Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘Anxiety’

A Prayer for Dealing with Hard News and a Hurting Heart

SOURCE:  Scotty Smith

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah   Psalm 62:5-8

Heavenly Father, like me, many of your children begin this day sitting in hard news—news which makes our hearts hurt badly.

The stewardship of a hurting heart is even more important than the stewardship of the money you entrust to us, for from our hearts flow the springs of life (Prov. 4:23). The same spring can carry life and death—nutrients and contaminants. What is in our hearts will flow from our hearts… through our thoughts, words and choices.

A hurting heart will look for relief somewhere, so, we pour out our hearts to you, dear Father. For you are a haven of rest, the source of all hope, the rock of our salvation and a refuge of grace. We come to you right now, certain of your welcome and desperate for your care.

Father, in the coming hours, center and settle our hearts. The good news of the gospel must be more compelling than the painful news of the day. Hard news will either harden us before men or humble us before you. By faith, we choose to humble ourselves before you.

Help us to do much more gospel-ing today than gossiping; much more praying than presuming; much more weeping than wondering; much more loving than launching; much more care-giving than detail-seeking. In Christ, you have called us to be ambassadors of reconciliation. In our pain, don’t let us choose to be agents of division.

We pray for friends who are hurting. Bring the healing balm of the gospel. We pray for friends who are angry. Bring the calming power of your Spirit. We pray for friends who want to hurt those who have hurt others. May they revoke revenge and run to Jesus. We pray for friends who only see their sin and are filled with condemning guilt.  May they clearly see the cross and be filled with gospel hope.

Father, we pray for those who are more zealous to be right than Christ-like. Arrest them in their way, before they do more damage to others. We pray for those who need to come into the light. Free them from their darkness, before they do more damage to themselves.

Please, Father, for the glory of Jesus, write stories of redemption from the ink of this hard news. We have never longed more for the Day when Jesus returns to finish making all things new. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

Let Jesus Argue With Your Soul About Being Anxious

SOURCE:  John Piper/Desiring God

We should be slow to treat Jesus as if he doesn’t know what he is doing. He is not naïve in the way he deals with our anxiety. In Matthew 6:25-34 he tells us three times not to be anxious (vv. 25, 31, 34) and gives us eight reasons not to be anxious.

Evidently he thinks this will help. So don’t call it simplistic. Call it grace. Believe him. Take every reason and preach it to your soul as true.  Say,

Soul, this is true. Jesus Christ says so. Trust him. He died for you. He loves you. He created you. He knows you. No one — no counselor, no pastor, no friend — knows as much about you as he does. Listen to him. Let these reasons sink in. Bank on them. Now, let’s get up and do what we need to do. Be gone anxiety.

Here’s a summary of what he said:

  1. Life is more than food and the body more than clothing (Matthew 6:25).
  2. God feeds the birds and you are more valuable than they are (Matthew 6:26).
  3. It’s pointless. It adds not one hour to your life (Matthew 6:27).
  4. If God clothes ephemeral grass, he will clothe eternal you (Matthew 6:28-30).
  5. Unbelievers are anxious about stuff. And you are not an unbeliever (Matthew 6:32a).
  6. Your father (!) knows that you need all these things you’re anxious about (Matthew 6:32b).
  7. When you seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, what you need is added to you.
  8. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Tomorrow’s trouble stays there (Matthew 6:34).

Worry Cripples My Thinking

Letting the Fog Lift

SOURCE:  John MacArthur/Grace to You

“Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on.” – Matthew 6:25

God’s Word commands us not to worry.

A story I once read reminded me that worry is like fog. According to the article, dense fog covering seven city blocks a hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water—divided into sixty billion droplets. In the right form, a few gallons of water can cripple a large city.

Similarly, the object of a person’s worry is usually quite small compared to the way it can cripple his thinking or harm his life. Someone has said, “Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.”

All of us have to admit that worry is a part of life. The Bible commands us, however, not to worry. To break that command is sin. Worry is the equivalent of saying, “God, I know You mean well by what You say, but I’m just not sure you can pull it off.” Worry is the sin of distrusting the promises and providence of God; yet we do it all the time.

We don’t worry about anything as much as we worry about the basics of life. In that regard we are similar to the people whom Jesus addressed in Matthew 6:25-34. They were worried about having sufficient food and clothing. I suppose if they were to try and legitimize their worry, they would say, “After all, we’re not worrying about extravagant things. We’re just worrying about our next meal, a glass of water, and something to wear.”

