Mike Novotny - Jesus is Your Strength
I got a really vulnerable and honest question from someone from our church. She wrote this: "I've been diagnosed with clinical anxiety and depression. My doctor says it's brain chemistry, yet I know the Bible says worry and despair are sins. I know that God loves me and forgives me and I trust in him, yet these horrible feelings still overwhelm me and now I feel guilty and anxious about feeling guilty and anxious. How can I escape from this vicious cycle"?
As a pastor, I know so many people in our church who struggle with anxiety and depression. And they know enough verses in the Bible to realize that God doesn't want us to worry, He wants us to trust in him and lean not on our own understanding. Philippians chapter 4 says, "Don't be anxious about anything". And 1 Peter 5 says, "Cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you". But there's a problem, actually. The devil knows how to make us think about the wrong passage at the wrong time. Did you know that? The devil is okay if you remember a Bible passage, as long as it's not the right one.
Here's what I mean. There's some passages in the Bible that tell us what we should do, what we call the law of God. Don't be anxious. Don't worry. And there's a whole other group of passages that we call the gospel, the promises of what God has done for us. He loves you. He forgives you, even after all your sins and worry and anxiety. What happens after we realize that we are sinners, is that the devil wants us to think, "Well, what can we do to fix it"? Don't be anxious. I feel bad about being anxious. Well, don't be anxious. I feel even worse about being anxious. Well, don't be anxious!
Until we are just crushed and we think that we're such a failure, that God must be mad at us. The truth is that once you realize that we've sinned, it's time to stop thinking about these passages and to think about these passages. The author of the book of Hebrews says this: I would say to this woman, and all of you who are struggling with anxiety and depression, you probably know that you've sinned. That you don't trust God enough.
So to fix your thoughts on Jesus. Look at the cross and see the Jesus who loves you, even though that you worry. Worship the one who adores you, despite your anxiety. Think about the gospel. Actually, when I responded to this woman, I, I said, "What if on your phone you kept a little file of gospel passages? God loves me. He loves the world. He forgives my sins". And when you feel that anxiety, instead of looking at yourself, where you'll always see weakness, you look to Jesus and find all the strength that you need. How do you stop the vicious cycle of guilt? You turn to the God of amazing grace.
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