“Come unto to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”- Matthew 11:28
I truly believe that depression is the result of internalized fear. Fear can take many forms such as anxiety, worry, guilt, regret, jealousy, and even anger. Usually we fear a loss or unwanted situation. For example, fear of losing a loved one, wages, health, or even face can cause great anxiety. These situations, if not properly dealt with, steal our peace of mind and well-being. You can learn to diffuse fear and worry by casting all your cares on God.
As Christians, it’s important not to mask or deny our fears. Often we will try to cover our fears and insecurities with faith words. We often put on that Christian happy face and tell others we are blessed or everything is fine, even though there is deep pain in our heart. In solitude, we may earnestly pray and ask God to take our pain away or sing songs of worship and praise, only for that heavy feeling to return again and again.
Though heartfelt, prayer and praise alone may not help in eliminating our negative emotions. Instead of releasing them, they are buried further down into our subconscious mind, where they gnaw at us and weigh us down creating a perpetual dark cloud over our heads.
If we look at this from a logical standpoint, if we focus only on the emotion, its like implementing solutions to a problem that has not been properly identified. In almost all cases, our negative emotions are not the problem but only a symptom of it. The presence of negative emotions is the indicator that something is wrong. Feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, fear, or sadness is our body’s way of saying we are out of alignment with God’s perfect plan for us or His spiritual well-being. If we stop only at the negative emotion or try to eliminate the emotion without going deeper, it’s like putting a band aid on cancer.
Often times people will say, “I feel depressed” and then seek out ways to overcome the depression. Instead of going inward, they look for outward solutions usually in the form of eating, activity, mind altering substances, relationships or whatever they think will make them feel better. It’s no different than a medical doctor prescribing pain medication to mask the symptoms of illness instead of finding the root of the pain and addressing it head on.
God wants us to possess his peace and joy at all times, even in unfavorable conditions. In order to do that, He gave us our emotions as a guidance or alert system to tell us that something has invaded our peace and joy. 2 Timothy 1:17 tells us that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. Anytime our well-being is jeopardized, we must immediately find the issue and eliminate it. Any time we are living in fear, we are not operating in faith, and faith is fuel that sustains the kingdom of God. Anytime we are living in fear, we sabotage and block the blessings of God in our life. We are to walk by faith and not by sight.
Another problem with allowing fear in our heart is that those fearful thoughts and emotions begin to multiply and before you know it you are completely debilitated by them. As the fear grows, you will begin to attract that which you fear most, perpetuating your unwanted circumstances. Luke 6:45 tells us that a good man out of the good treasure in his heart attracts that which is good. The same is true of our fearful thoughts. Job stated in Job 3:25, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” (King James Version) When we fear it’s like we create a magnetic hole that attracts the very thing we don’t want. When we are in faith, that hole is filled with the presence of God and leaves no room for anything else to penetrate.
In order to eliminate a problem, you just first identify what the problem is, otherwise you are just shooting in the dark. Below is an exercise to help you to move past the emotion to the root cause and then take it to the Lord for healing. Please do this exercise somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed for a few moments. You will also need a paper and pen to write down each of your responses. You may be tempted to do it in your head but it’s much more effective if you write it down.
- Identify the emotion you are feeling and write it down. Although you may be feeling stress, worry, anger, or anxiety, please note that most negative emotions result from fear. Example: I am feeling fearful.
- Ask yourself, “Where or what is this “fear” (emotion) coming from and then write it down. All negative emotions have a root cause which is often unconscious to us. Usually it comes from a specific circumstance or situation that resulted in a negative thought. You may have to dig deep inside to find it, but keep digging until you do. Example: They are laying off a lot of people at work and I might be next.
- If Jesus were present with you, what would he tell you about this fear? Write down what comes to your heart. Be patient, this may take some time. Don’t over analysize. Trust the Holy Spirit in you to provide the answer. Example: He would say, “Fear not” I will never leave you or forsake you. I know what you need and I am able to meet all of your needs. Just trust me. I will see you through.”
- Close your eyes and meditate on these words of God and let them penetrate your spirit. Take in several deep breathes and with each exhalation silent repeat, “I release this (emotion) fear. I re-establish my trust in God. All is well. Thank you Jesus.”
- Throughout the rest of the day, if you feel the fear or anxiety arising, reread God’s comforting words to you and continue to declare, “I let this “fear” go. I chose to trust God. All is well. Thank you Jesus.”
- Repeat as needed until you have fully released the emotion to God and your peace and joy is fully restored.
As you can see, it is when we get our eyes off of the Kingdom of God and onto ourselves and our circumstances that we open the door to fear and negative emotions.
If time permits following this exercise, spend time with God in silence and stillness. This is often referred to as Christian meditation. The techniques used in Christian meditation or centering prayer can help you to gain control over negative thoughts and emotions. Those who meditate regularly quickly distinguish when their peace is being evaded and can easily restore their feelings of well-being and joy. Christian meditation is like preventative maintenance of our spiritual health.