Mental Health for Christians: Biblical Terms for Healing Include the Term for “Therapy”

Mental Health for Christians: Biblical Terms for Healing Include the Term for “Therapy”

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.
3 John 2

Mental illness brings many challenges, but perhaps the biggest challenge can be coping with the false beliefs of other Christians. Well-meaning Christians lay additional burdens on people with mental illness by telling them things like:

  • “You just need to pray more (or have more faith for healing).”
  • “It’s a sin to get psychiatric treatment or take psychiatric drugs.”
  • “A mental illness is a sin (or God’s punishment for sin) and you need to repent to get well.”

Let’s think about this a moment. Is psychiatric treatment any more wrong that other medical treatment? Why should we expect only miraculous healing? Doesn’t God use the medical community, too? Can’t God use modern medicine to achieve His results?

Yes, we are spiritual beings, but we are also a body and mind. When it comes to mental illness, effective treatment involves all three: body, mind, and spirit. The New Testament affirms this holistic approach.


Biblical Terms for Healing

We tend to think healing as one concept. The New Testament writers, however, used various nuances of meaning when describing healing. There are three Greek words translated as “healing” in the New Testament: sozo, iaomai, and therapeuo.


Sozo means to save, deliver, protect, heal, preserve, and make whole. It occurs 120 times in the New Testament but only appears as “healed” three of those instances. Sozo focuses on the whole person and while the physical body is included, it is not the focus of sozo.


The Greek word, iaomai, refers to an instant miracle of healing involving divine power. As you might expect, Jesus generally used this approach and this is generally what comes to mind when we think of healing. Iaomai is also the miraculous power used to cast out demons, which in itself is a healing.


The third term used for healing in New Testament Greek is therapeuo. It’s the Greek root for our modern word, “therapy” or “therapeutic.” Therapeuo, according to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittle), means, “to heal, serve, to care for the sick, to treat, to cure.” The idea of treating or curing someone isn’t the instant miracle of iaomai. Treatment involves a process over time, as in the case of the blind man touched by Jesus who saw people like trees but after a second touch, he saw clearly. Sometimes Jesus placed spit or mud on a person in the healing process. Therapeuo allows a wide range of therapies to be used in healing the body, not just an instant miracle of healing (iaomai).


Treatment for the Body Includes the Brain

The gospel writer, Luke, was a physician. If God only healed through spiritual means, there would be no need for physicians. I think most people find physicians acceptable until it comes to treating the mind. Somehow, these mental health issues become something spiritual rather than physical. But the mind includes the brain so just as something can go wrong with any other organ in the body, the brain can also suffer illness, disease, defect, and dysfunction. For this reason, treating the brain is just as valid as treating the heart, liver, or lungs.


A Holistic Approach to Treating Mental Illness

People with mental illness can rest assured that God has a holistic treatment plan for them. God offers them salvation (sozo) to make them whole in spirit. They may seek God’s healing touch (iaomai) and He may touch their bodies and heal their minds. But God also embraces the therapeutic approaches (therapeuo) for curing illness or disease. Psychiatric doctors, psychiatric medicine, therapy, diet, exercise, relationships, and spiritual support all play a role in treating mental illness in a holistic way. We are not one-dimensional beings. God made us as spirit, mind, and body so we must not neglect to treat the mind as well as the spirit and body.


Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 2


Lord, extend your love and grace to those who have been hurt and confused by Christians because of their mental illness. Grant grace to both the offended and the offenders. I release your power and love to heal those who need healing, whether through an instant work of your Holy Spirit or a longer process of therapeutic treatment in a holistic manner. Give courage to those who need treatment but feel the weight of fear, guilt, or condemnation because of the misconceptions about mental illness among Christians. There is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1) so release them from these burdens and give them the freedom and strength to take the first step toward getting help. And give them a supportive Christian to walk with them on this journey. We seek your grace and glory in all things. Amen.


This post was inspired and informed by Three New Testament Words for Healing by Mark Virkler.