But there is no reason for a believer to worry about the basics of life since Jesus says He will provide for him. You are neither to hoard material possessions as a hedge against the future (vv. 19-24) nor be anxious about your basic needs (vv. 2534).

Instead of letting the fog of worry roll in, it’s time to let it lift.

Suggestions for Prayer:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. . . . Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:46).

For Further Study:
What counsel does 1 Peter 5:7 give?

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From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.

Am I “Thinking” or “Worrying?”

Are You Controlled By the Future?

SOURCE:   Josh Etter/Desiring God

Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

‘Take no thought for the morrow,’ means ‘Do not be guilty of anxious thoughts about the morrow’.

It does not mean that you do not take any thought at all, otherwise the farmer would not plough and harrow and sow. He is looking to the future, but he does not spend the whole of his time wondering and worrying about the end results of his work. No, he takes reasonable thought and then he leaves it.

Here again the whole question is where to draw the line.

Thinking is right up to a point, but if you go beyond that point it becomes worry and anxiety and it paralyzes and cripples. In other words, although it is very right to think about the future, it is very wrong to be controlled by it.

The difficulty with people who are prey to these fears is that they are controlled by the future, they are dominated by thoughts of it, and there they are wringing their hands, doing nothing, depressed by fears about it. In fact, they are completely governed and mastered by the unknown future, and that is always wrong.

To take thought is right, but to be controlled by the future is all wrong.

Spiritual Depression, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 98, paragraphing mine.

Are my circumstances too much for God to handle?

One of God’s Great “Don’ts”

SOURCE:  Oswald Chambers

Do not fret— it only causes harm —Psalm 37:8

Fretting means getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or spiritually.

It is one thing to say, “Do not fret,” but something very different to have such a nature that you find yourself unable to fret.  It’s easy to say, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7) until our own little world is turned upside down and we are forced to live in confusion and agony like so many other people.

Is it possible to “rest in the Lord” then? If this “Do not” doesn’t work there, then it will not work anywhere. This “Do not” must work during our days of difficulty and uncertainty, as well as our peaceful days, or it will never work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work for anyone else.  Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God Himself.

Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are.  Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.

Have you been propping up that foolish soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God to handle?

Set all your opinions and speculations aside and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about whatever concerns you. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God.

ABBA, FATHER

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

In Mark 14, we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He is in deep distress as he looks ahead to the Cross.  Usually, Jesus referred to God as “Father”.  With his soul grieved to the point of death, Jesus prays, Abba, Father, all things are possible for you…” (Vs. 36 ESV).  The word “Abba” can be easily translated as “daddy”.  It is a very intimate term that Jesus uses at a point of incredible anxiety, dismay and fear.

Most often, we conceptualize God as distant and far away.  He is God — Holy… Magnificent… Powerful… Almighty.  It somehow goes against our nature to think of Him with such a depth of affectionate that we can call him “dad” or “daddy”.  After all, Jesus is His only begotten son. He has a relationship with His Father that we simply do not believe is possible for us to have.

In Romans 8:15, Paul turns this upside down when he says, “…you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’”. (ESV)  Again in Galatians 4:6 Paul confirms this line of thought.  “And because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of His son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father’”. (ESV)  Remember the Garden where we found Jesus?  He went from the garden, to Golgotha, and there drank the bitter cup of the “cross” that God had prepared for Him — for us.   A cup that Jesus drank out of obedience to His “Abba Father”.

“For our sake He (God) made Him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

For what?  So that we could become the sons and daughters of God.  Joint heirs with Christ.  And so that your Heavenly Father, especially in the distresses of life, can be found. (Psalm 46:1)   Yes, He is there for you… even now.   Waiting to turn your life around.

Overcoming Fear, Anxiety and Worry

SOURCE:  The Gospel Coalition/Brian Borgman

Anxiety and fear are increasingly becoming a way of life. Unemployment and under-employment continue to rise. People continue to lose their homes. The world theater plays out its dangerous acts, with one maniac after another taking center stage. Our own beloved nation is in turmoil. If ever there was a time for fear, anxiety and worry, it seems like it is now. Yet, for God’s people we are called to “be anxious for nothing,” “do not fear what they fear,” and “do not worry about tomorrow.” Either these are outdated truths for simpler times or they are the abiding and timeless principles of God’s Word. I am banking on the latter!

