What is the climate of your home? I am not referring to what the thermostat is registering but rather its emotional climate. Does a sense of peacefulness greet your family members and guests or is there a cloud of worry that hovers in the atmosphere? One of the most important contributions you can make to a nurturing home environment is to sweep worry from it as quickly as you gather the shards of a broken glass.
A walk through a bookstore, pharmacy, or an internet search quickly reveals that worry, anxiety, and depression are prevalent maladies in twenty-first century society. Research reports that 2 to 8% of the population suffers from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This disorder is one of the major reasons people choose to visit a counselor. Women tend to seek help twice as often as men. There is no specific age for the onset of GAD, yet research suggests that it commonly surfaces between the ages of 20 and 40. Symptoms include sweating, accelerated heart rate, dry mouth, stomach upsets, dizziness, and lightheadedness[i]
Panic Disorder (PD) affects 1.7% of the U.S. adult population between the ages of 18 and 54. Women are twice as likely to develop panic disorder. Panic Disorder causes people to feel terror suddenly and sometimes unexpectedly. Accompanying physical signs include dizziness, lightheadedness, rapid pulse, trembling, chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, numbness, and a fear of going crazy or of dying. Panic Disorder can start to become debilitating when the person suffering begins to avoid situations or stimuli in which an attack is assumed to occur.[ii]
While the medical terminology associated with worry, anxiety, and depression may be new, their incidence is as old as antiquity—Solomon’s words, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) accurately summarizes their longevity. Sarah and Hannah fretted about their barren wombs (Genesis 16:1-16; 1 Samuel 1:1-28). Naomi’s anxiety caused her to develop a bitter spirit (Ruth 1:1-22), while Job’s wife’s despair was so great that she counseled her husband to “curse God and die!” (Job 1:9). Biblically the verb care (merimnao) is used to describe anxiety, worry, and depression[iii]—behaviors that divide the mind between worthwhile interests and damaging thoughts. The Apostle James succinctly describes the miserable condition of the person with a divided mind—“a double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). Worry generates many negative and no positive results. Those who choose to worry allow themselves to become victims rather than victors over circumstances because they chose to “lean on their own understanding” rather than trusting in the timeless principles contained in the Word of God (Proverbs 3:5-6). What is your reflex reaction when circumstances beyond your control occur—do you worry or do you trust?
Just as good physical health is the result of implementing sound health practices, so good spiritual health is the result of applying sound spiritual practices. God's Health Plan for a peaceful heart , the opposite of one debilitated by worry, contains four essential elements:
Weight: a need to eliminate unneeded cares (1 Peter 5: 7-10).
Pulse Rate: the rhythm of one’s gratitude (Colossians 3:12-17).
Blood pressure: reading of anxiety over trust (Psalm 55:22).
Diet: regular intake and submission to the life-giving thoughts of the Lord (Jeremiah 15:16).
Let’s take some time to examine your spiritual health—answer each of the questions that follow using specific examples from your life. They are divided into categories to allow you to assess where your strengths and weaknesses (opportunities for growth) occur.
As I attempt to maintain a healthy spiritual weight do I . . .
- Understand that I have no need to be afraid of my future because God will instruct me and teach me in the way in which I should go; He will counsel me with His eye on me (Psalm 32:8)?
- Have the confidence that there is no good thing that God will withhold from me if I walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11)?
- Believe God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all I ask or think because the Holy Spirit works within me (Ephesians 3:20)?
- Trust that God will supply all my needs according to His riches and glory (Philippians 4:19)?
- Ask in faith without doubting, realizing that the one who doubts is unstable (James 1:6-8)?
As I attempt to maintain a healthy spiritual pulse rate do I . . .
- Have the confidence that the Lord will take care of my concerns and thank Him for doing so (Psalm 138:8)?
- Believe that God cares for me because I am His child and thank Him that I have no need to be anxious for tomorrow, since it will be taken care of by Him (Matthew 6:25-34)?
- Thank my heavenly Father that He gives me peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27)?
- Refuse to waver in unbelief but grow strong in faith, giving God the glory, and be fully assured that what He has promised He is able to do (Romans 4:20-21)?
- Have confidence that if I ask for anything in God’s will, He will hear me, but I will have a gracious limitation because His will is always best for me (1 John 5:14-15)?
As I attempt to maintain a healthy spiritual blood pressure do I . . .
- Trust in the Lord with my whole heart, and refuse to lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6)?
- Believe that I will accomplish much if I have faith and do not doubt (Matthew 21:21)?
- Focus on the reality that I have no reason to be anxious about what I shall eat, the clothes I need, or where I will live because God will provide all these things for me. If God can take care of the birds and the lilies of the field, then why should I worry about my needs? Am I not more valuable than they (Luke 12:22-34)?
- Understand that it is impossible for me to be successful and please God if I lack faith (Hebrews 11:6)?
- Let Him have all my worries and cares, for He is always thinking about me and watching everything that concerns me (1 Peter 5:7)?
As I attempt to maintain a healthy spiritual diet do I . . .
- Have the confidence that His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is perfected in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)?
- Consider that it is God who is at work in me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)?
- Have the faith that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all I ask or think because the Holy Spirit works within me (Ephesians 3:20)?
- Understand that I am not adequate in myself, but my adequacy is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5)?
- Believe that because I have been crucified in Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live, I live by faith (Galatians 2:20)?
If we desire to be spiritually strong, we will refuse to divide our minds with worry since it
- does not accomplish anything (Psalm 37:8)
- is needless to worry because God has everything under control (Matthew 6:31-33)
- can only be removed by prayer (Philippians 4:6-7)
- is a waste of time (Luke 12:25-26).
Just as worry divides the mind, peace unites it. If you are to win over worry, anxiety, and depression then you must fix your mind on your heavenly Father for only He provides perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). As you do so your home becomes an oasis for all who enter its doors.
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[i] Found at www.anxietysecrets.com/anxpanic.htm.
[iii] W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Revell), 1981, s.v. “care, careful, carefully, carefulness.”