Facing Giants: Defeating Anxiety
I wanted to add some material supporting last week's teaching on anxiety. Don't miss the "FUN STUFF" at the end of the article. It's worth the read to get there!
Lots of us can recall the Charlie Brown cartoon where, after going through an entire list of fears people have, Lucy, the psychiatrist who is "in", lists pantiphobia, or the "fear of everything". Charlie Brown exclaims loudly, "That's it!" and knocks Lucy for a loop. (FunStuff 1) It seems that our culture is deeply suffering from "Pantiphobia" or a generalized anxiety. Many, even as they read this, can taste the adrenaline in their mouths and feel the tightness in their chests.
Look at some of the following stats (1):
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
It's not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Find out more about depression.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) - GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.Women are twice as likely to be affected as men. GAD often co-occurs with major depression.
Panic Disorder (PD) - PD affects 6 million adults, or 2.7% of the U.S. population.Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
Social Anxiety Disorder - SAD affects 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the U.S. population.SAD is equally common among men and women and typically begins around age 13. According to a 2007 ADAA survey, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.
Specific PhobiasSpecific phobias affect 19 million adults, or 8.7% of the U.S. population.Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.Symptoms typically begin in childhood; the average age-of-onset is 7 years old.Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.
Stress - Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at one time or another. The difference between them is that stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress. Read APA: Stress in America: A National Mental Health Crisis (Oct 2020)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - OCD affects 2.2 million adults, or 1.0% of the U.S. population.OCD is equally common among men and women.The average age of onset is 19, with 25 percent of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - PTSD affects 7.7 million adults, or 3.5% of the U.S. population.Women are more likely to be affected than men.Rape is the most likely trigger of PTSD: 65% of men and 45.9% of women who are raped will develop the disorder.Childhood sexual abuse is a strong predictor of lifetime likelihood for developing PTSD.
Major Depressive DisorderThe leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3.MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5 years old.More prevalent in women than in men.
Persistent depressive disorder, or PDD, (formerly called dysthymia) is a form of depression that usually continues for at least two years.Affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. (about 3.3 million American adults). Only 61.7% of adults with MDD are receiving treatment. The average age of onset is 31 years old. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)
Related IllnessesMany people with an anxiety disorder also have a co-occurring disorder or physical illness, which can make their symptoms worse and recovery more difficult. It’s essential to be treated for both disorders.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.
I mean, I just read through that list and felt a little tightness myself!
What Is the Answer?
All kidding aside, it is a problem and Jesus is the solution! Jesus, Himself said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10b NKJV). So this "zoe"(2) quality of life, this heaven birthed and blessed life is to available to us on earth, and, is something to be anticipated here and now. Jesus wants to give us "everything in abundance", (c.f. Brian Simmon's Passion Traslation Bible, John 10:10), and when he gives, there is no sorrow attached. (Proverbs 10:22 - "22 The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it." NKJV)
So if Jesus wants us to experience this new kind of life that is free from anxiety, how are we to do it? Now, that is an appropriate question!
Know Your Battlefield
Joyce Meyer wrote a famous book, "The Battlefield of Your Mind". Almost all spiritual warfare starts with the way we think. Romans 12:2 states, " And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (NKJV) The transformation of the mind is the greatest place to start. Fight the battle for your mind first, then it becomes easier to fight elsewhere. When I used to train for missions and healing team trips, we would tell people to expect an assault on their thinking. Many would tell us that they were sure (especially in the old days where we could ring someone up with a cell phone) that their family was in danger, house on fire, etc. When we would get this kind of traffic in our thinking, which never happened it turned out, we would prepare for an amazing session or service knowing that the enemy had once again overplayed his hand. We would see amazing miracles and have so much fun!
Conquering the thinking in your mind is also important because it is in your thinking that problems grow, situations seem hopeless, and solutions seem to be just out of reach. Ever felt that way? I have, to be sure. When it gets like this, the problem isn't the problem, the problem is how my mind is thinking about the problem. Do remember that when you head into hard times, the Bible says to, "2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.,"(James 1:2-8 NKJV). The words "Count it all joy", literally in the original language mean to "lead with joy". We are to lead with joy into the trial! That takes a mind renewal, in fact, radical mind renewal!
For instance, what if we saw problems as opportunities and the closing in of circumstances as the opening in the kingdom for new possibilities?
What if the "trial", to use Bible language, or the source of our anxiety in front of us wasn't there to limit or crush us, but to provide a pathway to freedom and abundant life (zoe)?
Yeah, I would get joyful as well looking at it that way!
Know You're in a Battle
Talk about draft dodgers, most believers don't know we are in a war! There are many who miss the simple fact that Jesus coming in the manger wasn't for the purpose of cute Christmas Carols, but was in fact a declaration of war. The angelic host that night attest to it. "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to men." This was the angels declaration. God's glory was magnified because the conquering King was inserted behind the enemy lines to free the prize of humanity for God and His kingdom.
