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When Panic Attacks

In times of anxiety, we can lift our eyes to the One who has all the answers for our fear and worry.

Apr 22, 2020

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Four years ago, I could not have taught this breakout session.

The 2013 ACBC Annual Conference fell between two trips to the emergency room. During both trips, I was sure I was having a heart attack. Without a doubt that’s what I believed and that’s what my wife believed. But we learned that it wasn’t a heart attack. It was what doctors called cardiomyopathy. The Mayo Clinic calls it “broken heart syndrome.”

This is a stress-induced condition that contains every symptom of a heart attack, but without permanent damage to the actual heart muscle. It can be provoked by stress. It can be provoked by the death of a loved one. It results in sudden chest pain and you feel as if you are having a heart attack. It can be brought on by the heart’s natural reaction to the surge of stress hormones that are rushing through your body. Part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or within even more forceful contractions.

Today, this is referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, and it mimics a heart attack. Common symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and a generalized weakness—a sense of physical drain. This is a pretty accurate description of something that the Psalmist actually describes in Psalm 31, when he says deep grief and high levels of mental and emotional stress actually can lead to physical and medical problems. We’ll turn to consider that text in just a moment.

In the Scriptures there is a connection between the power of grief and stress upon the physical body. For example, thousands of years ago the Patriarchs recognized the potential impact of powerful emotions upon the body. Jacob and his sons acknowledged this connection in Genesis. It says that Jacob feared the possibility of premature death caused by deep sorrow and distress. His son Judah’s plea for the release of his younger brother Benjamin included that understanding.

While begging Joseph (who had not yet disclosed himself) to let him return Benjamin to his father, Judah said, “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol.”

Sheol is the Hebrew word for the grave.

Now as biblical counselors, we rightfully and readily recognize that we are not medical physicians. Respect for reliable medical research, recommendations, and intervention is wise. And this “temporary medical condition” that the Mayo Clinic refers to as broken heart syndrome is just one illustration of the need for us to take seriously the warning signs that God has built into our bodies as a gift from Him.

Four years ago, I was in the midst of the biggest crisis of my life and ministry and that’s why I could not have taught this seminar. Anxiety had taken me captive. Satan was taking advantage of a two-year battle with depression. I was being helped by a biblical counselor in my area who is pastor and a tremendous servant of God, but pressures from many different directions were all converging at once and I was about to crash.

I had lifelong pattern of pleasing people. We call it the fear of man, the inability to say no. In the name of ministry, we call it “doing everything that God brings to us to do.”

Family trials, financial stress, church conflicts, spiritual warfare and my sinful responses to all of the above mixed all together into a swirling storm. This perfect storm was at work to throw me upon the Rock of Ages in a very painful, but also fresh new way of teaching me what it really meant to trust God. God was initiating a life reboot.

I committed myself to take a minimum of one year off from pastoral ministry. After that one year, God worked in amazing good and providential ways to open a new ministry and bring about the moving of our family from Wisconsin to Ohio. It’s been a wonderful two years of serving Him in a new church, but with a new perspective.

Not that I don’t still struggle with those same things that were part of that whole mixture in the past. The battle continues. The battle with anxiety is something that I’ve wrestled with—it is perhaps one of my sin struggles that will remain throughout my Christian life. I don’t know.

But what I want to do in this session is not give you the magic pill, the magic answer, or the magic bullet for the one thing that’s going to cure your anxiety. But I want to walk you through some of the biblical counsel that has helped me tremendously in the last few years and continues to help me. These are ongoing disciplines, an ongoing changing of my mind, an ongoing shifting of my desires and my heart’s longings to God. I want to help you by sharing how God has been helping me to grow in this area of dealing with my anxiety.

The battle with anxiety is part of our fallen condition. Click To Tweet

The battle with anxiety is part of our fallen condition. It is estimated that 23 million Americans suffer from panic attacks. It’s helpful and encouraging to realize that the Bible honestly addresses this aspect of our fallen human condition, including its negative effects on the human body, mind, and spirit.

