Pastor J.D. discusses the common struggle of anxiety and what Scripture has to say about it.

A glimpse inside this episode:

When it comes to anxiety and depression, many people create a false dichotomy. Either this is a biological and chemical issue, or it’s 100% a spiritual one. But that’s simply not the case. 

  • God made us a “psychosomatic unity,” which simply means it is impossible to separate, at least on earth, our souls and our bodies, and what happens in one inevitably affects the other. 
  • For example—very simple example: You ever realize how unspiritual you get when you haven’t gotten enough sleep, or when you are hungry? I told you a couple of weeks ago, I can get really impatient and rude with people when I’m hangry. Now, in one sense, you could call that a spiritual problem, right? Nothing should justify my being rude. But the truth is, my rudeness—which is a soul problem—is being triggered and exacerbated by my physical condition. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pray for more patience, just that I should probably also take a nap and eat a Snickers bar. It’s like one of my professors used to say, “Sometimes the best thing that you can do for your spiritual life is get a good night sleep.”

(Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that what I experience when I’m hungry is the same as what you experience if you’re walking through depression or anxiety. Nor am I saying these problems can be fixed as simply. I’m just making the point that there is a lot going on in any emotion, factors that are not only spiritual and physical, but also psychological and social! 

  • To reduce the experience of anxiety down to only one of these factors is simply irresponsible. That’s why, at our church, we not only preach on the spiritual aspects of anxiety and depression, but we also offer ministries that focus more holistically on these struggles. And we encourage people to incorporate medical care into their mental health plan. 

How to deal with spiritual depression:

Think on the promises of God. One of my favorites is Lamentations 3. I see four major pieces of instruction in it:

1.  Call to mind the goodness of God (vs. 21–23)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Don’t you love this image of the new morning? God’s mercies and faithfulness are like the sun coming up new every morning, washing away the shadows and the darkness of the night! 

Today may feel like a terribly dark, never-ending night of mistakes and despair. But God’s mercies rise new and fresh every morning. 

  • If you’re not dead, God’s not done! His mercies are brand new this morning—and they will be again tomorrow morning. 
  • Your emotions may be telling you that there is nothing ahead but darkness and despair, but you must call to mind that Jesus got out of the grave which means he has good plans for you and your family, and ultimately your story will end in victory and not defeat.
  • (Preach this glorious gospel to yourself. The most influential person in your life is you because you talk to yourself the most.)

2.  Learn any lessons God is trying to teach you (vs. 26–28)

3.  Realize that God’s plans are ultimately for good and for blessing (vs. 24, 32) 

4.  Get up tomorrow and look for the goodness of God (vs. 22)

How about anxiety? Matthew 6

  1. Anxiety thinks too little of God (Matthew 6:24–29).
  • It elevates the obtaining of other things besides him as essential for the good life. 
    • Jesus says: The good life is more than making a lot of money; it is more than good career choices and successful parenting techniques and finding the right person… (Or, as Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”) The good life is walking with God and letting him provide all those things.
  • It also thinks too little of God’s control. Not one hair… 
  1. Anxiety minimizes how much God thinks of me (Matthew 6:26, 30)
  • Isaiah 49:16, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? (Has that ever happened?) Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”
  • Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” What more would God have to do to prove his commitment to you? This reminds me of my kids sometimes on vacation—after spending the day at Disney World we are 30 minutes behind when we would normally eat dinner, and my kids say, “Dad, are we not going to eat?” And I’m like, “You think I brought you this whole way to starve you? Isn’t just being here proof of my commitment to you? Do you know how much it cost to get you here? Do you think I’m standing in a 2-hour line to ride Dumbo for 90 seconds for me? Surely if I care enough to bring you on vacation, I care enough to keep you fed. Not that this has happened recently… 
  • Surely if God cares enough for us to send his Son to the cross to die in humiliation for us we can trust him with our bills, our spouses and the future of our families.
  1. Anxiety usually is a false prophet (Matthew 6:27, 34).
  • It offers false solutions, makes false promises and offers false predictions. 
  • Anxiety is a false prophet because the vast majority of the things we worry about never take place! You worry about 1000 things that never take place. I’ve heard it described as paying interest on a debt you may not even owe. Or like hearing the threatening music in the soundtrack of your life when there is actually no danger. 
    • I remember watching a scary movie with my wife and they are in some peaceful scene by the lake and all of the sudden the ominous music starts and you know it’s about it to go down. And I told Veronica that it would be great if I could have ominous music play when something bad was about to happen me. 
    • Like when some relationship was really going to go bad, when I first met (her) this sinister music would play in my ears… and I’d know, “This is not going to turn out well.”)  That would have been great in college.
    • And then I realized the bigger problem was that ominous music plays in my heart when there is nothing for me to be scared of! Think about how many things you worry about that never happened! 
  • Psalm 27:13: it’s not wrong to be an optimist.

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