Dealing with Anxiety and Depression

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I want to invite you to turn to Psalm 77 Isaiah 53 that’s where we’re going to go. I’m going to give us a little backdrop to all of that. I’m so glad you’re here with us. The worst of this morning is the back end for I know, spring break holiday for many of our families and so, but I’m happy for those that are, that are here to worship because today is an important day in Christian history. This is, this is Palm Sunday. This is the week Jesus came into Jerusalem. His disciples would have gone into Jerusalem seeing the Hillel, the song of Psalms that they would sing during this time of Passover, the time when Jesus would’ve rolled right on the donkey into Jerusalem, which is a beautiful picture of everything Jesus wants to do for us and in this world. Because the, if you study historically about the donkey that Christ wrote on, you look at it in old Testament pictures that the donkey was often used as a symbol for those in authority figures and Kings during a time of peace and Jesus, his message is one all about peace, that when he created us, he created us for peace in that relationship with him for eternity.

We lost that in sin. The Bible tells us all of creation groans and when Jesus comes to Jerusalem to give himself as a sacrifice, he’s riding on the back of that donkey was as a demonstration of one a King and two one who comes to establish peace for us. It’s a beautiful picture of all that Jesus wants to do. One over the next couple of weeks, I hope to just paint for us as we talk about this new series that were empty together called hope in sorrow. Now I want you to know I’m not going to develop the full thought of the riding on the donkey this morning. Today, I want to deal with the idea of, of Jesus as being a man of sorrows and how that relates to us and how the Lord ministers to us in that. And so today we’re going to talk about overwhelming feelings, feelings of stress, depression, anxiety, the way God meets us in that, how we should approach those experiences in our lives.

And I know usually when I say the word feelings, you lose 50% of people or maybe one gender, particularly guys, I’m talking to you this morning. We talk about feelings. I want to just be able to call that garbage out this morning for just a moment and say, we went on a men’s retreat and someone pointed this out to me is actually Jared Clark pointed this out, but we went on the men’s retreat and we broke up into small groups and sat around tables and talked in groups of six or seven and ladies, just so you know how this work, and we did a message, then we’d get in these groups and we answer these questions. And then after that time we’d tell guys, we got 30 minutes, guys. We don’t like doing that and do it in 30 minutes. You’re free. And then we’d have a open space for about two hours and then it’d be like lunch or something like that.

Well 30 minutes would pass and no one would move. And before, you know, two hours would pass and the guys are still sitting there in conversation with one another. So much so that you felt bad telling them to be quiet so we could price it, we could eat. It was like you couldn’t get them to stop talking once they started talking. So, so when we talk about feelings and the idea of being overwhelmed, stressed, depression, sometimes, you know, guys, when I not have the capacity compared to maybe your, your wife or ladies and being able to explain those, uh, feelings that were going through or what we have in life, but we come to find out men’s retreat, give you an opportunity to talk about it, get you to open up a little bit. And it’s, it’s, it’s enjoyable what happens and how God just works in that.

And so I think we discuss a topic like this. It’s important for all of us because all of us, uh, have these experiences in life and the Lord wants to minister to us in them. And so when you talk about feelings of overwhelming feeling, overwhelmed, stress, depression, anxiety, you know, the tendency is it’s going to get messy. And there’s not always a clean way to talk about it, but it’s been said depression, anxiety or like poison that creeps into our souls that causes us to fight battles in our minds and feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, fear, despair and anger. You know, when you approach it and scripturally speaking, what you find is that God meets us at the peak of our stress and at the bottom of our depression.

And we talk about subjects like this. I don’t want to pretend to say that we can fix everyone’s depression and anxiety they they face today because those experiences could be something that we learn or need to learn how to deal with throughout all of our lives. For some of us, we may struggle in those areas in ways that other people do not. But there is. There is a way to, I think, approach it in a healthy experience as we go through those things and at the same time, I don’t think scripture leaves us feeling like victims to those experiences when it comes to those struggles in our lives. The truth is without hope, all of us are lost, but realistic hope is the door out of despair. It’s been said a person could live 40 days without food. You can go five days without water, but only moments without hope, and we talk about subjects like depression and anxiety and stress. Those are not destinations for us. They’re not labels that we need to wear in positions that people need to look at us in, but rather the experience in which we go through and an invitation for us to find a way to sustain beyond those moments with God.