Body-Soul Connection

Before we get into some definitions and prescriptions of how to deal with anxiety in our lives, I want to begin with preliminary reminders concerning what we call the body-soul connection.

Biblical counseling affirms the human body and spirit have impact upon one another; we are embodied spirits. We are spiritual beings who are—in this lifetime—encased within a physical body. The body has impact upon the spirit, and the spirit has impact upon the body. For example, let’s look at Psalm 31. We see that distress, grief, weariness of soul, loss of strength, and physical deterioration may result from spiritual problems.

In Psalm 31:9-10, the Psalmist is praying to the Lord and he says,

“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;

my eye is wasted from grief;

my soul and my body also.

For my life is spent with sorrow,

and my years with sighing;

my strength fails because of my iniquity,

and my bones waste away.”

The body-soul connections are all over the place. He says, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress.” He is experiencing an unusually high level of stress in his life. His eye is wasted away from grief. There’s a lot of grief that is contributing to his situation. And his soul and his body are being affected. He’s filled with sorrow, sighing, and weakness. His strength is failing him.

“Because of my iniquity.” So he also sees that there are spiritual issues going on in his own life. There are sin issues in his own life that are contributing to the whole mixture of what he’s going through. And God is bringing all of these factors to bear upon the need for this man to run back to the Lord for the cleansing that he needs as a sinner, but also for the confidence that he needs in the God who provides all that we need.

Another preliminary reminder we should consider is that an unrepentant heart may cause physical problems. The key word in that statement is “may.” It’s not always the case. Let us not be like Job’s counselors who always made a definitive connection between sin and suffering. Let us not be like the disciples in John 9 who wondered “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” We should understand that there is a connection where sin does bring suffering into our lives, but it is not a definitive connection. It is not always the case.

It certainly was the case in Psalm 32. David had been confronted by the prophet Nathan, and most Bible scholars say that there was about a year between the time in which David sinned with Bathsheba and when he actually confessed. So he wrestled and battled with his guilty conscience and Psalm 32 is a description of the torture of his soul during this time.

He says in Psalm 32:3, “When I kept silent [some translations add ‘about my sin’], my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.”

There’s a physical consequence to his refusal to deal with his sin. Then verse 4 says, “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” He sees that this is from the Lord.

And then the Psalm goes on to describe why David could open the Psalm with this declaration:

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,

and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

David then describes how he felt when he wasn’t being honest with God. And he ends the Psalm by saying to us, “Don’t be stubborn as a mule, like I was.” (v.9) When God deals with you, be honest with Him. And be honest with Him right away.

We also need to remember that anxiety may cause mental and physical stress. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Anxiety has a power over our bodies. It can impact the way that we physically feel and weigh us down. This is interesting because you’ll notice in a lot of your reading that there is often a connection between anxiety and depression. Many times a person will be struggling with those two things together. The anxiety is weighing the man down.

Some things are physical, but all things are spiritual. Click To Tweet

Some things are physical, but all things are spiritual; that is, regardless of whether the body is a contributor to anxiety, every emotional struggle includes a spiritual element. The embodied spirit is always in need of some form of counseling, namely the ministry of grace and truth.

We can apply this to every area of counseling; there may be a medical connection at some point in certain cases. We need to understand that some things are physical, but all things are spiritual. Regardless of how much the physical situation may be a factor, there is always a need for the souls of men and women to be ministered to with the Word of God in grace and truth. Personally, that’s my goal as a biblical counselor. When I read in John 1 that Jesus was full of grace and truth, I say, “God make me like Jesus.”

We are creatures of extreme, aren’t we? We’re either way over here on the grace side, and we think we’re being nice to people by not telling them the truth that they really need to hear. Or we’re way over on the truth side. And we think, “You know what—this guy just needs to be shaken up.” And no doubt, sometimes we do need to shake up the people that we’re counseling with the truth of God’s Word, but the challenge is to always do that with the patience and that grace that God always has toward us.