Miracle Testimony

Miracle Testimony: God Healed My Skin Problem (Possible Cancer) in an Instant

If you know me very well, you know I have some seemingly insurmountable health challenges. I’ve been praying for healing for some of my health problems for more than two decades. I’ve even had doctors tell me, “Don’t come back to me for this condition. I don’t know what else to do for you.” So, yeah, it’s been a discouraging situation with my health as one thing after another piles on. And they’re not normal things.

  • I have had a chronic (daily) cough for twenty-five years and doctors don’t know what to do.
  • I have two permanently dilated eyes from a rare neurological disease.
  • I have bipolar disorder.

That’s just to name a few. And then . . .

About a year ago, a crusty raised bump appeared on the back of my shoulder. I didn’t think too much of it but it didn’t go away. Then a second one appeared a few inches away. Could it be skin cancer from the severe sunburns I had when I was young? Maybe, but I couldn’t cope with the idea of adding more medical hassles to my life so I waited and tried the herbal cream that cured my dermatitis a couple years ago when nothing else would help.

Nothing changed. Then a third bump began to form. Desperate, I prayed, “Lord, I have so many significant health problems and you’ve never seen fit to heal any of them. Could you heal this skin problem completely in such a way that it restores my faith in your ability to heal? Then I’ll tell everyone about it so you get all the credit to glorify your Name.”

I think that was approximately two weeks ago. I’d almost forgotten that prayer until Tuesday night. I was sitting in bed reading and happened to reach up and touch one of the bumps. It was soft instead of crusty. I lightly scraped at it and it came completely off! Then I felt for the other two and the same thing happened. All three bumps practically fell off! I wasn’t digging away at them; they were loose.

What is remarkable to me is how they all came off at the same time. They were healed, but God was waiting for me to notice. They didn’t improve one at a time; they were all healed at once! Amazing!

This does restore my faith in God’s ability to heal.

Happy Dance!


He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3

Breakthrough Healing by Larry Sparks

Breakthrough Healing by Larry Sparks

It seems like everyone needs to be healed of something. Wouldn’t it be neat if we could pray for other people and they would be healed like in the Bible? According to Larry Sparks, we can. We just need to correct our thinking about supernatural events.

I’ve needed healing for multiple things, some for as long as 25 years. Doctors can’t help me. So I’m interested in healing, but I have been confused about differing theologies about healing. This topic is outside my comfort zone so I approached the book with caution. The author made clear distinctions, though, between radical “faith healers” and biblical healing.

“Signs and wonders are completely God-focused, while health and wealth is human-focused.” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Healing

The main point of distinction is that biblical healing is always focused on God. Rather than coming to God for healing, come to God for a deeper relationship with Him. Seek to know God for who He is and the healing will come—at least that’s the gist of it, it seems.

“Let’s go against the grain of formulaic approaches to healing and set our gaze upon Jesus—just because we desire Him. I promise, a moment in His glorious presence contains the potential to change everything!” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Healing

If you want to push the boundaries of what you believe about healing, this quick read will give you some new perspectives to contemplate.



“If we are convinced that sickness comes from God, we are less inclined to pray for healing because, in a way, we would be praying against what God wants and be sabotaging His will.” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Healing

“If Jesus really is as He Himself declares, One who executes the work assigned to Him by the Father, then the truth is indeed settled: healing is the will of God.” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Healing

“The promises of God are essential for us to feed on and meditate on and cling to for dear life. They are our fundamental source of hope.” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Healing

“When we actively bring to mind the glorious healing benefits of the Lord, our hope is dynamically charged!” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Healing

“When you testify of real miracles, real healings, and real situations that were completely turned around by the power of God, faith is imparted to those listening. Hope rises.” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Healing


Tweetable Quotes


Breakthrough Healing: 50 Keys to Experiencing God’s Supernatural Power in Your Life

Larry Sparks


85 pages



Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything Is Possible by Larry Sparks

Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything is Possible

I’ve always coped with difficult life circumstances by saying, “Well, God either caused it or allowed it so either way that settles it.” Yet, I’ve always been uncomfortable with knowing when to accept something and when to press in through prayer to seek healing. I’ve had trouble reconciling the role of prayer in my life, knowing that God’s going to do whatever He wants.

