Is your heart crying today? There is a remedy. There is healing in your journey toward absolute joy despite your circumstances. No matter the grief, the turmoil, the anxiety, the abuse, the emotional and mental stress you are under, there is hope. There are tangible ways to combat the war against your soul. The devil is ruthless, cruel, and relentless in using our mind and thoughts to wear down our spiritual health. He not only lies to us, but he also twists truth, he dilutes truth, and he mixes truth and lies and hurls those thoughts at us as fast as he can. He has one goal and that is to drag as many as possible into hell with him. Through your mind is the path to your heart- and he is waiting for his chance.
What if we would take away the stigma of battling weak emotional and mental health? Take out your Bible and look at the book of Psalms. Notice the pattern of the ancient writers. Many admit to sinning, to despair, to anger, and to hopelessness. They lament their actions, their thoughts, and their sinning. They call on God to save them out of the pit of sadness. They recall the times that God saved them and gave songs in the night. They sing songs of praise for
deliverance in days past. Then they plead with God for help and praise Him for answering their present prayers. They left an example for us to follow. They ignored the stigma of struggles with their thoughts. They wrote down their failings, their prayers, their pleas and their deliverance!
I believe God is asking us to drop our façade and become REAL in Him. To become vulnerable is a strength, a bridge to connecting with our heavenly Father, and with our family and friends. Vulnerability does not necessarily mean speaking loosely and freely of private heart matters. It can mean something as simple as the following comments.
I’m in a struggle, will you pray?
I’m feeling sad this morning and feel like life is too hard.
I’m feeling lonely and misunderstood.
God seems so far away.
No one loves me or accepts me.
It’s not a weakness to admit a weakness. Vulnerability is actually a measure of our strength. Our culture has created a stigma with grief, pain, anxiety, mental or emotional health. In other countries when you ask someone how they are, you really want to know. And when you answer the same question, you are honest! Have we accepted that a certain amount of dishonesty is acceptable?
In the center of all healing is Jesus. He always has the answer and is the answer. This fact cannot be removed from any amount of counseling, therapy, self-help, or sharing with others. When I cry, I find comfort in the fact that Jesus had all the answers, and even He wept. (When His friend Lazarus died)
I often think about the Olympic symbol of circles interlocked with each other. Years of effort, determination and a common goal are linked together to bring the athletes success and fame, and the ultimate reward of a gold medal. We too can create strength and success with the Lord and allow a crown of golden joy to be upon our heads. Our success lies in letting “our support team” help us strive for healing. This team may include but not be limited to our family, friends,
staff members, and medical or mental health professionals.
There are practical ways of fighting anxiety and depression. Some feel if prayer doesn’t work you have a spiritual problem, because isn’t prayer supposed to be the ultimate remedy and cure? Yes, but God has given us enabling
tools to use and practical ways to help Him help us heal. He is always ready to reach us, but we must reach out our hand to Him, whether it be through medication, therapy or sharing with family or friends. God is not limited to working only through prayer! John 5:2-9 tells a wonderful story of people who wanted to be healed; of people who were waiting for the stirring of the water with utmost patience and trust. We must want to be healed to have healing.
Years ago, I visited an acquaintance’s house and was amazed at the atmosphere of her home. There were many sticky notes posted here and there with Bible verses or happy quotes written on them. The décor in her house was in vibrant bold joyful colors instead of neutral tones. Later I found out that she had sadness in her past, and this was her way of combating the shadows
that threatened her. She was not waiting for healing to come to her, she was enabling God and He in return was filling her with joy in spite of the shadows in the past.
Journaling is another practical way to fight off the devil and give nameless fears and dread a place to go. It takes away the power of the past to put them on paper. Singing has also been scientifically proven to improve your physical and mental health. It releases chemicals in our brains that stimulate feelings of trust and safety, and as these feelings grow and multiply, they push out the
emotions of anxiety and depression.
Another threat to good mental health is to be idle. My mom would often tell me, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. Challenge your body and your brain when you find yourself struggling. Don’t give the devil time to work. Do not only throw out the bad thoughts that will come (because this is life) but replace them with happy positive thoughts. Our brains can be retrained. I have had numerous health crises in my life and my emotional health in this area is weak. I continually must combat negative thoughts and fears. I take a low dose anxiety medication and it has helped turn the tide in my brain. There are times
when my mind simply freezes in fear and those are the times I must voice my thoughts to my patient husband, and he helps me over and over. Once when I received a phone call from my doctor’s office, I collapsed in the middle of the Lowes aisle. My body reacted before my brain had time to even think. This is the power of the brain. We must feed our minds with power from the Lord. If we can’t do it alone; we must plead for help and support from the stronger ones around us. It takes over 400 deliberate positive thought choices to recreate a brain path of positive thinking. Picture a rut in the ground. That is precisely what happens to our brain when the same circuit is used again and again.
Recall the woman in the Bible with the issue of blood for 12 years. She reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed! So even if you are hanging on by a thread, if it’s the hem of HIS garment, there is a healing coming just for you.
The Native Americans had a vision that is helpful to us today. “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” I like to re-quote that as “Keep your face to the Son’s shine and you cannot see the shadow.”
Gideon was an amazing leader of courage. The children of Israel during this time of his life were desperately trying to stay alive and keep their animals and crops safe from the enemies. The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and gave him instructions to lead his people to victory. Gideon must have felt fear and anxiety because he asked, “If this is true that the Lord is with me (us), why are all these terrible things happening? Where are all the miracles that the
fathers talked about?” It sounds like despair and depression! Gideon not only needed to share his burden with the angel, but he needed signs and encouragement to believe. He couldn’t do it on his own.
I have had several experiences when the Lord has very clearly reached down into my mind and spoken.
Tears dripped down onto the old newspapers and negative thoughts swirled as I sorted through the old zinnia seeds. There among the dust, my eyes focused on the printed verse of the day in the old newspaper! “Whatsoever things are true, honest, just and pure… think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) My heart swelled with thanksgiving and joy at the love I felt from my heavenly Father.
Another time in the heavy darkness of 3:00 am, I was having the blackest thoughts. The burden was too heavy. I could not go on. The physical darkness was reaching down into the depths of my soul when my phone beeped. It never beeps an incoming email! And there on my phone was the Sunday school reading for the day. Philippians 4:8 again!
Another time I was worrying about a scary medical test I had. I had reasons to be afraid. As I was panicking inside and wondering if I could call and get the results, my phone rang at that very moment, and all was well. “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
These times weren’t THE healing. They were altars of healing, a place of stones set up to remember when the Lord answered my need. Share the times you have been rescued out of the slimy pit. My heart is inspired, and my mind encouraged when I hear how the Lord set your feet on higher ground. If you have lost a family member, if you deal with the effects of any kind
of abuse, if you have health sickness or trauma, there is a way through your sorrow. Humanity wants a way out, but He has promised a way through. He answers before we call, and if we set up an altar of remembrance, our strength will grow and our emotional health will flourish. It takes strength, stamina, support and help from the Lord and our team.
May you be empowered today to fight the demons that threaten you.