When you wrestle with these ideas and these overwhelming feelings, there are four ways in which we might struggle with them. We we could experience them physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. If physically we could go through those things because in our lives, the Bible needs or the body needs, I should say a certain amount of of rest in order to produce serotonin, that that doesn’t bring us to a place of deep depression, exercise, eating right. All of those plan effect on your body’s chemistry. And so physically it’s something that we should not neglect emotionally. We can experience those things mentally. We could have mind games being played with us and I want to just maybe put out a, just a, a blanket thought when it comes to mentally and chemically what makes us up as individuals in some, in some forms of Christianity, there’s the stigma that medication when it comes to that area is not a good thing.

And I just want to call, um, call that to the floor and just say, you know, people, we as people, we don’t have problems and consuming medication if it affects other areas of our lives, whether it be heart or, or pancreas or you know, whatever you might take it for. And so the brain is another organ in the body. And so some of the times those things become important for us in medicine. Medication can be an important help in healing towards those things and it’s, it can also be a spiritual experience that we have as well. And in fact, I would say when we spiritually understand the way God wants us to approach these areas in our lives, it helps us to attack the, the physical part of our lives or the emotional or the mental part of our lives that could be struggling in particular areas. But any four of those areas, when one of those experiences, depression, anxiety, or stress, it affects all other areas of us as human beings. And the truth is everyone’s struggles.

And some might argue that if you’re a follower of Christ, God gives you so much hope. And so there’s no reason for a Christian to go through depression. It is true that we all have hope in God as followers of Christ. But when you study people within the context of scripture, you see lots of godly individuals. The Lord is using an ungodly individuals. The Lord is using that struggle with different areas of our lives. In fact, the Bible says that we, as as followers of Jesus, we grieve. We don’t. Now, we don’t grieve without hope. We have an ultimate hope in Christ, but we still grieve. When you look at leaders that God has chosen for certain, for certain points in, in what he desires to work in history, listen to this Moses and numbers 1114 and 15 I cannot carry all of these people by myself. The burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you’re going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me. Jonah chapter four in verse three now Lord, take away my life for it is better for me to die than to live in Jeremiah. Jeremiah the prophet wrote this and chapter 20 verse 18 why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow to end my days in shame, job and job. Chapter 17 verse one my spirit is broken. My days are cut short and the grave awaits me.

Well, some of the instrumental people in scripture experiencing some of the the deepest heartache that the soul can go through and it doesn’t just end in biblical pictures. If you study historically the church and and people that have done tremendous things for the Lord, one like Martin Luther who led the reformation in the 15 hundreds Martin Luther was an individual that people said, you could often hear him just can, talking to himself in a room off all alone, just fighting and arguing out loud with no one else in the room as if this spiritual battle was taking place.

Charles Spurgeon, many considered one of the top five for what he was God did through him in ministries, referred to as the Prince of preachers and he, he struggled deeply all of his life with depression. In fact, Charles Spurgeon led one of the largest churches to exist in the history of this. At that point in time in his life, thousands of people attended the church that he, he pastor and he talked very openly about the depression struggles that he had and I think that was, that was one of the reasons that the church, the church grew in numbers is because they saw the transparency of a man who struggled but loved Jesus and one of his letters, this is what he recorded in his journal about the struggle that he had had found himself experiencing it and relating it to other people. He said this, the mind can descend far lower than the body for in it. There are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in 10,000 ways and die over and over again each hour. I think there are a few ways that the body will give out, but the soul can grieve deeply.

I don’t read all of these for us. I should say all of it with a smile. Everything I say this morning should go with a smile, but I don’t read all of these things for us to, to get to a place of depression here this morning. But what I want to do is just just acknowledge that it’s okay to struggle and sometimes it’s comforting to know that even God’s most faithful individuals, the Lord, the ones that God used tremendously for, for ministry as far as the accomplishment might go, they struggled.

You’re in good company. In fact, I’ve heard it said, a passionate soul experiences the highs and lows of life, and some of the most compassionate souls in this world are ones that have suffered deeply. You can use that later, right? I’m just hurting so bad right now because I’m such a passionate soul right now. Sometimes we might call that passionate soul. You might call it passionate, but some people might see it as being a jerk. I’m passionate or you’re a punk, but you know what I mean? Right. Someone that cares deeply experiences the highs and they really experience the lows. Everyone’s struggles.

You know, when we find ourselves in those struggles, one of the, one of the things that probably rings true with you this morning and it’s just some of the points I want to acknowledge as this, uh, this first one here, that w we all want to be understood. In fact, that’s where Psalm 77 is going to play a part for us in just a moment. But we all want to be understood. You think about music. I love music. Um, my, my, my wife and I are going to go on a road trip here for just a couple of days this coming week cause this is my kid’s spring break starting on Monday. And she knows and as I get in the car, like if I had, if I, if I had a hairbrush, I would hold it as a microphone the entire time down the road. All of my great dance moves come out and she just sits there and rolls her eyes at me.

