Pastor Craig shared the eighth mental health strategy in our year-long series. Below is the recap he shared on his blog. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to get the link to watch the full sermon.
When Luke says first that “Jesus grew in wisdom,” that is our indication that a healthy mind is at the foundation for every other aspect of health (Luke 2:52). We don’t see Jesus anxious or worried, we don’t see Him confused in His thinking, or even indecisive of what to say or do. So by studying the life of Jesus—and the Scriptures on which He relied—we, too, can improve our mental health.
This may sound unbelievable when you first read this, but I believe that at their foundation, anxiety and assurance are remarkably similar. The similarity is that they both have faith.
The dictionary defines faith as a strong or unshakeable belief in something. The biblical definition of faith is remarkably similar: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
Using those definitions of faith, let me point out the similarity and the difference between the anxious mind and the assured mind:
- Anxiety is faith or expectation that something bad is going to happen.
- Assurance is faith or expectation that something good is going to happen.
But the biggest difference of all is seen in the mental health of the one worried and anxious about the bad things that are coming versus the one who is confidently assured of the good things that are coming.
If we are going to be mentally healthy people, we need to shift our faith from anxiety to assurance every single time we feel the worry building in our hearts. This isn’t just changing our mindset but knowing what we believe and why we believe it.
Assurance and anxiety both believe in the unseen. The assured person believes in God’s promises to provide all that we need, while the anxious person doubts their own abilities and resources will be able to sustain them.
As a result, the assured person has an abundance mindset, while the anxious person has a scarcity mindset.
These feelings can be traced back to our faith about the origins of the universe. The assured person believes that God transcends this universe—that He existed before time began and spoke all created things into existence (Hebrews 11:3). But the anxious person is still trying to find answers in constantly-changing theories about the universe’s beginning.
Since the anxious person thinks the universe’s beginning was an accident, they can easily wonder if their own life is an accident. But the assured person believes they have been uniquely and purposefully created by God to have eternal purpose (Psalm 139:13, 16; Jeremiah 1:5).
Finally, the person who sees the universe and their own life as accidental becomes quite anxious and uneasy when they think about death, and what may or may not come on the other side. But the one who trusts God as their Creator is confident that God is their eternal reward (Hebrews 11:6).
Hebrews 11 is filled with the accounts of assured people who shifted their faith away from anxiety—believing something bad was going to happen—to the assurance that God was bringing about something incredibly good! Hebrews 12 then invites Christians today to remember that cloud of witnesses and keep our eyes on Jesus, who is described as the Author and Perfecter of our faith, so that we don’t lose hope (Hebrews 12:1-3).
I’ve previously shared seven strategies for a Christian to maintain a strong mental health. Our eighth strategy is a constant shifting of our faith away from anxiety to assurance. Every single time an anxious thought tempts us to believe something bad is coming, we need to make a shift toward the assurance of God’s goodness.
Really quickly, here is how we can use the first seven strategies to help us make that shift:
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you make a new path.
- Notice your fearful or anxious words and pull them out by the root.
- Confront the thought patterns that are causing fear or anxiety.
- Talk back to those fearful thoughts with the truth from God’s Word.
- Check the inputs that may be causing fear (poor diet, not taking time for solitude, anxious friends, etc.).
- Focus on today—I like the words of the song “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow!”
- Don’t look to escape, but take time to de-escalate.
If you’ve missed any of the messages in this series on mental health, you can find all of them by clicking here.