Every healing, every prayer, every act of kindness in Jesus' name, every and anything done for the kingdom is a movement of war on the field of battle. That is simply the truth.
But we don't fixate on the enemy or the battle, we become aware of the strategic nature of what we enter into. We don't fight the enemy by yelling at Him and using a formula, but we bind and loose mainly through the acts of the kingdom: heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons and the like. Every time we do this, it is an aggressive act against the enemy of our souls. During COVID many began to seek the Lord like never before and were shocked later to find, anxiety and push back all over their lives! The answer isn't to retreat, it is to keep doing what you were doing in the first place and go forward! You see, the enemy's main ploy is distraction. If he can distract you, he can make you ignore what was lighting the spiritual fire in the first place. Let me explain it this way: you can make a fire go out through suffocating it with water or dirt, or by ignoring it and feeding the fire. The enemy tries both tactics, both onslaught to overwhelm and distraction to produce a dying flame, but either way his goals is to distract you away from what you were doing that got you on the "hit list". Your distraction is just what he needed. Now, you turn your attention to the crisis, to the this "urgent thing" which he has said would be your undoing if you didn't and the truth is this: you pull away from seeking after the Lord, being in His presence, spending time reading His love letter, the Bible, doing the stuff of Jesus because you end up putting out fires everyday.
SLOW DOWN. BREATHE. It will be okay. God can turn this trial or temptation into a tempering of your heart and soul. He has provided a way out and forward. But, YOU MUST SLOW DOWN AND BREATHE. Listen to His heart for a moment and don't stop the things you did to get you here. Galatians 6:9 says, " And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." But did you know that saying shows up twice? 2 Thessalonians 3:13 also says, "But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good." Sometimes, staying persistent in the things of God wins the day!
You Have Not Because You Ask Not
Many of us think that complaining to God is prayer. It will do until a better thing comes along, and the better thing is here! Jesus Himself introduced a prayer full of cures for the things we face in His prayer for us, commonly known as the Lord's prayer. Sonship and identity, worship, dominion and kingdom, needs from tomorrow, today, forgiveness as an act of war, prayer against the wearing down of the enemy, and a little more worship declaring the excellency and glory of God. It is the model prayer!
Anxiety is addressed throughout.
Identity is a source of anxiety: am I enough? The answer is your relationship with the Father and your brothers and sisters.
Worship is the way we create an "enthronement" of God in the prayers of His people - Holy is Your Name.
Next, the declaration of dominion over every root cause of anxiety. "Kingdom come!" "Will be done!" "On earth in my situation just like in heaven."
It then addresses the anxiety of need. Give us today the bread of tomorrow. It could be prayed, give me today, the wisdom of tomorrow! Or, give me today, the solutions of tomorrow. The applications of this prayer are endless.
Forgiveness as an act of war is addressed next. When we forgive, it releases heaven in a powerful way. The gaps where the enemy can create a stronghold are removed.
Then the prayer goes after the direct wear down of the enemy. Deliver us from evil is the word, "ponerous"(3). It is a picture of a grinding wheel that wears things down. In this prayer is the ask for deliverance from frontal assaults of the enemy and from the gradual, imperceptible wearing down from evil. Anxiety and worry are the grinding wheel of the enemy in our lives. A prayer for deliverance is necessary and needed!
These are just three of many remedies for anxiety. Remember what I said Sunday, if you are on medications, there should be zero shame for that, just add the understanding and wisdom that life in Christ brings in addition and watch what happens!
Let's face down the giant of anxiety in Jesus' name!
Be sure to check out the "Fun Stuff" at the end of the article where I will link some resources you can watch and/or listen to.
(1) Taken from the website: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
(2) g2222. ζωή zōē; from 2198; life (literally or figuratively): — life(-time). Compare 5590. AV (134) - life 133, lifetime 1;
life- the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate every living soul
life- of the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him both to the hypostatic "logos" and to Christ in whom the "logos" put on human nature life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever. (Strongs Exhaustive Concordance)
(3) g4190. πονηρός ponēros; from a derivative of 4192; hurtful, i.e. evil (properly, in effect or influence, and thus differing from 2556, which refers rather to essential character, as well as from 4550, which indicates degeneracy from original virtue); figuratively, calamitous; also (passively) ill, i.e. diseased; but especially (morally) culpable, i.e. derelict, vicious, facinorous; neuter (singular) mischief, malice, or (plural) guilt; masculine (singular) the devil, or (plural) sinners: — bad, evil, grievous, harm, lewd, malicious, wicked(-ness). See also 4191.
AV (76) - evil 51, wicked 10, wicked one 6, evil things 2, misc 7;
full of labours, annoyances, hardships pressed and harassed by labours bringing toils, annoyances, perils; of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble
bad, of a bad nature or condition in a physical sense: diseased or blind in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad - The word is used in the nominative case in Mt. 6:13. This usually denotes a title in the Greek. Hence Christ is saying, deliver us from "The Evil", and is probably referring to Satan.
And I couldn't resist!