Uh, I love music every time we get in the car. I can tell you soon as we start, the first thing I’ll always play. She knows it. It’s journey faithfully, right? You know, you know if you don’t know what that song is, turn around when you go home for that, you’d be like, thank you pastor for bringing that up. That is a great song. But love music. And one of the things I think that that people are attracted to music about is because it has this way of attaching words to the emotions that you experienced in life. It just resonates with the soul. And the Psalms are a lot like that. They use these metaphorical expressions that really draw home how the heart feels when you, when you study the Psalms. I think one of the things that that really helps us in the metaphorical language of Psalms and just the metaphorical language of songs is I read about this this week.

It’s an interesting thought that the part of your brain that goes through emotional experiences is not directly attached to the part of your brain that uses language. And so sometimes when we have those experiences that we don’t always find the right words to describe how we feel. And so we as people want to be understood. And so in those moments of struggle in our lives, we might find it difficult to relate or convey what we’re experiencing in our lives. And so music has that artistic ability to draw the heart towards those emotional experiences. That’s what makes the book of Psalms so compelling for us is because these, these artistic thoughts take these metal, this metaphorical language, and it connects words to the way that we feel. And so when you read the Psalms, see this throughout scripture, not just Psalms, but in the poetic language of the Bible.

Listen to just some of these. And in Psalm 88 verse three my soul is full of trouble. And Psalm 69 in verse 15 let not the floods sweep over me or the deep swallow me up. And Joe 1325 he referred to himself as a frail leaf. And Proverbs 1814 it talks about a wounded spirit. In Psalm 42 verse six the fainting soul. The Bible also uses the terms the brews read or we’re going to see in a minute, Jesus the man of sorrows. Charles Spurgeon, when he would use words to express the way that he felt, felt he, he referred to depression in these terms. He said it was like traversing a howling desert or enduring winter or entering a foggy day, or we’re caught in a hurricane. The way the Bible paints this picture for us helps our soul to connect to the experiences that other individuals have gone through, but also to to recognize that we are understood in Psalm 77 this is just a, a broad picture for you in this context of scripture, but in Psalm 77 the the writer of the Psalm starts off just expressing the way that his soul feels in the midst of his circumstance. He said, in the day of my trouble, I sought the Lord and the night my hand was stretched out with without weariness. My soul refused to be comforted and when I remember God, then I am disturbed. When I sigh that my spirit grows faint.

You can just see in the expression here, the candidates nice. Well, this individual’s experience, desire first to be understood by articulating the way that he feels in the metaphorical expression. You know, I don’t have the time this morning to go through all of the song, but I just want to point out to you where the Psalmist ends up as it gets to the end of the song, he’s, he’s describing a God the way that he feels in the beginning of the Psalm. It’s a beautiful place to be because God cares about where you are to be understood, to be able to open up how you feel and communicate. I love in Romans chapter eight it tells us that the spirit of God makes groanings for us that we can’t even utter. And I think what it’s saying in that passage of scripture is that there comes a time in your life where your soul grieves so deeply that you came and think of words to express it. And what it’s saying to us in that verse is that God sees it.

I know noticed just a set before his presence, experience, depth of your soul. And then he ends up in at the end of the Psalm describing an event. Cause when he describes this event, he says in this story, this isn’t his story. This isn’t what he goes through, but he knows the nature of God in the midst of a circumstance. And so this is what he says at the end of the Psalm in Psalm 77 verse 19 your way was in the sea and your paths in the mighty water and your footprints may not be known you. Your footprints may not be known. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. And so he’s what he’s saying is this, he’s saying, God, this is where I’m at experientially in my life right now. This is the way that I feel, but this is the hope that I’m holding in right now. You’re the same God that led the children of Israel through the red sea, that when they felt like there was no escape, when they saw no hope, when they couldn’t see clearly the path they were to take, God you knew.

And the same guy that cares about them is the same God that cares about me. And so for the Psalmist, this, this became a place to rest. Not, not, not just that he was understood, but to know that someone cares, somebody cares. You know, if you know someone in your life that might go through, through struggles in their, their own world and you find yourself as being the person on the other side of that. One of the, one of the helpful things we’re gonna talk about here in just a few minutes is the way you approach that moment is as sometimes guys, especially I think we try to be fixers.