Fear, anxiety and worry are definitely emotions. Worry is a feeling of uneasiness. The word “worry” comes from an old English word meaning to be seized, usually by the throat, shaken, mangled and killed. An unpleasant thought to be sure, but an apt picture of how a disturbing thought can seize us and shake us. Fear is a distressing emotion of impending danger or pain, real or perceived. Anxiety is full on mental and emotional distress caused by fear. In the range of human emotions, this trilogy seems to be most out of our control, or so we think. After all, fear, anxiety and worry are most commonly associated with circumstances beyond our control. But here is a challenging thought: the very emotions we believe to be most outside of our control are the very ones God tells us not to have. To put it another way, God tells us to control our emotions. To take this a little farther, God actually diagnoses our fear, anxiety and worry and gives us the remedy to overcome them.

Not all fear is bad by the way. If I am afraid of getting my hand too close to the blade on the table saw it will make me cautious and I get to keep my hand. If I am afraid of travelling too fast on a snowy Nevada road it will inspire me to drive at a reasonable speed and keep my car out of the ditch. The kind of fear, anxiety and worry that the Bible forbids is not the legitimate fear that keeps us from diving head first off our roof, it is fear about the future, fear of others so that we are people-pleasers, worrying about the cares of this world or of tomorrow. This kind of fear, anxiety and worry leads to more sin (Psa. 37:8b; Isa. 57:11).

The problem with fear, anxiety and worry is that it is ultimately rooted in unbelief. Not fearing God, not believing that He is for us, not trusting His will for our lives and His ability to work things out for the good is the root of fear, anxiety and worry. The way to overcome these feelings that can easily grip us and throttle us is to think rightly. I know we can run to the doctor to get a pill to help with anxiety, but real peace and confidence doesn’t come from masking the emotions, it comes from dealing with the emotions through truth and right thinking. In order to overcome these powerful emotions of fear, anxiety and worry we must know and understand that these things are contrary to what God has made us in Christ. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). These emotions are also in opposition to all that God has provided for us and He has provided nothing less than Himself! “The name of the LORD (i.e., His character, who He is) is a strong tower (i.e., a safe place). The righteous run into it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10).

God’s character is good, faithful, wise and sovereign. I can trust Him because He is all that for me! Because He is all that, and more, I can take His promises to the bank; I can cling to them, preach them to myself and pray them back to God. There is real power in the Word of God and knowing “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). God’s promises can wither fear. God’s promise to be with us can calm our anxieties and relieve our worries. He invites us to cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Our God is sovereign. He loves His people. He cares for us. He is strong. His promises are sure, “Yes and Amen” in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). He calls us not to be overcome by fear, anxiety and worry, but to overcome them through faith in Him and His promises. When we preach the promises to our hearts and pray them back to God, His peace comes to us. This approach to life does not nullify pain, it does not turn a blind eye to trouble or danger, but it does say, “My God is King, He is for me, He is bigger than my problems or my trials. Why should I fear? Why should I worry? My name is graven on His hand, my name is written on His heart.” Amen!

QUOTATIONS ON FAITH

SOURCE:  Keiki Hendrix

A FAITH that hasn’t been tested can’t be trusted.
– Adrian Rogers

FAITH, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ.
 A. W. Tozer

FAITH is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.
– Blaise Pascal

A FAITH to live by, a self to live with, and a purpose to live for.
– Bob Harrington

FAITH is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
– C. S. Lewis

Obedience is the fruit of FAITH.
– Christina Rossetti

FAITH is building on what you know is here, so you can reach what you know is there.
 Cullen Hightower

FAITH is the refusal to panic.
 David Martyn Lloyd-Jones

FAITH makes all things possible… love makes all things easy.
– Dwight L. Moody

The key to FAITH is what we are willing to sacrifice to obtain it.
– Elder Cloward

If you desire FAITH, then you have FAITH enough.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

FAITH is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.
 Elton Trueblood

Flatter not thyself in thy FAITH in God if thou hast not charity for thy neighbour.
– Francis Quarles

There are no miracles for those that have no FAITH in them.
 French Proverb

The beginning of anxiety is the end of FAITH, and the beginning of true FAITH is the end of anxiety.
– George E. Mueller

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. FAITH means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

FAITH is a higher faculty than reason.
 Henry Christopher Bailey

The smallest seed of FAITH is better than the largest fruit of happiness.
– Henry David Thoreau

FAITHless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.
– J. R. R. Tolkien

