Lesson 8 - Freedom from the Effects of Abuse, Loss and Death, Fear and Anxiety
Freedom from the Effects of Abuse
Forms of Abuse
There are many forms of abuse. Some of them are: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, sexual, childhood, elderly, political, social, satanic ritual, authority, passive, active, and self-abuse. Lesson 4 - Inner healing - healing spiritual wounds and damaged emotions; Lesson 5 - Inner healing - reclaiming the mind and will from vows, curses and deception; and Lesson 6 - Inner healing - sexuality and soul ties deal in more detail with sexual abuse, spiritual abuse and emotional abuse, and the nature of abusers and indicate their special characteristics, but the general principles of prayer ministry apply to all abuse victims and perpetrators. See Resource Sheet 14 - Ministry to a Sexual Abuser.
Ministry to the Abused Adult Child
Apart from the usual need to forgive their parents, to repent of and receive forgiveness for their own reactive sins, and deal with any inner vows that might have been made, the wounded child needs most of all to receive a true image of what Father God is like. Only the Holy Spirit can lead them into the Father's presence, but before they are free to allow this, it can be helpful for someone to be a father (or mother) to them. If a girl has been sexually abused, then it is good, under the guidance of the Spirit, for a man to representatively say sorry for the men that have injured the child, and to seek forgiveness. Ask for forgiveness on behalf of those men in her life that failed to protect her and so allowed the abuse to happen. Many girls have never before in their lives experienced a man coming to them seeking forgiveness, and they have said so, and welcomed the opportunity to release their pain.
I (Mal) have taken this role many times, and God gifts some people to minister with his Father heart. Often I will ask a man, especially one who has a daughter of his own, to father the girl, and sometimes I have asked a woman to be a mother. Their role is to sensitively comfort, to reassure, to demonstrate that the hurt one is lovable and loved, is not ugly or a thing of shame but acceptable and beautiful. I find that the Holy Spirit is very good at enabling men and women to do this, even if it is their first time, if they are willing to simply forget their own embarrassment and respond to him as he causes love to flow.
But be careful. Listen to the Lord, and never push ahead any faster than the person is willing and able to go. Do not re-abuse them by being controlling, or by showing that you know exactly what they must do to be healed. If they can't do it you will only reinforce all the bad feelings they have about themselves and the people that have dominated their lives and crushed their spirits. It takes time, so take the time.
Never justify the behaviour of an abuser. The child is never to blame for the actions of an adult.
So many of those who were not properly fathered will have missed out on much of their childhood. It is good to teach them how to let the child in them live again. We are all children in God's eyes.
As pastors we (Diana and Mal) sometimes (more often than might be expected) encounter people who are afraid of us. Not of us personally, but of what we represent - church authority. To come to someone who has 'spiritual authority' - a representative of God - terrifies them. Why? Because they have been abused in the past by those in spiritual authority.
They have been shamed, manipulated and controlled, lied to and let down, judged, used and misused, all in the name of making them a 'good Christian' and 'furthering the cause of the gospel'. As David Johnson puts it, "The good news had become bad news; the message of life had been distorted until it nearly crushed out her inner life." We understand this because, although we are now pastors, we have been the victim of spiritual abuse several times. It is probably because of that abuse, and God's grace, that we stand here now.
For such people the concept of grace has been lost, and the church is no longer a safe place. If you are a pastor, or even a worker in a church based ministry centre, then you stand in the place of those who have wounded the soul and spirit of those whose trust has been broken.
Try to understand how one who is entrusted with the spiritual care of others might become an abuser. There are great pressures upon a pastor to have a 'successful' church and ministry. If the leader has wounds from childhood (which are often why he or she became a pastor in the first place) then the need to succeed may tempt them to use ungodly means to that end.
Spiritual abuse can occur when a leader uses their spiritual position to control or dominate another person. It bolsters the position or needs of a leader over and above one who comes to them in need. It can also occur when spirituality is used to make others live up to a 'spiritual standard'. Spiritual performance becomes more important than the person's actual wellbeing, or is used as a measure of their spirituality. Commonly in spiritual abuse, the bearer of bad news is made out to be the source of the bad news, and the victim is blamed for what caused their hurt.
What does God think of such leaders? Read Ezekiel 34:7-10. Or read Matthew 23:1-39, but instead of Pharisees and Teachers of the Law read Pastors and Church Leaders.
