Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the western world affecting 40 million adults in the United States alone or 18% of the population.
According to Beyondblue on average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. Over two million Australians experience anxiety.
Recently a good friend of mine Pastor Ian Parker, preached a sermon on this subject which I thought was a succinct prescription of how to deal with this malady.
Here are some of his notes on how to deal with this often private and painful subject:
Depression is the most common form of emotional pain.
There are levels of depression. Normal – Clinical – Manic.
While some depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, most is caused by unfulfilled expectations.
Sir Winston Churchill, one of the world’s great leaders, suffered from large bouts of depression and he was the one who referred to it as “The Black Dog” .
The black dog is vicious and it attacks Christians along with everyone else.
For example here are a few Biblical characters who similarly suffered.
JONAH – was depressed because God didn’t do what he expected. Nineveh was as brutal and cruel as Isis is today.
He wanted it destroyed so he preached for 40 days “God is going to get you!!”
JOB was depressed. He lost everything, then cursed the day he was born: “Why did I not perish at birth, …. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job 3:11;26
DAVID said “My heart is overwhelmed. “Why are you cast down my soul, why are you disturbed within me?” Ps 42:5
JESUS even commented “My soul is very sad and deeply grieved so that I am almost dying of sorrow” Matthew 26:38
ELIJAH the Old Testament Prophet cried ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life;’ 1 Kings 19:4
These are not some helpless sinners without God. These are God’s men of faith and power.
Depression is a downward spiral that takes you into a black hole.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE BLACK DOG?
1. YOU HAVE TO CONFRONT THE DOG. You can’t change what you don’t confront.
2. DON’T FEED THE BLACK DOG – IGNORE IT. Starve it.
You do that by giving your attention to something else.
God turned Elijah’s attention away from Jezebel and false prophets and gave him four things to do.
1 Kings 19:15 (1) Have a good feed; (2) Go on a journey or walk; (3) Go and stand in the presence of God; and (4) Go and anoint Jehu to be king of Israel.
Don’t allow yourself the luxury of brooding. Starve it.
Stay busy, mow the lawn, wash the car, visit a friend, paint the house but do something.
3. TALK ABOUT THE DOG. God had Elijah tell Him what the problem was.
God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” I Kings 19:13. He asked Elijah that same question two separate times. “What are you doing here?”
Of course God knew. But Elijah needed to vocalize what was wrong in his life. He needed to get a few thing off his chest.
Psychiatrists have made millions because they understand this principle.
I feel sorry for our returned soldiers who were told “Men don’t cry,” and “Keep a stiff upper lip.” You need to release the pressure.
You say, “Well I don’t have anyone to ‘unload on’.” Remember the old hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus?
You may feel you are travelling alone on this journey of darkness but take heart you are not alone.
Take a listen to this song as Fred & Betty Evans sing the lyrics of this much loved hymn that has blessed thousands throughout the last century.
Jesus is waiting for you to talk to Him.
King David understood this in the Psalms and he poured out his soul to the Lord.
4. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE. God said “You’re not a failure Elijah.You think you are the only one left and no one repented – v18….…”incidentally, there are 7000 men in Israel who have never bowed to Baal nor kissed him!”
I have some good news for you.
There is a land when there is no depression – no disappointment.
“In his presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalm 16:11
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!