That balance of grace and truth is so important for us. We can really harm a person who needs our counsel if we don’t strive for that balance.

Every one of us has a role to play in people’s suffering. We don’t have to be the medical doctor—God’s given us many people like that. But we can minister the Word of God to people in every situation—whether it’s a sin struggle or a suffering situation.

What is Anxiety?

The noun that is translated “care” in the New Testament is connected to the word “merizo,” which means to draw in different directions, to pull apart, and to distract. The anxious soul is the soul that feels that it’s being pulled in separate directions. That creates unrest. It fills the heart with a sense of distraction and unrest. This word is used many times in the Gospels and other places in the New Testament, some examples being Matthew 13:22, Mark 4:19, Luke 8:14, Luke 21:34, and 2 Corinthians 11:28.

The verb form of this word that’s translated “to be anxious” means to have a distracting care. It’s the verb form of that same word, so the care is the distraction. That’s the thing that’s entered into our life that is causing this temptation to have a heart pulled in different directions.

Jesus spoke of this with his disciples—to not be anxious, to not be overtaken by the cares of this life. What are some conclusions we can come to?

First, anxiety is fear. Anxiety is a form of fear that is often rooted in unbelief. When I’m overtaken by anxiety, it is an indicator to me that I am letting something attempt to pull me apart and pull my soul away from total trust in God.

For example in Luke 12:32, Jesus says to His disciples, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Can you just hear Jesus saying to His disciples who are filled with anxiety? So what does Jesus say to His disciples, who are very distracted, with their souls being torn at that point? “Fear not.”

He speaks into their situation with tenderness. There’s authority: “Fear not.” But there’s also tenderness: “little flock.” That’s a beautiful description. He didn’t say “dumb sheep,” but, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

He reminds the disciples of the goodness of their heavenly Father. He reminds the disciples of the relationship that they have with God. If God is your Father, He has made a commitment to you that is greater than your commitment to Him. If He’s giving you the kingdom, then what makes you think that whatever you are distracted and worried about is more important than the kingdom that He’s giving to you?

In Matthew 6, Jesus says, why do you worry? Why are you anxious? “O you of little faith.”

My concern with our overly medicated society is that everyone who has anxiety problems thinks the solution is to just take a pill. In fact, I had an Uber driver who asked me what I was speaking on at the conference. I told her, “I’m teaching a session on anxiety.” And she said, “Oh, I need that. My insurance cut out and I’ve got to go a month without my meds, and I have no idea how I’m going to do it.” And she was really sharing from the bottom of her heart.

And I’m not here to start some kind of argument about meds. I’m simply saying that regardless of how God is working in people’s lives as they are brought to us and we have the opportunity to open the Word and minister to them, we should see anxiety as a door into the heart of a person. We can show them that what is happening is that their faith is being distracted. We need to take them to the heavenly Father.

We need to point them to the heavenly Father who loves them beyond what they can even understand. That statement in Luke 12 that “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” reminds me of the comparison that Paul gives us in Romans 8:32, when he says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Anxiety is an extreme self-focus, but this is an intentional turning our eyes away from ourselves, turning to the Lord, as Jesus directs his disciples to do. Jesus gives us a wonderful example there of how to counsel people who are anxious.

Sometimes we have this idea that God is giving us stuff in a begrudging kind of way. He’s excited to give us good. As Christ says, it’s the Father’s good pleasure.

Fear is often rooted in unbelief, but anxiety is also often the result of wrong or false thinking patterns. We love to quote Philippians 4:6-7 when we are counseling people who are struggling with anxiety, but we forget about verse 8. This is just one of those reminders for us to consider that there were no chapter divisions and verse numbers in the original text of the Scriptures.