But the truth is when a person goes through difficult experiences, you can always fix them. And sometimes we don’t like to deal with it. And so we sort of undermine it. Oh, you shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t be upset. You’ve got plenty of reasons to be happy, right? And I would tell you both of those, if not approach with some wisdom, aren’t, are not helpful. But I think one of the most helpful things to offer is just to be an ear that listens. The people can be understood. No, that someone cares. Isaiah 53 is as a beautiful chapter of scripture we’re going to look at now, but Isaiah 53 this is approaching us with the salvation of Christ being the lamb of God who’s giving his life, which, which today, Palm Sunday historically is the day that Jesus goes into Jerusalem when the lamb is to be presented for Israel. That’s sacrifice. Isaiah is, is that story where it’s sharing with us how Jesus is going to become that sacrifice. But in the same token, while Jesus is demonstrating that to us, he’s also getting us to, to hear the story of how he cares for us.

And so Isaiah 53 in verse three when it talks about Jesus, this is what it says, knowing he’s going to be a sacrifice. It says he was despise and for seeking of. And and look about his, his, his, his journey as far as the depth of the soul. Emotionally, it says a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, unlike one from whom men hid their face. He was despised and we did not esteem him.

Jesus has called the this the man of sorrows in this passage of scripture, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief and this idea of sorrows in Hebrew, it means it means pain, sickness, soul being wrecked. And in fact, when you think about this Psalm and you see how these verses play out in the new Testament when Jesus finally columns Matthew 26 I’m familiar with the story. This is Jesus had spent time with his disciples in the upper room talking about his death and I desired for them to love one another. How he took communion with them because he was reminding them how he’s going to give his body as, as a sacrifice for us as blood would be shed. And then he takes his disciples up into the garden and he wants them to pray with him. You think about what Jesus is going through in, in this story. He, he wants his disciples to be present, to just pray, to have their presence and encouragement.

You know how the disciples acted in the garden that keeps telling us over and over. They kept falling asleep and kept falling asleep and Jesus comes back. He’s like, what in the world? This is the, this is the depth of what I’m getting ready to endure here and I need you to care. You read the story of job who endured incredible suffering like the first few chapters of job. It seems pretty nice, right? Job’s gathered around by his friends and it tells us they really just sit around and weep with Joe, but it wasn’t until his friends started opening their mouth to try to fix things that that you’re like, Oh, these are bad friends and Jesus in the midst of his struggle that he was going through, this is what desired with his disciples and then it tells us in Matthew chapter 26 verse 38 sort of paint a broader picture of Isaiah 53 it says this. Then he said to them, my soul is deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and keep watch with me.

It’s been sad from this Isaiah passage and this Matthew passes that Jesus is the chief of mourners. This idea of deeply grieved in, in, in the Greek text that means grieved all around exceedingly sorrowful or intensely sad, and you think about what Jesus endured for us. So many passages of scripture communicate what he goes through experientially, what he puts upon himself for us spiritually and how he suffers physically. And Isaiah 52 14 it declares there were many who were appalled at him. His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man in his form, Mar beyond human likeness, talking about the beating Jesus endured all of the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26 and verse 56 God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us. Second Corinthians five 21 Jesus had the way that the sin of the entire world on him. First John two two that was the sin that caused him to cry out. My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27 verse 46 you consider what Jesus went through.

You’re the ultimate place of his sacrifice was so that we would have a future hope in him, but I don’t think it’s just a future hope that we have in him. I think it’s a current hope that we receive in him. God cares. The only reason he, he goes through the suffering as a demonstration of his care for his people, and then he relates to our own suffering. It’s been said, no matter how far you fall is grace goes deeper still. And first Peter five Peter really tries to get the church to understand the expression of what Jesus has done for us holistically, and he communicates to a church that’s under persecution and he says, one of the, one of the most powerful verses I think in first Peter, in living your life for Christ in the midst of adversity, he says, cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. This means in Christ, there is always hope. We don’t have to despair because God cares. Not only do we desire to know that someone cares, we need a real estate code. Proverbs chapter 12 it says, anxiety in a man’s heart, waist down. But a good word makes him glad. Can I tell you this morning? And some of the things that we struggle with in life, it traps us, holds us back, locks us in our past. And when you think about the, the nature of Satan, the revelation 12 describes him as, as the accuser of the brother, the accuser of God’s people. What that means is that he likes to immobilize us, to trap us, to hold us in the past by accusing us of things that have been a part of who we were in the past, what we’ve done.

