Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and Depression

by Tyler Ash

High School Pastor, Christ’s Church, Mason

 

Whenever I face an issue that I don’t feel like I have a firm grasp on, I’m inclined to turn to Amazon. If you, or someone you love, struggles with depression or anxiety issues, Amazon has over 70,000 books to sell you. If you narrow the scope of your search down to books that address these issues from a Christian perspective, you only have to wade through about 4,000 titles. My intent isn’t to discourage you from reading up on these subjects, but the good news for us is that we don’t have to rely on any of those authors to give us guidance when it comes to these complicated issues. God is not silent on the matter. As a matter of fact, he has a good word for us to consider.

Before we dive into the Bible, can we agree that all forms of depression and anxiety issues are not equal? Praying to God and reading your Bible aren’t the solution to every malady people face. There are some situations where medical attention—and in some cases, intervention—is best. However, there are some practical spiritual disciplines that can help us view our lives and situations with a clearer perspective. Depression and anxiety issues are not simply a medical problem or a mental problem, but they are often a “being human” problem. One of the biggest challenges we often face is overcoming the stigma that is sometimes associated with these issues. We need to overcome the stigma so we can find the help that is required.

Proverbs 12:25 mentions depression directly: “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad” (NASB).The NKJV says explicitly that anxiety causes “depression.” In this short and sweet verse, God diagnoses and prescribes the help people need to grow beyond depression. This Bible verse offers a remedy for the diagnosis—fill our hearts with “a good word.” In the face of anxiety and depression, God’s encouragement to you is to find a good word to challenge any negative voices aimed at your heart.

God highlights that the root of depression is a heart that is full of anxiety. It is so easy for us to worry about many things and thereby carry the very burdens that God has offered to take from us. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light(NIV). In 1 Peter 5:6-7, we’re told, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV).

Here’s another “good word” to focus on from the Bible: Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV). Romans 5:5 reminds our weary hearts of the hope that we have in God. A hope that serves as the light can make the darkness of depression retreat.

Anxiety, depression, and mental illness tend to cause people to feel claustrophobic, as if the world is closing in on them. Jesus commands his people in John 13:34, 35 to make their world bigger by loving others and looking out for their interests. It’s counterintuitive, but looking out for others takes the emphasis off the individual. As we follow Jesus’ command to serve others, we can’t help but find ourselves in the midst of a new community—surrounded by people who care for each other (see Ephesians 4:2). 

Anxiety and depression are real issues that God’s people must take seriously. There’s no single silver bullet to conquer these enemies, but we can take steps toward restoration by challenging the negative thoughts that fill our hearts with the truth of God’s Word. A verse from the Old Testament has been a great help to me personally in dealing with any hardship I’ve faced, reminding me of who I am and who God is to me.

“The Lord your God is with you,

the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

in his love he will no longer rebuke you,

but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17, NIV

 

In the moments when your anxious thoughts accuse you, or question God’s goodness, be reminded of these truths:

  1. God is present with you.
  2. God is capable of saving you.
  3. God not only loves you, he genuinely likes you.
  4. God is not interested in harshly judging you.
  5. God rejoices in and over you, longing to sing songs over you as a father does to his child.

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