The apostle starts in Philippians 4:4 with the command to, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Notice that joy comes from intentionally turning the eyes of your heart away from yourself to the Lord. Then the passage continues,

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

First, prayer will guard your heart. When you pray to your heavenly Father, who delights to give you the kingdom, in your time of anxiety, He will send His peace to stand as a century at the door of your heart saying, “Anxiety, get out. I’m locking the door. You are not allowed to come back in.” That’s the word picture.

In addition to that discipline of prayer, Paul says you need to change the way that you think. You need to make sure you’re thinking rightly. There’s a renewing of the mind process that needs to happen when we’re struggling with anxiety.

Common Factors in the Experience of Anxiety

False cares are often a common factor in the experience of anxiety. By false cares, I don’t mean they’re not real in the mind and life of the person who is anxious. As Jesus says in Matthew 6, compared to the promises of God to take care of you and meet your every need, these cares are false.

They’re not real to the extent that they threaten your relationship with God. They don’t threaten the promise of God in your life. In that sense, they’re false cares. They’re lesser cares.

Another common factor is a lack of faith. In Matthew 6:25-26, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”

He directs them to their heavenly Father and shows that their cares are false when compared to the promise of God.

Christ also exposes the lack of faith in verse 30, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

If we’re going to be truly biblical when we counsel people who are struggling with anxiety, we need to teach them that part of growing through this and overcoming anxiety is getting to the point where you honestly confess it to God as a form of unbelief, which is sin.

That’s something we are not seeing in modern day communication about anxiety. We’re just seeing it called a disease or a disorder. We’re not hearing it called a sinful form of unbelief, but Jesus says you lack faith. There’s a lot of room for growth in your faith, is what he’s saying.

We do the people that we counsel a disservice when we try to help them get the fastest relief for their symptoms. In the name of helping them, we forgo this internal process of wrestling, so that the muscle of faith can be exercised. Like any other muscle, faith will not grow unless it is exercised.

Also worldly values are sometimes factors in anxiety. Jesus says, “for the Gentiles seek after all these things.” The pagans, the unbelievers, they seek after these things. “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

He’s not saying, “Don’t have legitimate concerns about provisions in your life.” He’s not saying, “Quit your job, kick up your feet in the recliner, and just wait for God to drop manna on your back lawn every morning.”

He is telling us to make sure that these cares are not overtaking you, causing a preoccupation that leads you to not obey verse 33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

All of these things will find their proper place when Christ is central.

That’s why true biblical counseling is always Christ-centered—because we’re trying to bring people back to the center. The center is Christ. And so we see that regardless of what’s going on in our life that is that is tempting us and provoking us toward this anxiety, we need to look to Christ first. Look to the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Relational conflict is also a very real factor in anxiety. Look with me at Psalm 13, for example.

If you haven’t already developed the discipline of being in the Psalms on a regular basis, you need to do that for the growth of your own soul. If you do that as a counselor, if you feed on the Psalms, you will begin to see an honesty with emotions that we’re afraid of in our culture.

But what you’re also going to see is that whatever is going on, the Psalmist is always trying to wrestle it through with a God-centered perspective. That’s what we need to do. That’s what we want to help our counselees to do.

In Psalm 13, four times, the Psalmist says “How long O Lord?”

This trial has been going on for a while. He feels forgotten by the Lord.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul

and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

But then in verse 5, there’s a conscious decision to turn the eyes of faith to the Lord:

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

You see a massive change of attitude in that Psalm. In six short verses, the Psalmist goes from being extremely anxious, concerned, feeling abandoned by God, and overtaken by his enemies, but then there is this decisive choice to turn away from anxiety to faith.

If anxiety is a form of unbelief, then what is always part of the solution? Renewed faith is always part of the solution—to consciously turn to the Lord to trust in His steadfast love.

