“Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the Lord, Who delivers us from sorrow and sin.” – Thaddeus of Vitovnica
In study after study, there is a growing epidemic of anxiety in children, teens, and adults. Psychologists tell us that this rise in anxiety is leading to increased rates of depression.
25% of 13 to 18 year olds struggle with mild to moderate anxiety, wile 5.9% struggle with a severe anxiety disorder, which is much more common in girls than in boys. The median age for onset of anxiety is only 11 years old. From Psychology Today
It’s clearly a problem and is difficult to watch in those that we love, but how do you deal with generalized fear and worry that something bad is about to happen?
While there are many treatments for those that struggle emotionally in this way, may I suggest an untapped resource in our battle to overcome our fears of loss and disappointment?
Recognizing the gifts that we have been given.
Now, for those who struggle with clinical depression or anxiety, hear me out.
Anxiety spends all of it’s time imagining the worst case scenario.
People won’t like me.
I won’t be able to pay my bills.
I’ve messed my life up.
I can’t come back from this.
The best part of my life is over.
No one will love me.
Most of the thoughts produced from anxiety are about loss or the fear of loss, something that all people are familiar with. We’ve all lost something or have feared losing something important to us.
The rise of social media has not helped us to encourage each other away from these fears, instead it has often fed them. Someone has more than you, is aging better than you, has a better job than you, has more friends than you, get’s more likes and shares than you, has better memes than you, and get’s invited to more parties than you. It’s no wonder that kids, who don’t have the maturity to deal with many of these fears grow more depressed with prolonged exposure to some of the most popular social media platforms.
Scripture points us in a different way.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:25-34
Jesus is suggesting 2 strategies for dealing with anxiety.
You are more than your fears. Moreover, your life is more than the things that you are afraid of! So what if you lose your job and you have to take a step back? So what if you won’t be the most successful person in your High School class? So what if “those” people don’t like you? You are precious to God and are a part of His family FOREVER! The things that we worry about are usually inconsequential to the things of God that He has planned for you.
Which leads to a second strategy…
2. Focus on the things that matter most…the kingdom of God. What is most important to Him? What has He given us? What can we be thankful for? Is there anything this world can offer us that is better than a relationship with Him?
Let me suggest this, at this season fo thanksgiving.
Spend copious amounts of time being thankful.
When every worry, doubt or fear comes into your mind, what can you be thankful for?
Joy is often found, not in the avoidance of loss, but in the acknowledgement of what has been gained.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
What can you be thankful for, today?