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Saturday, October 09, 2010

How To Deal With Anxiety

WILMINGTON, OH - DECEMBER 16:  Nicky Lily-Warr...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeIn my job as an occupational therapist,  I come into close contact with people who suffer from anxiety. It is my duty to help them cope with their anxiety in a positive way. One of these ways may be encouraging them to be consistent in taking their medications and helping them develop other coping skills. These combined methods are usually successful and the person leaves the hospital a week or so later looking and feeling much better. However, they often return with the same problem.

What causes anxiety? The scientific explanation is that stressful or frightening situations can evoke a fight/flight response designed to protect you from harm. For example, if you are strolling through your neighborhood and a ferocious dog comes bounding out at you, your heart begins to pound, your palms become sweaty, your pupils dilate, you feel breathless etc. All these prepare you for fight or flight.

But what if you are anxious or simply worried over family matters, finances, health or other conditions. You may not experience the strong symptoms listed above, but you constantly have this nagging feeling at the back of your mind that maybe you can never get out of this situation. Depression, a close relative of anxiety, may also show up and if you are not careful, you may find yourself having suicidal thoughts. How do you cope with this? The illustrious prophet, Elijah suffered his own uncharacteristic bout with anxiety.

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life (fight/flight response). When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die (suicidal). "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors" (1 Kings 19: 1 - 4).

Elijah is not the only person mentioned in the Bible who suffered this kind of emotional upheaval. Jeremiah (45:3), David (Psalm 55:6) and Job (30: 27) all expressed similar feelings. Which begs the question, Can a Christian become depressed or anxious? The answer is 'yes.' I find myself getting anxious from time to time, even though I know it's not God's will for me to be that way. Paul said, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4: 6). And it goes on to say, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (v 7).

This may be easier said than done. I present my requests, but still I remain anxious. Well, this morning I determined that I am going to trust God fully. I am going to believe that when I ask God for something in faith and according to His will, He is going to answer me. It may not always be the answer I expect, but it's always the best answer because He knows what is best for me. I am not going to give in to worry and anxiety any more because the Bible says, "... anything that does not come from faith is sin" (Romans 14 : 23).  I don't want to be guilty of sin because of a lack of faith.

Are you worried or anxious? Trust God! Praise Him! Get in the Word and see what it has to say about faith and fear. See how you too can have "the peace that passes all understanding", the peace that allows you to enjoy your life the way God intends you to.
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