How do you deal with the stress, fear and anxiety that currently pervades our society? According to a recent study, 40 million Americans have an anxiety disorder. I read recently that the average …
How do you deal with the stress, fear and anxiety that currently pervades our society? According to a recent study, 40 million Americans have an anxiety disorder. I read recently that the average high school student today has the same level of anxiety as a psychiatric patient in the 1950s. This is a national problem. If you grapple with anxiety, you are not alone.
The causes of this mental illness can be complex and I certainly don’t wish to oversimplify the issue. But I’d like to suggest that at least part of the remedy concerns where we focus our minds. There’s a treasure trove of peace, confidence and security in the straightforward and basic beliefs of Christianity, the gospel of Jesus Christ. If these truths are kept front and center in one’s mind, they can bring a powerful change in outlook.
First, it all starts with the simple fact that God exists. That is a powerful statement, in and of itself, if you consider the implications. But we live in a society characterized by a strident secularism. Increasingly, ideas about God and his reality are not permitted in the public square or in many basic institutions around us. God, in many regards, has been pushed to the margins, and the perceived relevance to life is waning on the whole.
But there is strong evidence that leads to the conclusion that the world owes its existence to an all-powerful God. The beginning of the universe, the laws of physics, the information in DNA, the existence of objective morals and even near-death experiences are difficult to explain apart from God. If God is real, then it follows that your life has meaning, value and purpose. God made you for a reason, and you are a person of true intrinsic worth.
Second, the Bible makes it clear that God wants a relationship with you and has paved the way for that through Jesus Christ. Though the good world that God made has been marred by human sin and rebellion, God did not leave us to ourselves. He came for us, being born into this world as a helpless baby. He took on human nature in the person of Jesus Christ and he offered his sinless life to pay the penalty for your sin. Romans 5:8 says, “God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Think about it: As one who bears God’s image, the Lord puts such great value on your life that he suffered and died in your place so that by believing in Christ, you may be reconciled, forgiven and set free to be who he created you to be. As a result, all of your guilt has been removed, erased, canceled if you belong to Jesus, if you have believed in him and received him as your Lord and Savior.
Third, he has promised to take care of you in this life and take you home to be with him for eternity. The most repeated command in the Bible is “do not fear.” The Lord doesn’t want you to live in the prison of anxiety. He has plans for you, to bless you and cause you to flourish through Christ. Jesus even said that whoever follows him and builds their life upon him will have a firm foundation, like a house built on a solid rock rather than shifting sand. He also promised that he would never abandon you.
There is a lot more that could be added. But even these three truths can make an enormous difference to anyone’s mental health. But it won’t happen passively.
Here’s the thing: For these truths to bring a benefit, you have to think about them, meditate on them, and count them to be true of you because of your faith in Christ. They are objective truths, but you won’t experience the peace they can give you unless you focus your mind on them and then live out their implications.
Peace and grace to you.
(David Pool is the senior pastor for Grace Point.)