Have you gone for prayer about a problem or sickness, and after the 3rd or 4th time been told that you aren't seeing the answer because of sin in your life, or you don't have enough faith. See Jesus' answer to this:
John 9:1-41 - Jesus rejected the assumption that the man had sinned and so was blind. But did you see the reaction of the leaders to the man and their treatment of him? Then note Jesus' response to this. They judged the victim - Jesus judged the leaders.
Matthew 17:14-21 - The disciples had forgotten that their power came only from Jesus and hadn't prayed. So Jesus instructed them. He pointed out the lack of faith of the disciples, not the sick boy or his father.
When a victim is left feeling guilty, judged, condemned, shamed and confused after coming for help, spiritual abuse has occurred and the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with it. When a person is being harmed by the church leaders, as in a cult, but cannot leave because of the hold of those leaders on the woundedness of the person, spiritual abuse is occurring. If a person honestly confronts a leader about sin in their life and is told, "Do not touch the Lord's anointed!" this is spiritual abuse.
The results of spiritual abuse include: a distorted image of God; a distorted self-identity as a Christian; problems relating to spiritual authority; difficulty accepting grace; difficulty setting boundaries on other peoples' behaviour toward you; difficulty accepting personal responsibility, or over-acceptance of personal responsibility; lack of living skills - needing direction; difficulty admitting the abuse - misdirected loyalty to bad leaders; difficulty trusting. Mark Twain said, "A cat that sits on a hot stove lid won't ever sit on a hot stove lid again. But it probably won't sit on a cold stove lid either."
A common danger in prayer ministry is to re-victimise the victim.
Don't re-abuse the victim of sexual abuse during ministry. Any hint of putting part of the blame on a girl who has been raped is likely to be adding spiritual abuse on top of the sexual abuse. In fact it is not uncommon for a sexual abuse victim to be re-abused sexually by her counsellor. One well known counsellor, M. Scott Peck, in his first book The Road Less Travelled (p188), even advocated the possibility that sexual intercourse with the counsellor might be therapeutic for the victim. Hopefully his later encounter with Jesus might have caused him to re-evaluate this position!
Ministry to spiritual abuse victims is similar to that of other abuse victims, especially in getting them away from the abusive situation. However, an important factor will be the re-establishing of truth in their lives to counter the lies and distortions, and the reforming of their ability to trust others, particularly non-abusive leaders.
With spiritual abuse victims it is easy to try to pressure them to recognise that they have been spiritually abused - this can easily become spiritual abuse. Beware of such statements as, "I ought to know what a bad church leader looks like, after all I'm a pastor too!" or "Have you really prayed about this problem?" It can help to point out that Jesus suffered severe spiritual abuse, but do it only so they know that Jesus understands how they feel, not to demonstrate that because Jesus overcame it then they should too. This may be true, but they know they are not as strong as Jesus and may think you are putting yet another impossible burden and responsibility on them.
It is easy to spiritually abuse a person during prayer ministry. Imagine a wounded person surrounded by four or five eager ministers and students, all excited that they have learned to hear from God and wanting to both help the person and also prove their own spirituality. They bombard the person with their insights and questions, jumping in as soon as another stops talking. Does the person feel respected and loved for who they are and where they have been, or are they a target for the team's own needs and desires?
This is why we have one experienced person lead the ministry and the others respond to their direction. Even more importantly, this is why a good leader knows when to stop all talking and to allow the Holy Spirit to do what only he can do - heal!
Hebrews 12:10-11 - God provides us with healthy forms of discipline which are appropriate and necessary for raising children. However, arbitrary and inconsistent application of discipline causes damage to a child which stays with them through adult life. Emotionally abusive parents produce children who lack the natural sense of justice. Godly discipline produces self-control; abuse takes it away. Godly discipline enables a child to please their parents, but abuse teaches them that they must please them at all costs, while simultaneously making this impossible.
Imagine a parent trying to instill 'righteousness' into a child by lecturing them to force them into right thinking, reminding them of past sins, threatening them with what will happen in the future if they are not good, labeling the sinner rather than the sin, and not rewarding them or complimenting them when they do well. Or the parent who says, "Mummy will love you if you are good!" or, "Daddy won't like you if you do that!", or "Don't you come out of your room again until you can be good. I don't want to see you while you are still crying!" What message does this give the child? It implies they are only loved for what they do, not who they are. Yet this is so often how parents behave, because it was how they were brought up and how the church taught them to discipline their children.