Patience in the present, FAITH in the future, and joy in the doing.
– George Perera

The greatest act of FAITH is when a man understands he is not God.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

FAITH has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.
– Saint Thomas Acquinas

FAITH is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this FAITH is to see what we believe.
 St. Augustine

Vision looks inwards and becomes duty. Vision looks outwards and becomes aspiration. Vision looks upwards and becomes FAITH.
– Stephen S. Wise

You can judge the quality of their FAITH from the way they behave. Discipline is an index to doctrine.
– Tertullian

The errors of FAITH are better than the best thoughts of unbelief.
– Thomas Russell

Painting is a FAITH, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion.
– Vincent Van Gogh

It’s not dying for FAITH that’s so hard, it’s living up to it.
– William M. Thackeray

When you put FAITH, hope and love together, you can raise positive kids in a negative world.
 Zig Ziglar

EATING DISORDERS: ACTION STEPS


Identify a Target Weight

  • It is important to identify an ideal weight and target weight. Ideal weight refers to the best weight for the person when the person’s height and body type are taken into account. The body mass index (oft en abbreviated as BMI) is the most accurate measure of ideal weight, but few persons can easily work with this index.
  • A target weight is the lowest safe weight; it is the bare minimum you want someone with an eating disorder to be at. Target weight is calculated as 90 percent of midpoint of the ideal weight. It is best to have agreement on a target weight with a doctor or dietician because persons with eating disorders oft en try to negotiate this number.

Focus on Relationships

  • You will want to build a positive relationship with the person. Those with eating disorders tend to have a very hard time being open and accepting help. You will need much patience and you will need to be willing to speak the truth. Let the young woman know that she must be willing to hear the truth.
  • Encourage family members to show unconditional love to the eating disordered person. Do not criticize or compare or ask questions in a manner that causes the person to feel condemned.
  • Healing relationships with people and with God are essential to the recovery process.

Take the Focus Off of Food

  • Unless the girl is in immediate danger from starvation or electrolyte problems, examine what weight loss means to this person, what eating stands for, and what she most fears about eating.
  • Help the family to take the focus off food at home. They need to see that focusing on food is part of the disease, not the solution.

Watch for Triggers

  • Help her to see what triggers her bingeing behaviors and try to identify situations that aggravate it.
  • Help her to see what is behind her actions. Chances are, some kind of anxiety and stress is driving these actions.

Change Thinking Patterns

  • Gently question the girl’s thinking. Help her begin to see the lies behind the behaviors that are trapping her.

Examine Perfectionism

  • Examine her perfectionism. Chances are she holds herself to standards to which she does not hold her loved ones.
  • Help her to examine these standards and how they square with God’s truth revealed in Scripture.

Keep a Journal

  • Encourage the person to write in a journal about her feelings and the events of each day. She may have difficulty identifying feelings. Help her to view her feelings as normal and acceptable.

Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11:4-6

Preoccupation with food can indicate an eating disorder. When people become overly focused on food, their dependence on God suffers.

The Israelites, while not having an eating disorder, did experience a “perspective disorder” because of their focus on food. Their preoccupation with foods they did not have caused them to lose sight of God’s miraculous and loving provision of manna.

When people become preoccupied with anything other than God, they can lose their perspective of God’s care for them. People with eating disorders need to refocus on their worth in God’s eyes and be thankful for God’s provision.

Put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite.Proverbs 23:2

Some people attempt to fill the emptiness in their lives with drugs, alcohol, sex, money, or even hard work. Others use food, and such people find themselves trapped in emotional eating—leading to such problems as obesity and bulimia.

There is nothing wrong with food. There must be a balance, however, between enjoying what God has provided, and using food to meet emotional needs and thus allowing it to control one’s life.

The fruit of the Spirit called self-control applies to many areas of life, including eating. God desires to fill any emptiness, helping us to lead balanced, healthy lives.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

Some who face a difficult eating disorder—whether it be an addiction to food, or an addiction to going without food—understand the power of that addiction. God provided food for the animals and people He created in order to sustain them. Food is meant for sustenance—”foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.”

A food addiction takes the focus off God and puts it on one’s food or stomach— both of which will eventually no longer be needed.

People who struggle with eating disorders should seek Christian professional guidance to gain a proper perspective and pattern for eating.


Reactions to Sudden or Traumatic Loss

By Barbara J. Paul, Ph.D.

