Salt&Light Word in Season: Let’s be salt and light to those struggling with mental illness

Word in Season is a monthly series of original Bible devotions and reflections from leaders in God's Kingdom. TRIGGER WARNING: This article mentions suicide.

Ps Chua Seng Lee // May 15, 2024, 10:08 pm

man having autistic intellectual disability

Mental health issues is a reality and the Church needs to be equipped to walk with those who are struggling. Photo from

In both the Old Testament and New Testament, we are reminded to be salt and light in the times we are in.

In 1 Chronicles 12:32, the Bible described some of the men who helped David in battle: “… of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do”.

In Matthew 5:13, we are reminded to be “the salt of the earth … (and) the light of the world”.

What times are we in?

We are in challenging times of conflict around the world, economic disruption in the financial sectors, unhappiness in families, uncertainty about the future and tremendous stress in schools and workplaces.

Suicide is a human response to stop the pain in our minds.

One outcome of the convergence of these issues is the rise of mental illness and suicides. According to the Samaritans of Singapore, more than 400 people in Singapore die from suicide every year.

Suicide is not a new problem in society. There are at least seven incidents of suicide recorded in the Bible and many records of suicide ideation as well. Suicide is a human response to stop the pain in our minds.

If we are to be effective salt and light in the world, we must be alert to this and strive to equip ourselves to help people inside and outside the Church.

A taboo topic

However, the fact is that mental illness and suicide are taboo subjects even within the Church. Most people find it hard to speak about these subjects.

In a mental health survey conducted among church leaders in 2020 and 2023, only 65% of church staff and pastors felt that the church is a safe place to talk about mental health issues.

And only 38% (in 2023) of church staff and pastors felt adequately equipped to help someone with their mental health issues.

These findings reveal the gap in the body of Christ to effectively engage and help people with these issues.

So what can we do about this?

1. Pray and allow God to guide us

Prayer must be our first recourse and not our last resort.

James 1:5 tells us: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

We are encouraged to ask God for His wisdom to guide us. He promises us that He will give to us generously without reproach. We must ask in faith without wavering (James 1:6).

2. Look out for one another

In Genesis 4:9, God asked Cain: “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Contrary to what Cain said, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. Cain may have denied it, but God commanded it.

We are called to love one another (John 13:34). This means we are to look out for and care for one another.

3. Avoid simplistic answers

Mental pain is the worst kind of human pain. It attacks the human soul relentlessly.

As such, giving advice will not ease the pain.

Pastor Rick Warren put it wisely: “When the pain is deep, the words must be few.”

The sufferer does not need our advice. They just need our presence.

4. Journey with the hurting with empathy

We need to be brutally honest about our inability to help. It is really not about us or what we can do. It is about the sufferer.

Our role is being God’s healing presence in their life.

Our role is allowing God to flow through us as we avail ourselves to His healing ministry. 

Our role is checking in on their pain and hearing their pain. 

Our role is acknowledging that their struggles are real.

Our role is connecting them to God in our prayers. 

And sometimes, our role is referring them to trained professionals for help.

5. Equip ourselves and work with Christian professionals

God has called and equipped many wonderful healing agents for the Church. They are doctors, counsellors, therapists and mental health professionals.

Many of them are fellow believers ready to help. But due to our ignorance or biases, this precious resource has been left untapped. Seek them out. You may be surprised to know how wiling they are to help.

In John 8:12, the Bible says: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”

Being the light of the world is really not about us. It is about letting His light shine through us. It is about being yielded vessels for Him.

It is all about Him. The light is Him.


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About the author

Ps Chua Seng Lee

Ps Chua Seng Lee is the Senior Pastor of Bethesda Bedok Tampines Church (BBTC). He has spent more than two decades working with youth and young working adults. He served in the Singapore National Youth Council and was also the Chairman of the National Youth Mentoring Steering Committee. In 2011, he authored a book on overcoming depression among young people.