Godly discipline is prepared to listen to the child's explanations and gives the child a voice. Abuse allows the child no defence. It forces him or her to feel but allows no emotional outlet. Abuse sees disagreement or protest as defiance, and punishes it as such. It allows no privacy nor personal space, and prevents the development of the child's unique character and personality.
In ministry encourage the person to see that the treatment they had was not 'normal' or 'right'. Help them to regain their innate sense of justice by teaching how to hold them accountable, declare their own innocence when they are not guilty, and to distinguish big sins from little sins. Teach them the difference between rights and self-sacrifice.
Validate their emotions - it is OK to feel - but show them how to manage the feelings. Tell them that their obligation to forgive does not mean they are no longer allowed to feel negative feelings about what happened. Pray confession, forgiveness and repentance as usual, but in addition break the power of words that have been used against them - labels, nicknames, curses and threats, etcetera.
Pronounce a parent's blessing on the parts of the child's personality which have not been allowed to live and grow.
An emotionally abused child has been subjected to discipline which was inconsistent and varied according to the good or bad mood of the parent. The parents made their own rules instead of applying God's rules for discipline, which do not change. The child learned how to please inconsistent parents who have usurped God's place in his or her life, administering unforgiveness and guilt in place of God's forgiveness, cleansing and love. This results in it being impossible for the child to understand that they are loved and accepted after doing wrong, even by Father God. They need now to discover the true love of the Father, and this will usually be through the love and acceptance of his people, who introduce him or her to the Father. However, it will only happen in the power of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-27).
When ministering to someone who was physically abused earlier in life, the physical damage, while important, will often already have been dealt with. However, with the physical mistreatment comes a full range of emotional, spiritual and psychological damage, which may be treated as already discussed.
Freedom from the Effects of Loss and Death
Death - a Part of Life
Humanity has always been fascinated by what happens to us after death. Death is our constant companion - statistically, apart from a couple of biblical exceptions, 100% of people die. Although we were made to live forever, at the fall death entered into our experience (Romans 4:12).
By his death and his resurrection, Jesus conquered the power of death, so that death would no longer have power over us.
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:14,15; John 11:25,26; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
We can only completely understand physical death in the context of eternal life. Humans are not intended to die. Our spirit continues even when our body stops functioning and decays. Then comes the judgement - the decision about our eternal future, based on what we did about whatever knowledge of Jesus we had (Hebrews 9:27).
Communication with the Dead
We are separated from those who have died and cannot receive any direct communication from them (Luke 16:26). Associating with any person who claims to contact the dead is strictly forbidden by God:
"Do not turn to mediums or spiritists, do not seek them out or be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 19:31; 1 Samuel 28:3; 1 Chronicles 10:13; Isaiah 8:19; Luke 16:19-31)
Christians, fearful of the dangers of spiritualism, of praying for the dead, and of doctrines presenting salvation after death, have been very cautious about accepting any relationship between the living and the dead. But the dead can indirectly affect the living. People are generally unaware that demonic spirits can be transmitted down the family line through ancestral sin, thereby affecting succeeding generations. (Leviticus 26:14-16, 40,41; Deuteronomy 27:12-26; Lamentations 5:7; Nehemiah 1:6). Christians also prefer to skip over such occurrences as the Witch of Endor summoning the dead Samuel to speak with Saul (1 Samuel 28:3-20). And from where did Moses and Elijah come when they appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8)? Elijah went to heaven in a chariot (2 Kings 2:11), but Moses is supposed to have died and been buried by God in Moab (Deuteronomy 34:5,6)!
While we do not wish to make too much of it here, we have heard stories and had experiences which indicate to us that we should not always make the common evangelical assumption that the appearance of a spirit is always a demon (or angel). It seems that it may also be possible for human spirits to become trapped in a place for a time, until released by one with suitable authority. This could possibly parallel the experience of Jesus between his death and resurrection, when he preached to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:18-20)?
Don't get the wrong idea here. We are not advocating attempts at communication with the dead - that is specifically forbidden. However, the need of the Lord to prohibit it should give us reason to suspect a possibility of some kind.
