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Antidote for Anxiety II: The Cure for Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Recently a client called me just before her appointment. She sobbed into the phone that she felt too depressed to leave the house and asked if we could have our session on the phone. I of course agreed.

 It’s amazing what you can do in a phone consultation. As we talked, I realized that most of her problems stemmed from stinkin’ thinkin’. She often catastrophizes, envisioning worst-case scenarios for every potential problem.

 Over 95% of what we fear never happens yet we waste huge amounts of energy worrying. That’s why the Bible’s advice to be transformed by the renewing of our mind is excellent news. You can truly change your life by changing your mind. It worked very well for my client and it can work for you.

 She was so tormented she had no peace of mind. I offered her some ‘prescriptures’, select biblical passages she could meditate on to restore her peace and free her from the depression that gripped her soul. I asked if she knew God promised us peace so profound it surpasses our understanding. Another way of saying this is it transcends human reason. We can find peace like the eye of a storm even in the midst of life’s hurricanes.

 I read her Philippians 4:6-9, a passage so powerful it’s like spiritual Prozac. Like a divine tranquillizer, I often prescribe it for people dealing with anxiety or depression. It tells us to be anxious about nothing. Now there’s a concept! But it doesn’t just tell us what we shouldn’t do, it offers us positive proactive steps to treat anxiety. It says we displace anxiety by requesting God’s help, but we must do this in a specific way. The Apostle Paul tells us we should ask for His help with supplication and thanksgiving.

 Certainly the attitude of gratitude is invaluable. At any given moment, we all have far more to be thankful for than to complain about, but we get hooked on seeing our glass half empty. It’s so easy to be negative. But you can’t be grateful and continue to feel bad. Thanksgiving alone is sufficient in most circumstances to add helium to the hot air balloon of our life.

 Supplication is equally essential but most people don’t know what it means. Supplication means asking God for whatever you want and humbly accepting whatever answer He gives you.

 My client wanted to know how she could do that. She struggled to believe God even loved her. Her rigid religious upbringing gave her no frame of reference for a God who loved her in spite of her flaws and no matter what she did. She didn’t just have baggage she lugged around steamer trunks full of sin, guilt and condemnation. 

 I showed her I John 1:9, which says if we confess our sins, God will forgive us from all unrighteousness. It doesn’t say if we confess, run laps around the church, genuflect ten times, and promise to never sin again. The only condition for forgiveness is confession, then God forgives ALL our sins. This was new to her. She had no idea God was so gracious.

 I encourage clients who struggle with anxiety to meditate on Philippians 4 twice a day, morning and night. I asked her to write it down, stick it in her pocket and meditate on it whenever she needed it. You can never overdose on prescriptures. The passage ends by saying we should focus our thoughts on whatever things are good, pure, lovely, just and positive. I prayed for her to find the peace she sought and ended our session.

 Late that evening she called to say she was experiencing a brand new sensation. She was so happy she giggled into the phone when I asked what it was. She said for the first time in many years, she was finally at peace.

 Stinkin’ thinkin’ can rob us of many things. Thankfully God has an antidote. Modern science confirms that words have awesome power. In a new movie called What the Bleep, a Japanese physicist showcases his studies of water molecules and the change which words cause. He photographed water molecules that were blessed through prayer. They are far more beautiful than those that were not. He’s even shown that water molecules in a glass with the words “I hate you and want to kill you,” taped to it become grotesquely ugly. The movie them says since our bodies are over 90% water, the impact of the words we use on our selves is amazing, both for evil and for good.

 No words are more powerful than God’s. With words, He created the universe. With words Jesus healed the sick and released people from all manner of evil. God’s word is like a spiritual scalpel, able to cut to the core of our problems and perform surgery on our very soul (Hebrews 4:12). It is not only our antidote for anxiety but it also contains the solutions for our every need. For with the transformation of our minds come the reformation of our very lives, and with it, the wholeness that enables us to achieve things beyond what we ever dared dream. And with that comes the eternal life – living life God’s way now and forever. It just doesn’t get any better than that.  

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