Grief is a normal, natural process following a loss. With a traumatic loss, the process is more complicated. People often describe it as feeling like “they are going crazy without a road map of how to do it”. Like all grief, the experience and process of traumatic grief is different for everyone.

Traumatic grief generally occurs when a death is:
” sudden, unexpected, and/or violent.
” caused by the actions of another person, an accident, suicide, homicide, or other catastrophe.
” from natural causes but there is no history of illness.

A traumatic death shatters the world of the survivor. It’s a loss that doesn’t make sense as the survivor tries to make sense and create meaning from a terrible event. The family searches for answers, confronting the fact that life is NOT fair. Bad things DO happen to good people and the world doesn’t feel safe.

This shattering of belief about the world and how it functions compounds the tasks of grieving. Many times, one’s spiritual belief system may no longer work; another loss for the bereaved.

In the initial days, weeks, and months, the individual may go from periods of numbness to intense emotions in brief time periods. In general, it takes two years or more for people go through the grieving process and adapt to a major loss. With a traumatic death, the time period may be longer. Over time, the intensity and frequency of painful periods diminish.

People may feel worse a year or more after the death. The numbness that helped to protect them in the early months is gone and the full pain of the loss is very real. Family and friends may have gone back to their own lives, and not be as supportive.

Over the years, holidays and special family events increase the feelings of grief. When a similar traumatic event occurs, people may feel re-traumatized or that they are reliving their own loss. Involvement with lawsuits or the justice system can cause upsurges of grief during the entire course of that involvement. As these things occur and if the coping gets more difficult, it may be time to seek some counseling.

Common Physical Reactions
” Numbness
” Tightness in the throat or chest
” Shortness of breath
” Sensitivity to loud noises
” Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
” Agitation and restlessness may also be experienced which will decrease in time Because an event has occurred that is beyond one’s control, people feel out of control. Regular exercise may help to control these experiences. Putting more structure into a daily routine will help one to feel more in control. It’s often helpful to keep lists, write notes, or keep a schedule.

Common Emotional Reactions
” Shock: The physical and emotional shock may be prolonged. Persistent memories or dreams about the event may occur for months. Talking or writing about it can help to break the cycle of obsessive thoughts.

” Fear and Anxiety: Simple activities, like taking a shower, being in the dark, or opening a closed door, may cause fear or anxiety. This is a normal response, but if the anxiety prevents normal routine for a prolonged period, it’s important to see a physician or therapist.

” Guilt: Guilt over things done, or not done, regrets about the past, and guilt for surviving. Much of the guilt that people feel is emotional and not rational but knowing this does not help to alleviate those feelings. When guilt persists, people are often helped to deal with it in support groups or with a therapist.

” Anger: Anger and rage come from the feelings of helplessness and powerlessness one feels after a traumatic death and can be overwhelming for family members. There are many support and advocacy groups to help deal with the anger brought on in traumatic death.

There are new roles to learn. New problems to solve. New systems, like the media, legal, and/or criminal justice system, are now involved in one’s life. It takes time to adapt. Allow yourself to do that.

Factors Which Compound Grief
” No positive confirmation of the death or no physical body is recovered. Or when the loved one’s body is available, but the family may not be able to view it. This factor makes it difficult to grasp the reality that the death has occurred. It is only when that reality is grasped can people begin to move from the trauma to the full realization of the pain of grief.

” Since the death was not anticipated, legal and financial affairs may be complicated. Loss of income can threaten the family’s security; another loss for the family.

” The role the loved one held in the family is lost. It takes time for the family to reorganize.

How to Help
” In the early days and weeks, offer help aggressively and concretely. Many times, the family may not know what you can do to help. Offer to prepare meals, help with childcare, answer the phone, or help to make calls or arrangements. If the media is involved, it may be helpful to run interference for the family. They can feel besieged by the intrusion.

” After a few months, support is most needed. Allow them time to talk about their grief if they want to, but be prepared to listen. It is not usually helpful for those who are grieving to hear about your losses unless the circumstances are very similar. Ask how you can help. You might offer to go with them to a support group if it’s appropriate.

” As time passes, be mindful of anniversaries, holidays, or the birthday of the person who died. On these difficult days, people want to know that their loved ones are remembered.

” Families may be involved for years in legal proceedings. Offer help and support during critical times in the process. Help them find resources for victim and family support and advocacy.

” Most importantly, accept their grieving for what it is: a process following a loss. Allow them to grieve in their own style.