Death and the Early Church
The first Christians quickly developed an understanding which helped them deal with the death of loved ones:
An act of commendation of the soul to God at death.
A clear sense that the departed existed in the spirit in the next world.
Prayer was made asking that the departed enjoy peace and joy and be received by Jesus.
It was assumed that the departed would be praying for us.
There was certainly no suggestion that the prayers of the living could bring salvation to the departed.
Much later a ritual called "Last Rites" developed, where prayer is made for a person who is dying or who has already died, thinking that this can help bring their salvation. In fact, this ritual is an aberration of an earlier prayer intended to help the sick person get well again!
Lord of the Dead and the Living
"Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living" (Acts 10:42; Romans 14:8,9; 2 Timothy 4:1).
The Lord's authority extends far beyond this earthly life. "(God) who is and who was and who is to come" (Revelation 1:4).
Although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been dead for centuries - "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" and Jesus adds, "He is not the God of the dead but of the living", (Matthew 22:32).
Jesus promised the thief on the cross that he would be in paradise with Him that day (Luke 23:43).
Peter at the transfiguration, in some supernatural way, recognised the long departed Moses and Elijah (Mathew 17:1-9).
Jesus calls Lazarus back to life - the dead Lazarus immediately obeys the Lord. The dead man was listening! (John 11:43).
We read that "the bodies of many holy people were raised to life ... and appeared to many people" (Matthew 27:51-53).
Dealing with Unfinished Business
Jesus is declared to be Lord of the living and the dead (that is the earthly dead). So when we need to resolve any unfinished business with our loved ones who have died, we can. We are basically dealing with our own grief and regrets as the one who is dead is beyond our reach. We remember things we wish we had said or had not said. Remembering the years of unforgiveness on our part, we long to ask their forgiveness for the ways we have hurt them, and we want them to know that we have forgiven them for the hurt we received. How can we do this?
Come to Jesus in prayer, acknowledging Him as Lord of the living and the dead.
Ask Jesus to tell the one who has died our regrets for our wrong attitudes and actions, and our need to forgive and be forgiven, and our sorrow that we didn't tell them when they were still alive.
Realise that this is not to be an ongoing occurrence, their earthly life has now been completed. This prayer is to know the Lord's release from grief and guilt.
Release them into to His loving care.
The deaths of those who are closest to us affect us most, but sometimes, unresolved issues surface unexpectedly through the death of a celebrity, such as when Princess Diana died.
Deep Family Wounds
Miscarriages, Abortions, Sudden Infant Deaths
Every conception is life to a human soul. These children, who are now living in the presence of Jesus, are part of our families and their loss severs spiritual bonds, particularly between mother and baby.
The apparent lack of reason for the tragedy of a miscarriage or early death may open the way to wrongly assigned blame - parents will blame themselves, others and God. Mothers may need special prayer for their fears of subsequent pregnancies ending in the same way.
Enable the person to be free to express their emotions honestly without judgement.
Come to Jesus with all the grief and pain, in order to receive healing.
Ask Jesus to let them hold the little one.
Ask Him whether it was a girl or a boy.
Name the child, allowing time to grieve.
Ask forgiveness for any blame still held.
When ready, release the child and give him/her into Jesus' care.
A Prayer for Miscarriages, Early Infant Deaths:
"Dear Father, we are hurting because the baby we were looking forward to so much is not with us. We feel empty and lost and part of us is still searching for him/her. Yet Jesus, we know that little N...... is safe with You, because You love and cherish him/her. We look forward to the day when we will all be together with You.
"Jesus, please tell N...... ................................"
A Prayer if there has been an Abortion:
Abortion is murder, involving not only the rending of the mother-child bond, but the taking of life. Added to the grief there will be (often repressed) guilt, shame, self-blame and unforgiveness to be worked through with Jesus.
"Dear Father, I ask Your forgiveness for my part in taking my child's life. I am grateful Lord that You do know all about the pressures and reasons for my decision.
"I acknowledge that N....... is my child and I recognise and love him/her as my own. Please tell my little baby that I am truly sorry and I ask for his/her forgiveness.
"Jesus, please tell N...... ................................"
We have found one of Frank Peretti's novels, Tilly, to be a great comfort to women who have lost a child in this way. It movingly describes how the babies grow happily and healthily in the care of Jesus, and don't hold any condemnation for those who caused their death.