This brings in the the beautiful example of praying the Scriptures. Do you ever find your soul so troubled about something that you don’t even know how to pray? And we praise God that Romans 8 says that the Spirit of God prays for us when we don’t know how to pray. Another discipline is to go to the Scriptures and pray the Scriptures.

If the situation in Psalm 13 looks like your life, then why not pray his prayer to God? It’s definitely one sure way to make sure that the thoughts and meditations of your heart are on the Lord—when they’re in sync with the Scriptures.

Another common factor in anxiety is anger against God. In Genesis 4, we see this in Cain. I know that Cain is often turned to as an example of depression. However, that’s not where it started. If you read the text carefully you will see that his depression, his fallen countenance, came after his anger against God.

It was Cain’s judgment that God had not treated him fairly and his anger at God that led to his depression. The more you’re involved in counseling people, you’ll see that many times there is an anger factor that’s contributing to a person’s depression. That was certainly the case with Cain, who became very anxious, disturbed, and distraught about how He perceived God to be dealing with him.

Another aspect involved in anxiety is spiritual warfare. I think in biblical counseling, we are not thinking about this aspect enough. I understand historically why we’re not. In the early 80s, there was this huge interest in spiritual warfare and all the best-selling books at the Christian bookstores were about demons and this and that. It’s what everybody was talking about. And then those with more biblical discernment saw that overreaction or that preoccupation, and responded in an overreaction the other way, which is just the way history goes.

Now I think we’re to the point where we don’t really think much about the reality of Satan’s opposition in our lives.

Peter says in 1 Peter 5:6-8 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Satan is like a lion. He is prowling about seeking believers to devour. Let’s not forget that element. I’m not saying we should swing the pendulum back and make spiritual warfare the primary focus. But let’s not forget that as believers we do live in the midst of a war. Satan wants nothing more than to destroy you and me, because he hates the Christ who lives within us.

Another common factor with anxiety is physical disease, which I’m not going to get into, but I heartily recommend that you read Charles Hodges’ book, Good Mood, Bad Mood. It’s my favorite on this subject. Written by a primary care physician who’s spent his whole life in medicine and is committed to biblical counseling. I hope that will help you sort through some of those issues.

Disciplines for Working Through Anxiety

These are seven disciplines that I have found to be helpful in my wrestling with anxiety in my life. You will probably come up with more disciplines, or you can tweak these as you deem necessary for yourself.

Recite

The first discipline is to recite. What I mean by this is to recite Scriptures to yourself to combat unbelief. Find particular Scriptures, promises in the Word that speak to your particular struggle with anxiety, and recite those. Talk to yourself about those Scriptures.

Proverbs 18:10 is an example. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

When you’re overcome with anxiety, you can speak the names of God to remind yourself of His attributes.

Isaiah 43:2 says,

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.”

What an amazing promise. We have the never failing presence of God. God is truly present with us.

Psalm 23 says,

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me.”

We have a compassionate Savior who understands our weakness and who has also promised to never leave us, nor forsake us. No matter what your anxiety is, or the anxiety of the person you’re trying to help, there is the promise that the never-failing Savior will never leave you, nor forsake you.

Remember

Remember the Lord’s particular works in your life. You find this over and over in the Psalms. “I will sing of the works of God.” “I will tell of the works of God.” Psalm 103:2, “Forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 103 is a beautiful place to begin. In the back of my journal, I’ve reserved a number of pages that I continue to add to. At the top of the page, it says, “My God is…”

And as I read the Scriptures in my devotional time, I keep seeing these qualities of God that speak to my need for peace, build my faith, combat unbelief, and combat anxiety. For example, my page for Psalm 25 says,

My God is trustworthy.

He is the rewarder of those who wait for Him.

He’s faithful to guide His own.

He’s the God of my salvation.

He’s compassionate.

He’s filled with kindness and grace.

He’s forgiving.

He remembers me, but he doesn’t remember my sin against me.

He’s good.

He’s upright.

He’s an instructor of sinners.

