Addressing Anxiety Disorders Among Christians

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬


In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul tells the Philippians church IF they will replace anxiety with prayer and thankfulness, THEN God’s peace will guard their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

As someone who suffers from clinical depression and anxiety, my first thought (honestly) as I read these verses were, “if only it were this simple.” Now, before you gasp in shock, allow me to elaborate. The Bible never said faith is simple.

I believe there are two types of anxiety. The first is based on circumstances. The second is a physical/mental illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Both should be addressed with prayer and Thanksgiving as Paul proclaims, but the prayers are very different.

When anxiety is the result of circumstances our prayers implore God to move on our behalf to resolve the circumstance. Our faith rests in knowing “He will work all things together for good, to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28)

When anxiety is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, our approach is different. In this situation our prayer and supplication is for God’s healing. Our faith rests in His promise(s) of healing. “I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭33:6‬(b) NKJV‬‬

Sadly, I’ve read articles by well meaning Christians who criticize other believers who suffer with mental illness. Brothers and sisters, people who deal with emotional distress do not need judgmental stigma. We, of all people, should provide a place of refuge for the hurting. There is enough stigma in the secular world. Instead, we must become a people who lead them to “Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

If you had a Christian friend who was diagnosed with cancer or heart disease you would earnestly seek God for their healing. Until we treat victims of mental illness the same way we will continue to alienate those who suffer in shame and silence.

You may be surprised to learn that in the United States someone commits suicide every 15 minutes. Equally alarming is the fact that Christians commit suicide at the same rate as non-believers.

I realize this is not your typical message on Philippians 4:6-7, but I pray it will open your eyes to the need among believers to recognize the validity of this issue and the need to respond with compassion and empathy. You could save a life.

Lord, I thank You that you ARE able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or think. I pray for my brothers and sisters in the world who suffer with mental illness. Father, I ask You to heal their minds and bless them with an abundance of Your peace, which surpasses all understanding. Help us Lord to renew our minds through the power of Your Word.

Father I also pray for a greater awareness in the body of Christ about how to minister to those dealing with emotional illness. Help us to show the same compassion as we do to those who suffer physical illness. Help us not to trivialize their pain. Thank You for an increase in Godly therapists who are able to address this problem with a faith-based perspective.

Break through the stigma of mental illness so Your children can find freedom to ask for and receive help.

In the mighty name of Jesus. AMEN

Holiday Blues?

IMG_1460Christmas is supposed to be a time of great joy!  Unfortunately, for a lot of people it is a sad reminder that someone they love is no longer with them, or they can’t afford to lavish their loved ones with expensive gifts, or maybe they have no friends or family to celebrate with. Add to this the many who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the list continues to grow.  

If you are among those who are naturally “joyful” count your blessings! When you see someone suffering from Holiday blues don’t try to ‘cheer’ them up. Instead, simply offer them the gift of compassion and understanding. Validate their feelings. Believe it or not, in doing so you will bring them joy.

It took a relative of mine pointing out my tendency to withdraw and become depressed around the holidays to help me recognize that I have seasonal affective disorder. Recognizing it was the first step toward dealing with it. Hopefully my journey will help those of you who may be suffering in silence. 

As a Christian it’s easy to feel conflicted about depression. After all, I have SO much to be thankful for! But, I am a Melancholy. No doubt about it. So, how do I combat this overwhelming desire to dig a hole and hide from God and humanity when my emotions betray me?  

Rest: When I am tired my emotions plummet. The holidays are busy and it’s easy to overdo. I have to make a conscious effort to take extra care of my body when I begin to feel emotionally drained.

Resist: When the “blues” stop by for a visit it’s tempting to withdraw. I have to resist the urge to isolate myself. There is a balance between rest and the temptation to hibernate for the winter! Thankfully, I have a dog. That forces me to get outside for some fresh air. There is something uplifting about enjoying God’s creation in nature. The point is, even if you don’t have a dog, get outside. Take a walk. Go visit a friend. Do something … anything other than crawling back into bed.

Reflect: Do you keep a prayer/praise journal? If not, I highly recommend it! It’s easy to focus on the negative when we are down. Having a praise journal will enable you to go back and reflect on the good things God has done in your life. Gratitude is very therapeutic. Life is tough. It’s okay to feel what you feel. It’s not okay to allow your feelings to consume your life and keep you from living.  Reflection helps me keep things in perspective. 

Refresh: I honesty don’t know how people who don’t have God in their life make it. I’ve heard people say religion is a crutch, but I prefer to think of it as a ROCK! When all other ground is “sinking sand” He is my stability.

IMG_1459Psalm 16:11 says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” Isaiah 61:3 talks about God’s gifts for consolation … He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.  

When I am lacking joy, the most refreshing thing I can do is get into the presence of God! How do we do that? We enter His gates with thanksgiving. We come into His courts with praise. (Psalm 100:4)

I LOVE to worship. Anytime I want to be in God’s presence, I simply turn on my favorite worship music, close my eyes, picture the throne room of Heaven and sing to The Lord. I can imagine the angels of Heaven bowing before Him crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” There is no sorrow in Heaven!

PRAY: Father, Thank You for loving me, “just as I am.” As we enter this season of celebrating Your birth, help me to focus on the true source of my joy … Your presence. I echo the choir of Heaven and cry out: Holy, Holy, Holy are You Lord! Help me to recognize the warning signs of depression and to combat them by spending time in Your loving embrace. 







Are You Broken?

IMG_1455“The LORD is near to the heartbroken And He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in heart, truly sorry for their sin).” PSALM‬ ‭34:18‬ ‭AMP‬

Imagine your own child committing treason against you and trying to steal your Kingdom. This was the situation King David found himself in as he wrote this verse.

Like the rest of us, David was human. He often wrote from the depth of despair. I have always admired David’s honesty with God. It reminds me that I can be honest with Him too. No need for games. After all, He knows my heart. My thoughts are not hidden from Him.

In the midst of his heartache David chose to praise God, rather than blame Him for his circumstances. He began this Psalm by saying, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” David lived with an attitude of gratitude. He was able to praise God in spite of his pain because he knew, unlike his son, God had not abandoned him.

Nor has He abandoned you. I pray, you will find peace and encouragement today knowing that God is close. He has not left or forgotten you. He sees your pain and He longs to clothe you with compassion and comfort. He understands your anger and confusion. It’s okay to be honest with Him.

The worse thing we can do when we are broken is to isolate ourselves. We need each other. If there is no one you can reach out to, reach out to me!  

PRAY: Father, like David, I choose to bless You at all times. Your praise will continually be in my mouth! Thank You for the promise of Your presence. I know You are with me and I am never alone. Lord, I am broken. Please comfort me and clothe me with compassion. I may not understand my circumstances but I know You love me and Your love will sustain me. Help me to trust You as I walk through this valley. Anoint my spirit with Your oil of gladness. Heal my brokenness Lord.