Suicide, Divorce, Separation.
God in His wisdom has bonded people together by the close ties of blood and marriage. When this relational bonding is torn apart, as happens with suicide, divorce or the running away of a teenager, it can wound a person more than other absences or death of a loved one - for it involves the choice of the person to abandon his/her family.
The pain of rejection, guilt, shame, blame, anger and many unanswered questions can take a long time to heal. Those ministering to family members must be very, very patient and offer them unconditional love.
Effects of Death on Siblings
Siblings are often overlooked or removed at the time of tragedy and may carry unresolved and unexplained insecurities into their adult life.
After the death of an older sibling:
The next child may spend its time in the womb in an atmosphere of tension and fear.
It may have a confused identity, expected to fill the place (and sex) of the lost one.
The mother may refuse to bond with the child for fear of loving and then losing.
The child may carry an unexplained fear of death or a desire to die.
Those who take these wounds into adult life will need to forgive their parents for placing unfair expectations on them. Healing comes when they know and believe that they are chosen by God from all eternity and belong to Him.
I (Mal) have experienced the healing effects of ministry to the fear and withdrawal from life that resulted from my being born following the death during birth one year earlier of Lawrence, who would have been my older brother. I also received comfort for this loss of a brother, even though I grew up not knowing of his existence. Later, my mother experienced a final release of grieving for Lawrence when a great granddaughter died - her name was Lauren! This coincidence of names can only be God's doing.
Grief is a poignant sense of loss - a sorrow and sadness that implies ongoing yearning and loneliness. Sorrow and sadness may return many times, but may be more quickly healed and helped by faith and prayer.
While sorrow and sadness more naturally work themselves out in a person's heart, unresolved grief can progress to become a spiritual stronghold on a person's life. Unresolved grief must be broken at the point of entry in order for the person to start afresh.
Some Issues That Need to be Dealt With
Agreeing with God that it is all right for this person to be gone.
Experiencing Jesus in the event.
Acknowledging and facing what has happened.
Dealing with guilt and forgiveness in past relationships or unfinished business.
Coping with the pain of separation.
Releasing from soul ties with person.
The person will ultimately need to release the one who has gone, to God.
Ministering to Grief and Sorrow
Pray for sensitivity and non-judgmental love - the person needs comfort, not pat answers nor holy platitudes.
Every person grieves in a different way and at a different rate - be patient.
Acknowledge the validity of the grief - take the person's loss and emotions seriously.
Help the person take Jesus into the time and situation where death took place.
Help them to find peace through your love, with "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
Demons and Death
Demons actively seek death, and try to control humans with thoughts of suicide and death. There are generational spirits called familial spirits particularly active at death, suicide and murder. When a person demonised in this way dies, these demons try to inhabit other family members. Charles Kraft puts it as follows:
One problem we need to be aware of is that when a demonized person, especially a relative, dies, demons from that person attempt to inhabit other members of that family. Perhaps it is family bonding that makes this more possible within families than with other situations. Recently, I was asking a demon how he got into the man I was ministering to. He said it happened while the man was a boy when his grandmother died. As a boy, this man had a close attachment to his grandmother. This attachment, plus his own ignorance, resulted in the entrance of the demon - an entrance that could have been prevented had he claimed the power of Christ to protect himself. (Deep wounds, deep healing, p 218)
Demons impersonate relatives who have died, in order to deceive and control the living. Because they were present in an ancestor's life they know much about that person. Thus they are easily able to masquerade as that person during a sťance, for example.
Similarly, demons can attach to places and buildings, resulting in many of the so-called 'hauntings'. Charles Kraft says:
When there has been a death of a demonized person in a house, the demons will often stay and cause disruption to subsequent residents in that house. When this happens, the current residents need to take authority over the house and the land it is on. ... Graveyards and mortuaries, being places of death, will also often have demons hanging around. For reasons I cannot explain, they frequently stay in places where the body they have inhabited once was, long after that body has left. I have even heard of a church that was badly disrupted by demons simply because they had been given a carpet once used in a mortuary. (Deep wounds, deep healing, p 218)
Unless God prevents it (as he did for Job), it may be possible for a demon to kill a person, even a Christian, whose lifestyle gives sufficient rights for Satan to eliminate that person. This may or may not be to Satan's advantage, depending on whether that person is an asset or liability to the Kingdom of God.