Barbara J. Paul, Ph.D.
Barbara J. Paul is a licensed psychologist and health educator in Philadelphia, PA. She is nationally certified by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) as both a grief therapist and death educator.

REST: Experiencing God’s Peace in a Restless World

(Adapted from the book Rest: Experiencing God’s Peace in a Restless World by Dr. Siang-Yang Tan)

We are truly living in an age of anxiety. Anxiety has become the leading emotional problem of our day. Common responses to the questions, “How are you doing?” include: “I am really busy.” “I’m exhausted.” “There’s just too much to do.” “I’m tired. I need a vacation.” “I’m burned out.” “There’s too much going on.” “I’m so stressed out, I can’t keep up anymore!”

The buzzwords of our lives today are: Busyness. Stress. Overload. The demands of life have far outgrown the resources we have to meet them, leading to what has been termed, “The Overload Syndrome.” People are exhausted.  People are stressed.  People are overloaded.  We need more time.  We need more space.  We need more reserves.  We need more buffer.

Closely related to overwork and overload is our preoccupation with speed. In our embrace of speed, we are obsessed with efficiency and productivity. We are horrified at the thought of wasting any time. Bill Gates recently wrote a book entitled Business at the Speed of Thought. In trying to beat the clock, we walk faster, drive faster, work faster. But at a great cost. Levels of stress and anxiety are increased exponentially. Unrest is the result. Unrest is feeling fearful, anxious, panicked, scattered, harried, hurried, overwhelmed, exhausted, discontent, driven, stressed. It’s the opposite of what we most deeply long for: rest.

People are seeking rest today with a vengeance! They are doing things such as taking stress management classes, going on retreats, and trying hard to change their lifestyles so they can find some peace and rest again. Ironically, more and more people are stressed out trying to overcome stress. We try too hard to find rest, and the hard work of rest often leads to further unrest and restlessness. We need to have a deeper, more biblical understanding of rest and how to experience or enter into rest – God’s rest, in God’s way.

Rest can be described as a state of peace, contentment, serenity, refreshment, stillness, tranquility, or calm. The qualities of rest include: quietness of heart; a sober awareness of who we are and who God is; an ability to let go (and not try so hard, even at resting); an ability to enjoy leisure, nature, and things that do not involve performance; reflection; trust; an ability to live from our higher or true self -to determine our values and live by them, enjoying the moment, not living in the past or the future; breathing easily and deeply; waiting without impatience; not being impulsive or rash.

What is the difference between rest and leisure or amusement? Rest is found beyond leisure. It is God who instituted and commanded rest – true Sabbath rest – for humankind (see Ex 20:8-11; 34:21). He is also the first “rester” Himself (see Gen 2:2-3; Ex 31:17). This rest was not meant to be a luxury, but rather a necessity for those who want to have growth and maturity. Since we have not understood that rest is a necessity, we have perverted its meaning, substituting for the rest that God first demonstrated things called leisure or amusement.  Leisure and amusement may be enjoyable, but they are to the private world of the individual like cotton candy to the digestive system. They provide momentary lift, but they will not last.  The world and the church need genuinely rested Christians (and families): Those who are regularly refreshed by true Sabbath rest, not just leisure or time off. When godly rest is achieved, you will see just how tough and resilient Christians (and families) can actually be.

Taken from three main words that are used in the Old Testament to describe rest, we can conclude these terms paint us a rich and multifaceted picture. Rest involves something we do, something we experience and something God gives us. We see that we must regularly cease from our work and become still before God to gain a sense of tranquility and to loose the shackles of stress. God provides supernatural security and peace.

Also, we should not think of work versus rest but work and rest. God invented both at virtually the same time; they are meant to complement, not fight against each other. A godly life is a life of rest. A godly life is a life of work. Scripture places rest and work side by side and sees them both as good.

