Wesley just started a 4-week series on learning how God provides us remedies from anxiety, depression, and addiction. Many of those struggles have roots in things our friends and families have said to us and generational sins that our parents, grandparents, and distant ancestors struggled with. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit our Comforter, we can be free of anxieties, depression, and addictions.
In the twenty-first century, many of our distractions come from technology, innovations, and the weight of unrealistic expectations. And that definitely applies to American Christianity as well. We like for things to happen quickly and perfectly the first time we try them. We don’t like to wait. Often times we throw our struggles into the heavenly crockpot and expect them to be cooked as if they were in a microwave. Unfortunately, God likes to take his time.
We’ll talk about how trusting in Jesus can help deal with all of the curveballs that the enemy and life can throw at us.
Jesus isn’t just an idea - he’s a person.
We like to think of Jesus, in Bob’s words, as our “heavenly sugar daddy” or a myth in a castle that floats in the sky. However, the Bible paints a much more challenging canvas. Jesus was spat at, rejected, almost run off a cliff, and murdered, all for us.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:1-5 ESV
So if Jesus truly experienced that sort of hardship, is he still a myth or is he actually a person? In reality, Jesus had to be a person so he could feel what sin felt like without ever actually doing it, so he could serve us and tell us what the true nature of the Father was. That’s nuts! He also said the greatest of us would be the greatest servant, and Jesus literally gave up his spot in heaven and bridged a gap that we would never be able to cross just to say “I love you. You’re my favorite.” TO YOU.
Putting your faith in the perfect character of Jesus reveals his goodness over time. The more you walk with him, the more you realize how he empathizes with you and wants to reveal his goodness to you, and you can actually start walking in freedom through those victories.
God isn’t scared of our humanity.
Because Jesus can empathize with our pain and he understands it completely, he’s more than willing to dive into our mess and help us out of it. Thus, he can tend to us in our humanity. In John 8, Jesus encounters a woman who is about to be stoned for adultery, and instead of punishing her, here’s what happens:
“But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’”
John 8:9-11 ESV
Not only does he address the problem, he forgives the woman for her sin and sends her off in peace. Beautiful! That’s what Jesus does also with your sin, shame, and struggles: he gives you a clean slate and replaces lies with truth. Granted, it does take time, but the journey is worth it. Jesus promised in Philippians 1 that he intends to finish the journeys he starts in us, especially when he invites us to trust in him for peace in anxiety, joy in depression, and patience in struggling with addictions.
God encounters us in our suffering.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Our anxieties, depression, or addictions aren’t any laughing matter. They are hard, and the lies that these things are based out of are challenging and seem to build up every day. However, since Jesus isn’t afraid of our mess, he reminds us of who we are in him, and leads us patiently into freedom.
God may not take things away overnight, but His grace is sufficient through the suffering of our anxieties, depression, and addictions. His grace builds our character to uproot the lies we believe and it teaches us how to forgive people who have told us those lies.
One of the final scenes in Moana is when Moana is restoring the heart of Te Fiti who, without her heart, is a lava monster. Once her heart is restored, she once again became the loving Mother Earth deity she was meant to be. Lies we hear from other people can be like Maui stealing the heart. But, Jesus gives us the grace to fail and embraces the anxieties, depression, and addictions that came from those lies. Because of this, and only this, we are able to be restored to our true selves.
Author | Brad Schiebel