Freedom from Fear and Anxiety
Fear: a painful emotion caused by impending danger or evil, always a response to something specific.
Anxiety: an emotion that is characterized by feelings of apprehension, worry, and uneasiness, often concern about the future, usually about something tht has not and is not likely to happen.
But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." (Genesis 3:9, 10)
What is Fear?
Fear has many causes and takes many forms. It is a consequence of separation from God (Genesis 3:8-10). It can be caused by exposure to danger or evil, and in extreme cases it may be a threat to life itself. It may also result from the possibility of being deprived of someone or something we perceive as necessary to our well being. Some people enjoy the sensation of fear and seek it out through such things as horror films and thrill seeking such as extreme sports.
The Godly Emotion of Fear
Fear is given by God for our good. Without healthy fear the human race would have destroyed itself centuries ago. One of the good aspects of fear is a reverential awe and fear of the Lord (Psalm 33:8; 147:11; Luke 5:8). Some of its benefits are health, the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, it leads to life, it resists evil (Proverbs 1:7; 3:7,8; 9:10; 14:27; 16:6; 19:23; Psalm 103:11).
Fear also prepares the body to be ready to act. It releases adrenaline into our systems for survival, superhuman strength, speed etc, and makes us vigilant re dangerous situations.
Ungodly Fear (Job 15:24)
When we surrender to fear and it becomes a bondage in our lives (Job 3:25,26).
Fear that controls and torments us (Jeremiah 49:24; Daniel 5:6).
Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of social occasions.
Fear of sickness, of death and dying (Hebrews 2:14,15).
Phobias - fear of open spaces, of being enclosed, of spiders etc. (High rate of cure through behavioural techniques unless the phobia has its root in past trauma).
How Christians View Fear
Sin? Demonic? Incurable? Personal responsibility? Human weakness? (Proverbs 3:5-8; Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:18).
A result of the fall? (Genesis 3:9, 10).
Not to be feared. There are 366 'Fear Nots' in the Bible, spoken to such people as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Mary, Joseph, and the Disciples. (Genesis 3:10; 15:1; Deuteronomy 20:31; Joshua 1:9; Matthew 1:20; 14:25-27; Revelation 1:17).
Damaging Effects of Fear
Debilitates; controls; damages our potential; is disease producing; distorts our perceptions of world events; limits intimacy with God, others and self; affects our quality of life.
Causes of Fear
Spiritual fear - a sense of isolation from God.
Where a child has not known unconditional love.
A specific event early in life.
Dealing with Fear (Psalm 91; Proverbs 3:5-8; Luke 21:25-28)
Separate imaginary fears from real fears. Deal with each fear.
Face your fear and identify it, self talk, what is the worst that can happen?
Surrender fear into the hands of God - don't try to fight it.
Ask the Lord to show you the root of the fear.
Deal with the root - generational, false religions, Freemasonry, occult involvement, learned behaviour, specific events, abuse, trauma.
Repent of unbelief, doubt and not trusting God. (Psalm 56:3 "When I am afraid, I will trust in you.")
Cast out the spirits of particular fears.
A Matter of Choice
Choose to engage your will in line with the promises of God. (Perfect love casts out fear, 1 John 4:18).
Choose to renew your mind according to the truth.
Choose to renounce Satan's lies, break vows, replace wrong beliefs.
Choose to believe with utter conviction God's word and His unconditional love.
Choose as an act of will to wholly trust God, knowing His plans are for good.
Choose to follow and serve Jesus. (Deuteronomy 20:1-4; Matthew 11:2-6; Romans 8:28-39)
What is Anxiety? (Job 3:25; Habukkuk 3:16a)
Anxiety is an emotional feeling of apprehension, worry, dread, pressure, derived from the Latin root - to strangle. It has been said to be the official emotion of our age, the 3.00am feeling of dread. It can be acute (for a particular occasion) or chronic, some people are more anxiety prone than others.
A very moderate degree of anxiety might be healthy and desirable and is part of normal human life. Brings us to the Lord in prayer concerning things to be done, people to see, etc.
Destructive Effects of Anxiety (Luke 10:41,42)
Poor motivation, low efficiency and life satisfaction, interferes with learning, affects memory, hinders performance, causes difficulty in seeing things rationally. Such things in children are often an indication that something is wrong.
