In the current cultural climate mental and physical health issues run rampant. This morning I read an article in the Washington Post that said the Census Bureau now indicates a third of Americans are showing signs of depression and anxiety.
With our eyes fixed on technology, we are constantly inundated with COVID19 news flashes, reports of pestilence, dust storms, and crude politics. Then, as we step out into the streets there are riots, racism, and the economy to worry about. It doesn’t take long for the headaches to ensue, the stomach to begin to ache, muscles to develop soreness, anxiety to creep in, and for good sleep to become a thing of the past.
Self-medication with too much alcohol, food, and the overuse of OTC/prescription meds leave us feeling good for the moment, but miserable in the morning. These over indulgent coping mechanisms give way to countless medical conditions. So, what can we do spiritually to manage mental and physical health while having to endure this present state of affairs? The Bible says, grace, peace, and thanksgiving are our antidotes.
In Ephesians 1:2, Paul writes, “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”
What is grace? Grace is the spiritual covering that allows us to be seen by God as righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ. So, when we accept the sacrifice of blood Jesus made for our life and receive His spirit within us, by His grace, we are saved. Through this gift of grace, we can experience forgiveness and also grant it to others. What does this do for our health? According to an article put out by John Hopkins Medicine, studies show that granting forgiveness lowers the risks of heart attacks; improves cholesterol levels, helps with sleep, reduces pain, lowers blood pressure, lowers levels of anxiety, relieves depression and releases tension related to stress.
What about peace? What does God’s peace do for us in these turbulent times? The peace of Christ represents life and light in dark places. Upon acceptance of our Savior, we have been granted His peace. We need only to put it on! When we do, His peace penetrates us and envelops our being, making us invincible to anything harmful going on around us. No matter what the state of the world is, with God’s peace, we are whole. So, anxiety can be stopped in its tracks with the peace of God applied to the brain.
Without peace, what are we left with? FEAR! How does fear effect our health? Look around!! You see the anxiety everyday with COVID19. But, I’ll give you a different, personal example. Early in my marriage, my husband worked the swing shift on a loading dock. and I was scared to stay alone. My mind told me lies. The thought of someone breaking into my home consumed my mind like ravage wolves feasting on a rabbit. My stomach was torn up, in knots, constipation took a toll, and the insomnia would not go away. I could not eat and I got very thin. I was unfocused and disorganized in my life. It got so bad that I was actually going to work with him and sitting in his car until he got off. Needless to say, this was tough on my marriage. How did I get this way? Well, I’d say it was the same way that so many have become more and more fearful about COVID19. I listened to well meaning people, instead of the Lord in my life and trusted them over my Savior.
Unfortunately, I grew up with someone very close to me who instilled a sense of fear into my mind through daily words and actions. Did they do it to harm me intentionally? Absolutely not! They believed everything they were telling me, but it was NOT the TRUTH. TRUST TRUTH, NOT LIES. Repeated messages shape who we are. Without knowing it, you embrace the words and become! This is why, today’s social media and the news can be so damaging. Be wise. Seek truth in God’s Word for your answers.
So, what happened? Out of desperation my husband did the unthinkable! He left me one morning, by myself, with myself. At the time, I didn’t think I would live to see the light of day. At 3:15 a.m. I was on my knees before God crying out for Him to save me from the invisible enemy that was actually killing my mind. I opened up His Word to Psalm 91 where I found these words and read, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord. He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him for he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the most high your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go”.
After crying out for His help, receiving scripture, reading it, and accepting it as truth in my mind, , in an instant, the fear was gone and was replaced with PEACE, sweet PEACE. I went back to bed and slept well for the first time in a long time. My stomach eased, I began to gain weight and my anxiety diminished greatly. Was I healed instantly?NO! It was a process, but it happened and I am thankful because My husband ended up being an international business man and I had to stay at home alone for weeks at a time in foreign countries with little children depending on me. Thank God for His delivery!
Finally, let’s discuss the antidote of thankfulness. In an article from CNN Health the writer conveys that research has shown grateful people tend to be both healthy and happy because they exhibit lower levels of stress and depression, and cope better with adversity. As well, they apparently get better sleep. We could all use more of that!! Right? As we all know, lack of sleep brings a wealth of health issues. The Cleveland Clinic lists some of the serious problems associated with sleep deprivation in an article written on June 16th. They are: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity, depression, lower immunity, and lower sex drive.
But, there’s a worldwide pandemic going on and the US is full of unrest right now. What is there to be thankful for in that? The Bible teaches us that even in hardships we should be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We do this because, as Christians, we have the promise of Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
A purpose in a pandemic and political unrest? Don’t we want all this to go away? My husband said something very wise today. He said, “We always pray first that the lord will change the circumstances, but if He chooses not to change them, we pray that he changes us and/or we pray he changes the way that we perceive our circumstances and we continue on. Perception!!! That’s the key to having a thankful heart in all of this. When we put on the eyes of Christ, instead of looking at this through our own darkened eyes, we can see the current situation as an opportunity for many things. For me, it has been to get closer to my family, to share my faith, and hugs with those who need human touch and who are fear ridden. Finally, I can say that the pandemic has been an opportunity to get to know my savior in a much deeper way, as I have to put all my confidence in Him since this is completely out of my control. For these things, I can truly say, thank you God over and over and over again.
I pray the antidotes of Grace, Peace and Thanksgiving will help you as you venture today into this crazy thing we call life in 2020. Apply them liberally to mind, body, and soul and watch God work to improve your mental and physical health!