You know, when it comes to the Lord, he’s not a God of the past cause he’s a God of forgiveness. And so when it comes to the Lord is he’s a God of hope and he’s a God of the future. He’s the God of who you are, becoming not who you were. He’s a God that gives us opportunity to bring the struggles of our life before him because he desires to work in him because he cares about you. And so in that we find realistic hope and will use find when you, when you study scripture is that the identity of God and the promises found in the Bible that are become become important to us because that points us to a future. It points us to a God in the present and those promises fuel hope. In fact, in Isaiah 53 after it described Jesus the way that we saw in in in verse in verse five it says this, but he was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities, which is our sin. The chastening for our wellbeing fell upon him and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53 is the passage of scripture talking about the sacrifice of Jesus and the hope that we have to him to come because of what he has done for us on the cross, right?

It’s pointing definitely to a future hope, but at the same time, this passage of scripture also opens to us a current hope in Christ because the same God who promises a future in him is the same God who brings us peace with him. Right now, and so as much as it’s talking about healing for, for this world that is under a groaning in all of creation, it’s also talking for us a healing in the Lord, right? I’m not saying pray and all of your anxiety will go away and you’ll have no depression or struggles anymore. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, the Bible gives us promises to access the glory of that God, right?

No, and so it’s not just this future anticipation. It’s this current appreciation of the presence of God in their lives, which is why when when Paul struggled in his own life with the Lord and living out for him and the experiences that he went through, he says in second Corinthians chapter 12 verse nine my grace, God says to him, my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Paul goes on to say, I would rather have my weakness, so I learned to rest in the power of Christ and trust in my own self.

Philippians chapter three and four are just an incredible passage of scripture. I’m going to tell you if in your life that anxiety, depression, and stress becomes something that you deal with on a regular basis, I would memorize Philippians chapter three and four. In fact, if you pick up a connection group sheet at the bottom this week for the connection groups, they’re in the bulletins on the outside. At the bottom, there are seven points that are listed for you from Philippians chapter three and four that deal with how to think through anxiety and depression. It was written by a Christian counselor named Steve Levitt, who wrote a book called walking on water when you feel like you’re sinking because he was the one that endured a tremendous amount of anxiety in his life. It was coauthored with a man by the name of Tommy Nelson who experienced a lot of depression as a pastor. Philippians three and four were written by Paul from prison. Chapter four verse 13 he says this, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, a man from prison, finding the strength of God in his presence because of the healing of God that takes place to the sacrifice that he had given for us. We need realistic hope. I think that’s what scripture provides for us as people to rest in the promises of God because the presence of God has been made known. People in this world.

You think about just what has been expressed this morning. Want to close with an illustration, but let me just remind you, that’s people can struggle with feeling overwhelmed. In fact, most of God’s people in scripture, when you read, I read it, I have God’s word, can help us describe our feelings in this metaphorical language that attaches our hearts struggle before God. Well, at the same time, God relates to us, Jesus being the chief mourner and while he relates to us, he also gives us promises both in the future to come and the today at hand. In fact, when you read about Charles Spurgeon and the struggles that he had and life, the place of solace for him became the word of God. I think one of the reasons Charles Spurgeon struggled so bad was because early on in ministry at 22 years old, the church that he pastored was in the thousands and in the matter of weeks in his wife moved to a new home, which is stressful. And she had twins, which is stressful. And one Sunday in that church, in the middle of their move in the middle of having twins, I’m sure they had like three hours of sleep. Someone intending the church thought it would be funny to stand up and yell fire.

Okay. And a stampede took place for all the people who are trying to run out of the exit. Dozens of people are injured and half a dozen are killed. And two weeks later he went back behind the pulpit to preach a message. Knowing that in that building, so many had lost their lives and been injured and for the rest of his life he struggled with depression. In fact, he was, his church was considered so large by him portion to the other churches in London where he was from that, that talking about what happened to that church every week became the prominent article in the newspaper, constant criticism, constant criticism. It just weighed him down and so when life got difficult for him, he found himself in solace and scripture leaning on the promises of God. So much so that he wrote them down and would put them on his walls just so he wouldn’t forget of his identity in the Lord. At one particular point, his wife even wrote Matthew chapter five in verse 11 bluster you when people insult you and persecute falsely, say all kinds of evil against you because of me, rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven is great for him. The same way they persecuted the prophets who were, that’s word for us becomes a place of comfort to know that God understands.

I think you consider the struggles for us in these places in life. One of the, one of the best things for us to do is have opportunity just to be able to share the thing that made Charles Spurgeon so effective in ministry. Wasn’t that administered from a strength administered from his weakness, the thing that Paul said about his own struggles in life. Second Corinthians 12 verse nine I want to boast in my weakness. The power of God may be made. No, Jesus meets us there. Jesus uses us there. The opportunity to be open in that knowing that God is a few as a God of a future and a hope, it’s a glorious place for us to rest.