Persistent anxiety can lead to sin and the deeper problems of unbelief and trust.
Causes of Anxiety
Can arise from certain chemical disorders, hormone imbalance.
Internal conflict - parent's rules of conduct continually and irrationally changing.
Modern world - terrorism, Aids, media emphasis on disaster.
Postmodern world - the loss of a secure foundation of truth and the absence of absolute values.
Fear of the future.
Generational - sin, characteristics, demonic influences.
By example of our parents.
Learned by experience to be anxious, eg. failing driving test.
Feelings of anxiety arise from wrong patterns of thinking.
Acute feelings of anxiety and discomfort when danger is mild or even non-existent. The person reacts with unusual intensity and experiences strong physical sensations, eg. butterflies (stomach), lump (throat), dryness of mouth, rapid loud heart beat, shortness of breath, weakness, paralyzing fear.
"The surest way to permanent recovery is to know how to face and cope with the panic and not placate it with subterfuge. There are two fears involved - the first sensation of fear may come unbidden, triggered by something unknown, the second fear is the terrible feelings of panic experienced at the time of the first fear. A person must understand that it is the second fear that feeds the panic attack - fear of fear, fear of the "what ifs", "it's going to happen again". Panic can only come in a wave and the first fear must always die down if the person can avoid the second fear. Relax, take slow deep breaths, don't fight, let panic do its' worst without withdrawing from it." (Excerpts from Peace from Nervous Suffering by Dr. Claire Weekes).
What does not work
The cure is not in alcohol, drugs, smoking, shopping, busyness, false comfort, sleeping, eating, TV, New Age techniques, Yoga, or positive thinking.
Dealing with Anxiety
Check physical health.
Prayer ministry for generational effects, birth, childhood difficulties. Removal of dissociate parts would be especially beneficial.
Confess and take back the ground given to Satan by allowing anxious thoughts to dominate. Cast out demons of fear and deception.
Share worries with someone who will not condemn or preach.
Deal with TODAY - take bite-sized moments, tomorrow's problems haven't arrived. We are given enough grace to handle this day (Matthew 6:34; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Pray, study Scripture, sing praises, N.B. Prayer will only work if we face our anxieties, prayer is not a tranquilizer but is an expression of intimacy with God. Filling our mind with truth means we don't have room for anxious thoughts.
A Matter of Choice
Choose to come to Jesus for peace from worries, cares (Matthew :11:28; 1 Peter 5:7).
Choose to overcome by right thinking.
Choose between Scriptural truths and your feelings. It is not truth because it is in the Bible - it is in the Bible because it is truth. (Psalm 139:23-24).
(Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 6:27-34; Philippians 4:6,7; Romans 8:28-39; Hebrews 13:5,6)
Nowhere does the Bible offer us a life of undisturbed serenity - in fact the Christian is promised trouble and struggle (John 16:33; Ephesians 6:12), but the Lord does offer us the experience of overcoming with peace. Not the peace of resignation or indifference but the promise that no what happens or is happening, deep down we can have the confidence, that God is with us and is in control and that in the end He will make everything work out for good. He lovingly urges us daily to trust Him and to fear not.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:3-5)
Bibliography and Recommended Reading
- Johnson, David and Van Vonderen, Jeff, The subtle power of spiritual abuse. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1991.
- Kraft, Charles H., Deep wounds, deep healing: discovering the vital link between spiritual warfare and inner healing. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1994.
- Lewis, C.S., A grief observed. Bantam Books, 1976.
- McCall, Kenneth, Healing the family tree. London: Sheldon Press-SPCK, 1986.
- Peck, M. Scott, The road less travelled: a new psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth. London: Arrow Books, 1990.
- Peretti, Frank, Tilly. Eastbourne, East Sussex: Minstrel, 1989.
- Price, Roger, Explaining what happens after death. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1992.
- Ryan, Juanita and Dale, Recovery from fear. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.
- Sandford, John, Why some Christians commit adultery. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1989.
- Sandford, Paula, Healing victims of sexual abuse. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1988.
- Shaw, Luci, God in the dark: through grief and beyond. Crowborough, East Sussex: Highland Books, 1990.
- Watson, David, Fear no evil: a personal struggle with cancer. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1984.
- Weekes, Claire, Peace from nervous suffering. New York: Signet Books, 1991.