“Lazy theology looks at what’s in front of us and assumes that some boundary or some obstacle is God’s will by default.” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Faith

So when I began reading Breakthrough Faith, I was in for a bit of a jolt. It rocked my boat and made me reconsider faith, prayer, and life circumstances. Author Larry Sparks weaves through the book the biblical example of the paralytic whose four friends lowered him through the roof (Mark 2). They brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus but couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. They could have said, “Oh well, we tried. It must not have been God’s will.” Honestly, that would have probably been my response. But, no. They had faith that Jesus could heal their friend so they climbed up on the roof, removed the roofing materials, and lowered their friend down through the roof. Their faith broke through the barriers, which is the origin of the title, Breakthrough Faith.

“The four men did not redefine Jesus based on their circumstances, like many do today.” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Faith

Honestly, I found the author’s arguments compelling. I have tended have a Christian fatalism and allowed my circumstances and my reactions to them to shape my theology by limiting what I expected God to do. I always knew God was able to do anything, but I frequently felt like He must be unwilling. I’ve lived under the shadow of the limits I placed on God. These are the very things addressed in the book.

“All we need to know is who God is and leave the execution of the impossible up to Him.” – Larry Sparks, Breakthrough Faith

I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first because I worried this would be a book of healing hype. And while it did stretch the boundaries of what I was comfortable with, it was faithful to God’s Word and realistic about faith healing. For instance, the author made it clear that sometimes healing doesn’t happen and God has His reasons, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t exercise faith because we know God is willing and able to heal.

This is an excellent book in a very readable style, but I had to read it slowly over time to allow the ideas to grow in my heart. Are you ready to grow?


Tweetable Quotes


Breakthrough Faith

Living a Life Where Anything is Possible

Larry Sparks (@LarryVSparks)


208 pages



Praying for Wholeness but Accepting Brokenness

Praying for Wholeness but Accepting Brokenness

I often ask God for healing for my body, mind, and spirit. This actually involves a long list of requests because of my many physical problems. I also struggle with taking medication every two hours all day long. After I take most of them, I want to sleep it off for a couple hours. It’s difficult to be productive when you’re so tired from medication. Working outside the home isn’t really an option right now. I pray for God to heal me, but it hasn’t happened yet.

How does someone continue asking in faith for God to heal them and yet live with contentment in their current situation? It’s not easy. Here are three thoughts that come to mind from my perspective.

Remember these brief trials are insignificant in comparison to the glory that awaits us.

Paul wrote: “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT). Life will be uncomfortable and even painful, but it is only temporary. Remember to look forward to the joy ahead.

Depend on God.

After being blinded by the light on the road to Damascus, Paul apparently had ongoing trouble with his eyes. He described writing the closing of a letter with his own hand and how readers could tell because of the large lettering. And he acknowledged that the Galatians would have given him their own eyes, if they could. Paul asked God three times to heal him, but God said “no” because He wanted Paul to depend on God’s strength for his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).


Because we are broken, God's power and love can flow through us.


Minister to others from your brokenness.

When we experience trouble, God comforts us. But then He expects us to comfort others going through the same troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). He pours out his love to us so we can pour His love out on others: “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT). Because we are broken, God’s power and love can flow through us.



Understanding our pain and inconvenience from the perspective of what God might be trying to do through our lives makes it easier to find contentment in our circumstances, even in our unanswered prayer. And we can always live in faith believing God will someday choose to answer. If nothing else, our physical healing will come like an answer to prayer when we are ultimately healed in heaven.

These are the issues I wrestle with in prayer and Bible meditation.




When God Breaks Your Heart by Ed Underwood (@edunderwood)

When God Breaks Your Heart

Choosing Hope in the Midst of Faith-Shattering Circumstances

Ed Underwood (@edunderwood)


224 pages

Available from Amazon in paperback, Kindle, Audiobook CD, and Audible audio download.

Available from in paperback, ePub, and audiobook download.

I read the Kindle edition.




But your need for safety and your fear of surprises will rob your life of the astonishing interventions with which He wants to fill your days.

–Ed Underwood, When God Breaks Your Heart, quote from Part II, “The Misery.”