Despite our deep desire to experience true Sabbath rest, many of us, ironically, are afraid of rest. There may be various reasons. First, we may be addicted to the adrenaline rush of busyness. Second, we may be afraid of rest because we are fearful of facing our true state of being: our emptiness, our bad feelings, our painful memories. It is easier and more comfortable to keep busy, to keep going on without stopping to rest. Resting and reflecting may bring us face to face with painful inner feelings and struggles we would rather avoid or keep out of our consciousness. Third, we may be fearful of rest because we tend to define ourselves by what we produce or how we perform. We have a tendency to use external criteria of success to define our self-worth and the worth of our families. Many of us feel we must continue to produce, perform, excel, and keep up. We are afraid to slow down and rest because we may be left behind in our business, careers, and comparisons to others. Fourth, closely connected to the previous reason, many of us may feel that it’s all up to us to “make it” in life, believing that if we slow down or change, things will simply fall apart. Many of us are afraid of rest because we are afraid of losing speed, losing ground, and losing our lifestyles. Finally, we may be afraid of rest because we feel trapped in our ever-increasing cycle of activity and accelerated busyness. We can’t see a way out. The situation may appear so hopeless and helpless that we give up trying to rest at all. In fact, to stop and rest makes us feel more anxious about all the things we are leaving undone. We end up avoiding rest and trying to do even more in the time-starved days of our lives.

We continue to suffer from the disease of “hurry sickness.” As has been written, “hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well.” “Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.” The enemy of our souls knows full well how hurry sickness or unrest can ultimately destroy us. He will do his best to keep us from God’s rest. He entices us to drive ourselves onward, create ever more activity, fill our emptiness with external stimuli to avoid the disquiet in our soul. Consequently, we often clutch at people and things that keep us engaged in the cycle of a hurried and harried life.

There are four aspects of rest that are necessary to understand:

Physical: Many of us suffer today from heart disease as well as other stress-related illnesses, including addictions, panic attacks, exhaustion, insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, and high blood pressure. Such physical suffering often stems from our inability to manage our lives and to learn how to rest.

Physical rest includes time for leisure and sleep, especially taking a Sabbath day off each week and sleeping at least eight hours a night. It also involves good nutrition, regular exercise, and practicing at least one good relaxation technique as part of stress management. We protect our physical rest by refusing to overwork and making sure we have enough of a time buffer.

Emotional: Many of us feel as if we can’t keep up with the demands and stresses of our lives. The results often include depression, anxiety, panic, fear, confusion, and feeling trapped or overwhelmed.

Emotional rest means experiencing peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment, serenity, and refreshment instead of anxiety, fear, panic, tension, discontent, depression, exhaustion, and fatigue. Intellectual or mental rest is part of emotional rest. If our minds are at rest, our emotions can relax. Emotional rest also comes from spiritual rest.

Relational: Many of us experience “restless relationships” or “fractured relationships.” Whether in the home, church, school, workplace, or the larger community of which we are a part, the presence of unresolved conflicts, broken relationships, misunderstanding, contention, bitterness, strife, and especially an unforgiving spirit can cause much unrest and pain.

Relational rest can be found in the context of our caring and loving relationships with other people. Such relationships don’t work without a heart of love and a soul that is experiencing some level of spiritual and emotional peace deep within. Our spiritual, emotional, and physical rest are all deepened when we receive the gifts of loving and caring relationships in a family of people who believe in Jesus Christ.

Spiritual: Many of us find it difficult to trust God, to hear His voice, to sense His presence. God seems far away, and the weight of the world rests on our shoulders. We may have an exaggerated sense of self, leading us t believe it is up to us alone to free ourselves from this burden. We may go through the motions of trusting in God but do not reap the rewards or blessing.

Spiritual rest is by far the most crucial type of rest, although many of us miss it. We need rest from our guilt, doubt, confusion, emptiness, dryness, and despair. We long for the peace of God that transcends all understanding (see Phil 4:7). Such supernatural peace comes when we learn to pray with thanksgiving (Phil 4:6) and to cast all our cares or anxiety upon Him because He cares for us (I Pet 5:7). The writer of the book of Hebrews specifically deals with spiritual rest – God’s rest – in Hebrews 4:1: “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” The promise of entering into or experiencing God’s rest – true spiritual rest in Him – is still true for the people of God. God’s rest is available today to those of us who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive His rest by faith (Heb 4:2-3). We can still enter into His rest experientially now by maintaining an active faith relationship with the One who invented rest in the first place.

F. B. Meyers called the theme in Hebrews 4 the Gospel of Rest:

When we once learn to live by faith, believing that our Father loves us, and will not forget or forsake us, but is pledged to supply all our needs; when we acquire the holy habit of talking to Him about all, and handing all over to Him, at the moment that the tiniest shadow is cast upon the soul; when we accept insult, and annoyance, and interruption, coming to us from whatever quarter as being His permission, and therefore, as part of His dear will for us – then we have learned the secret of the Gospel of Rest.

 

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