March 3, 2023
Having Anxiety or Depression Doesn't Mean Your Faith Is Flawed
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"... I have loved you with an everlasting love ..." Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
Out of the blue, as a new mom, I started having panic attacks, debilitating insomnia and anxiety ... and I didn't know why.
On top of that, I found it hard to confess I was struggling emotionally because people might question my faith. They might accuse me of not trusting God enough or just tell me worry was a sin. If I told them I was feeling numb, lonely, anxious or depressed, they might say I just wasn't praying enough, reading the Bible enough or applying Scripture correctly.
But mental health issues happen to everyday people - even to believers who have strong faith and godly community. I know because it happened to me.
Unfortunately, some Christians did make me feel ashamed about my emotional struggles. But as I discovered God's view on healing, I realized my hardship wasn’t caused by flawed faith. It was others' views toward mental health and faith that were incorrect.
Still, I didn't want anyone to think I was broken, so I kept quiet and prayed it would go away.
But God wanted to heal me, not shame me.
My PTSD therapist told me a soldier doesn't experience trauma when he's fighting on the battlefield but when he's finally home - safe to face what was too difficult to process at the time. It's a function of the human nervous system, designed by God to protect us when hurt, fear or loss is too overwhelming.
I'd never experienced physical abuse. But what my therapist said next changed everything: "Did you know emotional abuse has the same impact as physical abuse? Emotional wounds need healing too."
Feeling emotionally broken is not a sign that your faith is weak. In fact, seeking healing for your heart may be the most powerful act of faith God is calling you to today.
To encourage you, here are three myths and truths that I discovered as I researched Scripture during my own healing journey:
- Myth: Jesus commanded us not to worry, so if you worry, you are failing God and disappointing Him. Truth: Jesus tells us not to worry because He cares about us. He's lovingly concerned about how worry affects our well-being.
In Matthew 6:25, Jesus encourages us not to worry because God promises to provide for us just as He does for the birds and flowers. God doesn't expect us to be perfect or worry-free, and He understands why we worry. He tells us not to worry because, out of His unconditional love, He doesn't want us to live a life ruled by worry or fear. He comforts us in all our troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) The more we learn to run into His arms, the less worry owns us.
- Myth: If you don't have peace or joy, you must not be trusting God enough.
Truth: Emotional honesty is part of faith, as is the intimate act of trusting God with your real self instead of hiding how you feel or trying to do more.
Jesus whispers, "Don't hide." He invites us to come and rest, (Matthew 11:28) whether we're weary, anxious, angry or stressed. Jesus tells us to come as we are - imperfectly His.
- Myth: If you read God's Word more, pray more, praise more and give thanks more, you'll have peace surpassing all understanding. Truth: Faith is not emotional amnesia. Faith in God gives us the courage to face the brokenness of life and seek healing for the losses we've suffered.
Jesus Himself obeyed, prayed, praised and gave thanks perfectly. Yet He suffered emotional anguish, overwhelmed by impending physical and emotional abuse, abandonment and betrayal: He said, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Mark 14:34, NIV).
You matter to God, and how you feel matters to God. In Jeremiah 31:3, He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." Especially when you've been hurt, He wants to take care of you with His powerful, healing presence.
Moving by faith with Jesus toward wellness is unique to each woman. For some, healing with Jesus means being more honest when we pray and receiving God's comfort instead of hiding our emotions. Healing may involve asking Jesus to give you courage to draw healthy boundaries in toxic relationships so you can flourish instead of living in constant stress and fear.
Healing with Jesus also includes breaking the code of silence. When we share with faith-filled women for support, encouragement and prayer, our hearts heal. And if you, like me, have suffered emotional trauma or loss, God can give you strength and wisdom to investigate and heal your wounds with the help of a Christian therapist or counselor.
God's Word will give you strength to heal, with His hand holding yours. "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18, NIV)
Let God love you. You are beloved.
Jesus, please give me courage to take steps to heal today. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Grab a copy of Bonnie Gray's new book to lower stress, Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm. And when you preorder Breathe, you can sign up to get a FREE digital copy of the book and join the Breathe Soul Care Wellness Book Club to break free from worry, stress and anxiety! The book club starts next week, March 9, with soul care guide and author Bonnie Gray. You’ll get four live sessions and community support. To join the wellness book club and learn healthy habits to restore God’s peace and joy, purchase your copy of Breathe, then go to Bonnie’s website to sign up here and claim your free bonuses!
By investing in just a few minutes of prayer, God can help us redirect our minds away from anxious thoughts and onto truths and safe assurances found in Him. Lysa TerKeurst put together a FREE resource called "7 Morning and Evening Prayers To Get You Through This Week" so you can begin experiencing the peace God provides through connecting with Him daily. Sign up to receive this resource here.
Take this free "Soul Care Quiz" - your personal wellness assessment - to learn what type of care you need to lower stress and spark God's peace and joy in your life!
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Isaiah 43:1, "... ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!" (NASB)
What helps you experience God's healing touch? Which of the three truths from today’s devotion do you need to take to heart?
What steps toward healing will you take today, with Jesus' help? Share with us in the comments!
© 2023 by Bonnie Gray. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
P.O. Box 3189
Matthews, NC 28106