And it goes on and on, and ends with verse 22. He is the redeemer.

Remember the particular works of God in your life, for we are forgetful people by nature. We have to tell ourselves to remember.

Respect

By respect, I mean having a conscious consideration of God’s design for the orderliness of our life, the limits of our bodies, and the need for rest. This is something I have not been good at.

Some people are really good at creating margin in their life. My whole life, this has been a constant struggle for me. I’m seeing some progress, thankfully, but anxiety really can be aggravated by the relentless abuse of our minds and our bodies through an over-obsession with work when we fail to cooperate with God’s design for rest.

Whatever your particular conviction is concerning the principle of Sabbath rest and how you carry that out in your own life, you have to agree (based on the creation account) that God has made us in His image, and He set this example of a time for rest.

As Psalm 103 says, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” My problem many times has been that I don’t remember that I’m dust, and I take on way more than I can and should.

This would include respecting a good diet. I’m talking about basic, common sense moderation, not extreme cultic kinds of things. That’s not what I’m speaking of. Regular sleep habits, regular exercise. The older you get the more difficult that is, but it’s all the more necessary.

I would like to encourage you to consider getting a book called Fit for the Master: Glorifying God in a Healthy Body, written by John Lehman. It’s really helped me a lot. He gives many benefits in there to regular exercise. In particular, how regular exercise is part of the solution for anxiety and depression.

Repent

Anxiety stems from an element of unbelief. There’s at least somewhere in that anxiety some element of unbelief that’s mixed in, so we need to repent of that unbelief. We need to commit our way to the Lord. We need to ask Him to strengthen our faith. If Jesus said to the disciples “O you of little faith,” we should confess to the Lord, “Today, I’m feeling like a disciple with little faith. Strengthen my faith.”

I find that I regularly have to confess and repent of pride, perfectionism, and people pleasing. All of those things contribute to my battle with anxiety.

Replace

When the Holy Spirit convicts you and you repent, then you need to replace that sin with that which is righteous and holy. One of the common factors in anxiety is wrong thinking, so you need to identify those sinful thinking patterns and replace them. Replace your unbiblical ways of thinking about God.

If you think He’s stingy, then you need to really camp out on what the Word says about the overflowing goodness of God in the abundance of His gifts toward us.

Self-centered thinking patterns are often rooted in unbelief. These these thoughts then overtake our soul and they kill our joy. Self-pity is a joy killer.

Remain

Remain in the Word—abide in Christ. As Jesus says in John 15, abide in Christ. Remain in the Word of God, letting the Word speak to you. Work through Psalms like Psalm 77, 73, 42, and 55. Work your way through those Psalms as if you were the one writing them. They’ll help you immensely.

Remain in prayer. Remain in fellowship with God’s people. Remain in friendship with godly people who are going to help you and encourage you.

I think of Onesiphorus who is mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:16. What a beautiful phrase that’s used of this man, “he often refreshed me.” Wouldn’t be great to have that on our tombstone? He or she often refreshed others. We need to be those kinds of counselors.

Review

Keep working through all of these truths, these reminders, and these promises. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones talks about in his book Spiritual Depression, talk to yourself instead of letting yourself talk to you. Take control of your thoughts as the Psalmist models in Psalm 42 and 43. Tell yourself what to believe instead of letting yourself tell you what to believe. Review the truth of God and then rest.

Rest

Rest in the Lord. Rest your body. Rest your spirit. Rest your mind.

The more I counsel and pastor God’s precious people, the more my heart is drawn to that invitation of Jesus at the end of Matthew 11,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

People are coming to us with their anxiety and they want us to be the ones to help them. The only way that you and I are going to help them is if we redirect them to the Jesus of Matthew 11, who says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden.”

All we are as counselors is a conduit to move them to Christ. You don’t have to feel like you need to have all the answers. We’re never going to be the people who have all the answers, but we do want them to be thriving in their relationship with the One who does have all the answers.