Some of you may have noticed that I have not posted a new blog in many months. This is because I have had some health issues that needed my full attention for a time. I’m happy to say that I am fully on the mend, and so am able to pick back up with sharing with you. As a reminder, these blogs form a collection of my reflections from the Scriptures related to caring for loved ones who live with mental illness.
Wouldn’t you know it! As if caring for our loved ones doesn’t stir up enough fear on its own, here comes COVID-19, isolation, job losses, economic uncertainty, political chaos and civil unrest. So, in addition to worrying about our loved ones’ medication compliance, suicidal ideations or agitated outbursts we also fear what kind of a future is ahead of us.
How do we get on top of such anxiety?
The Scriptures offer plenty of ideas that we know well, such as:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
“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.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
However, the one verse I have focused on lately is, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
What is the opposite of fear? Peace? Confidence? Courage? All fit, I think. But in 2 Timothy we are given a different perspective. First we are reminded that God is not the one who gives us a spirit of fear. Instead, He is the one who gives us a spirit of power. A spirit of love. A spirit of sound mind.
Fear immobilizes these very things that we need most in times of chaos and confusion: Without power we are paralyzed, unable to take action. Without love we stand in a posture of self-protection and self-absorption. And without a sound mind, well, we’ve seen the fruit of that in our loved ones’ struggles.
In 1 John 4:18 we’re told that “perfect love casts out fear.” To overcome fear we must immerse ourselves in the love of God. Let it wash through us. Recognize His care for us. Trust His protection of us. Count on His goodness toward us.
Our faith in His love can be strengthened in many ways: singing/listening to hymns or worship songs, reading Psalms, praying “The Lord’s Prayer” daily, being still and reflecting on Him, writing out prayers in a journal, saying aloud Psalm 23 over and over, recalling all the ways God has carried us in the past, talking with a friend of faith.
As we become reassured of God’s love, we can reject a spirit of fear. Then we can embrace the power we need to carry on. We can absorb the love we need to care selflessly for others. And we can think clearly, wisely and humbly.