Though you might not expect it, one of the most heartbreaking things of being a teacher and youth leader is seeing the ease in which the world’s chaos comes to their phones.
It’s a lot harder to focus on the present as a kid. All the world’s turmoil, all its sin and darkness, is transmitted right to their pockets by a 5G network that we pay for – and are at a serious disadvantage without.
I shake my head. We didn’t have to deal with this at our age. You can teach them which battles to fight, how to pick trustworthy sources and process the avalanche. But sometimes you hear it in their voices: how much of the world will even be around once I’m tossing my tassel?
Anxiety and depression flourish with growing darkness. In these last days, these darknesses have closed in ever more tightly – though, as they say, the night is darkest just before the dawn.
God’s steadfast love manifests in some promises that speak the language of anxiety and depression.
1. “I do not condemn you for this.”
Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Many Christians are under the impression that depression is a sin, a failure to adequately read (or believe) Scripture. They rebuke the anxious and depressed accordingly.
I don’t count myself in this camp. Anxiety and depression can stem from a place of spiritual ignorance (how depressing indeed our future would be without the hope of God!). But they can also be chemical, seasonal, hormonal, the product of spiritual warfare, or simply the soul’s response to tragedy. I know people whose depression clears up with caffeine. Others can shed it by changing lifestyles or thought patterns.
More importantly, condemnation of the mentally beleaguered forgets the work of the Cross. If offenses like extramarital sex, drug addiction, and murder cannot block God’s forgiveness for the repentant, then anxiety and depression most certainly cannot. This reality ought to reign in our judgments, soften the often contemptuous tone we level towards the depressed. They are instead candidates for God’s compassion – as are we all.
2. “I’m happy to reassure you as often as you need.”
Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23)
One hallmark of anxiety and depression is seeking frequent reassurance of love – even from those who are closest and most loyal. Ever felt like you’re always vaguely “in trouble” somehow? Ever seen a friend act distant and assumed the problem is you, that you upset them with some little offhand word or action a month ago and they’re just too polite to tell you? Anxiety brings this stuff in spades.
I have friends with severe anxiety, and it’s amazing to watch their spouses. They know their mates’ needs, and they’ll “check in” emotionally with them on a regular basis. During a long church function, they sometimes won’t let an hour pass without swinging by to see how they’re doing. Though knowing they can’t be God to their spouses, they offer what they can. They don’t groan, roll their eyes, or tell their struggling spouses to buck up. They took “in sickness and in health” seriously.
Well, it’s not like God will be outdone in compassion by a human. He, too, overflows. He is not stingy, doling out a little love here and there, expecting it to tide us over for weeks and then chiding us when we long for more. Nothing in Scripture suggests that sort of thing. He welcomes a daily dependence on him, promotes it, encourages it. If he gets frustrated over anything, it’s that we don’t depend on him, that we do try the weeks-long independence thing and wind up dry and desolate!
No, God loves to check in with us. His words of love are written down in black and white, available with the simple turning of a page; the sunshine, oxygen, and moisture in the atmosphere do not run out; and he tells us to be filled with his Spirit, a regular activity like eating or drinking. He is not embarrassed or annoyed that we seek him again and again; he is delighted. And responsive.
3. “My power and strength are available to you.”
I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
What more needs said? Life with anxiety and depression need not be a weary, half-conscious stumble. Instead, it can be a valiant fight. God has made so much available – not just through practical strategies but from the very armories of heaven. No matter our progress, the choice is clear. Fight – God is on your side.
4. “You will get a new mind one day.”
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
Imagine the moment we see God and receive our glorified bodies. New minds will come with them.
Imagine the incessant weight of sadness lifted, falling from our souls like useless scales, never to burden us again. Imagine constant lightness of heart, for no reason other than God always wanted it for us. No more chronic, racing overthinking, or endless suspicion, or that corner of your soul that perpetually waits for the other shoe to drop. Every corner of our soul now conquered and owned and healed fully by God.
Until then, it’s a war. No doubt about it. But the war will end. For the Christian, God has planned an entirely new body and mind, and nothing can avert his work. It will be yours. In the meantime, I’m praying for you, and rooting for you.
I’m glad you tuned in today. If you found this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!