that if we take the time to stop and look around, we might see that some of our prayers have already been answered, and God is just waiting for us to grab hold of what He's trying to give us.
¹ I am not suggesting that everyone with mental health problems needs to be on medication. A doctor or medical professional can help a person decide this. And in addition to meds, many can benefit from counseling or therapy as well.