Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up. NRSV
Anxious fear bring depression, but a life-giving word of encouragement can do wonders to restore joy to the heart. TPT
By Pastor Vivian
Is there anyone who has not had an anxious thought? Especially this year, 2020. The year of COVID, the year of protests, the year of wild fires and murder hornets. The year of a dust cloud coming to the US, from the Sahara Desert, which happens every year (mostly); but since it’s 2020 I had a vision of the sand storm created by the mummy in the first Mummy movie with Brandon Frasier. You know, a huge sand mouth that was swallowing everything. WHEW! And we haven’t gotten to the election yet.
Globally, more than 322 million people suffer from depression, and 264 million suffer from anxiety disorders. A lot of people live with both conditions. A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that anxiety and depression cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity yearly.
At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Trans and gay youth, who have been told that they are not loved by God, not loved by their parents, not wanted around and in general an abomination, are among those who commit suicide. They are kicked out of the home they knew and forced to fend for themselves. They feel they have no reason to live. Death is the only way to end the pain.
But gay and trans youth aren’t the only teens committing suicide. Teenage years are fraught with angst and insecurity. Bullying is at an all-time high and appears to be relentless and mean spirited. 25% of high school students consider suicide each year. That number is way too high.
Journalist Eric Sevareid (1912-1992) said, “The biggest business in America is not steel, automotive, or television. It is the manufacture, refinement, and distribution of anxiety!” Every time I cough, the first thing that comes to mind is COVID. We have protocols in place, we have a sanitation station by the front door. I’m very selective (and Mick more so) where I go. So, I should feel relatively secure; and for the most part I do. Until I cough.
Sarah Fader, a 37-year-old social media consultant in Brooklyn who has generalized anxiety disorder, texted a friend in Oregon about an impending visit in 2017, and when a quick response failed to materialize, she posted on Twitter to her 16,000-plus followers. "I don't hear from my friend for a day—my thought, they don't want to be my friend anymore," she wrote, appending the hashtag #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike.
Thousands of people were soon offering up their own examples under the hashtag; some were retweeted more than 1,000 times. You might say Ms. Fader struck a nerve. "If you're a human being living in 2017 and you're not anxious, there's something wrong with you."
Is this true of us? Are we not sleeping at night, tossing and turning with thoughts of the “what ifs” running through our minds? Are we worried that nobody cares about us? We expect a quick response and when it doesn’t happen we think our friends are done with us? Is this what God intended for us?
The passage of Scripture that keeps running through my mind is Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
The advice we get from Paul in this passage encourages action. Pray with gratitude. This may not mean that your prayer is answered exactly the way you want it. And this verse doesn’t say it will be. It says that God’s peace will guard your heart and mind…which is nothing to sneeze at.
And I’ll add to that…say something encouraging to someone. A good word cheers the heart!
God, help us to worry less and encourage others more.
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