Ed Underwood is a remarkable man, dealing with severe lymphoma causing his skin to fall off, leaving raw, oozing sores reminiscent of the trials of Job. Those of us who have experienced faith-shattering trials know the depth of spiritual trauma ongoing crisis can cause. In his book, When God Breaks Your Heart: Choosing Hope in the Midst of Faith-Shattering Circumstances, Ed gives an unvarnished glimpse into the depths of his despair and how God lifted him above his circumstances to a life of renewed meaning and purpose.

Pastor Underwood shared the moment he announced he wasn’t going to pray to God anymore. And yet God prompted him to look at the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. That’s where he discovered his “aha” moment and saw a biblical truth that helped him move forward. I’m not going to unpack all of the goodness here because, if you are experiencing faith-shattering trials, I want you to read the book.

I really needed this message so I read slowly and let it soak in. There were several truths I will go back and print up so I can see them every day as a reminder. This is a much-needed message shared by a man who has experienced pain so deeply, he can empathize with your pain and pour it out on the pages you read in this book. Thank you, Pastor Underwood.

You can connect with Ed Underwood on Twitter (@edunderwood) or on his website:


His spirit let me know that He expected me to apply this verse to my life immediately.

“Ed, you’re telling people everywhere to ask Me to allow you to live and serve. I want you to begin living as if it’s true!”

“When, Lord?” I asked.

“Right now. Today. Serve Me today and every day I give you life … no matter what.”

–Ed Underwood, When God Breaks Your Heart, quote from Chapter 8: Glory in Bethany.


I give Ed Underwood’s When God Breaks Your Heart five cups of love.

Cups of LoveCups of LoveCups of LoveCups of LoveCups of Love



Order from the link below and you'll help me earn a few cents. I like the jingle of coins in my cup.

767516: When God Breaks Your Heart When God Breaks Your Heart

By Ed Underwood / David C. Cook

Few things in life are more difficult than personal suffering. For Pastor Ed Underwood this difficulty came in the form of chronic leukemia. In “When God Breaks Your Heart” Underwood shares from his struggle and looks at the story of Lazarus. There he discovers a God whose heart breaks with ours and mourns with us in our suffering.

13605EB: When God Breaks Your Heart - eBook When God Breaks Your Heart – eBook

By Ed Underwood / David C. Cook

Few things in life are more difficult than personal suffering. For Pastor Ed Underwood this difficulty came in the form of chronic leukemia. In “When God Breaks Your Heart” Underwood shares from his struggle and looks at the story of Lazarus. There he discovers a God whose heart breaks with ours and mourns with us in our suffering.




Live Uncaged by Mary DeMuth

Live Uncaged: Find the Freedom You’ve Always Wanted

Mary Demuth (@MaryDeMuth)


106 pages

Available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions.

I read the Kindle edition.




Mary DeMuth writes well, but be warned that Live Uncaged: Find the Freedom You’ve Always Wanted is a collection of blog posts. The author states her purpose in the introduction: “I want you to be free from the shackles of the past.” While this is a worthy aim, it just didn’t seem like the selections furthered that theme. Each of the blog posts are finely written and convey their intended message. However, I found the collection, gathered into three sections (dealing with past, present, and future), seemed to lack cohesiveness to bind it all together.


Today, chilled to the fingers, I ran toward the lake, my mind wandering. Something shiny and bright caught my eye. Caught in the overhead telephone line was the shredded remains of a kite. It couldn’t get free, the tangles getting the best of it. But just as I looked skyward to see the imprisoned kite again, a flock of birds, flying in V formation, soared overhead.

In that moment, I knew.

Sometimes (a lot of times, if I’m willing to admit it), I am caught halfway between earth and heaven, imprisoned by something that looks an awful lot like shame. I am not alive where I’m caught. And yet, living creatures built to fly soar above me.

Those birds are what God intends me (and you!) to be. He never intended His children to become so entangled by shame and pain that they cease to live. That they give up and hang on a wire while others fly on the wind. He made us to fly.

–Mary DeMuth, Live Uncaged, excerpt from section 3.


You can connect with Mary DeMuth on Twitter (@MaryDeMuth)  or on her website:

I give Mary DeMuth’s Live Uncaged three cups of love.

Cups of Love Cups of Love Cups of Love

At present, the Kindle version of Live Uncaged is available for free on Amazon.