Anxiety is a growing problem that people in our families and church communities are facing in greater numbers. It is important, now more than ever that we get clarity and equipping on this battleground in more dynamic ways.
Im not just talking about having more sermons on the subject, although that can help. We need to move further than just quick prayers or pep rally sermons. We need to get to the deeper dimension as to why people are more anxious than ever before.
It is my firm belief that we need to talk more about anxiety in our fellowships and here are some reasons why.
1. Many people you know are struggling in silence.
A large percentage of people around you are struggling with anxiety in silence. Many others have yet to even recognize how much anxiety is affecting them. More and more parents are startled to realize their children are struggling and have been struggling with anxiety for a while.
The majority, yes, the majority of people walking into your church on the weekends are battling issues of the heart and mind that are deeply troubling them. They walk in subconsciously thinking, “I hope I get some encouragement and peace today.” Many of those battles of the mind have anxiety wrapped around it.
Although a Sunday morning message is not going to solve everything, a culture that becomes more aware of anxiety and how to really overcome it is something every Christian should be aware of.
Kids are battling it. The numbers of teens with anxiety is increasing. Some battle anxiety so deeply for so long, they do not even realize that they can be free and there is a better way available.
2. Anxiety shows the increasing work of fear in the land.
Jesus warned us in Luke 21:26 that men’s heart would begin to fail them because of fear. The influence of fear will increase and this includes anxiety. The attack of it will not go away. But this does not mean anxiety needs to increase in the hearts and minds of the people of God.
Fear and anxiety will continued to increase, but the power and boldness of the body of Christ needs to have a greater increase.
3. Psychiatric diagnosis is increasing, as people try to figure out, “what is wrong with me?”
Anxiety disorders are higher in North America than anywhere else. In the United States, it effects at least 40-million Americans. And that is only people that are actually going and receiving a diagnosis. How many more are battling and have never gone for help?
4. Anxiety Is the most common mental health problem.
Around one quarter of the United States population has a diagnosable mental health issue.Of all the battlegrounds in mental health that people face, anxiety is at the top of the list. It is also connected to other mental health and even physical health issues.
5. The need to address mental health is important for everyone.
I find when talking to many people about living in mental and emotional health, too many Christians slap cliches on the subject or ignorantly judge this arena without understanding the depth of what people are facing.
Sometimes even bringing up the term mental health can lead people to dismiss the subject. When in reality, everyone needs to grow in what it means to be mentally and emotionally healthy.
The Bible is actually rich with truth, revelation and insight that can equip us to live in the power of mental health and overcome battles like anxiety. But are we making personal mental and emotional health a priority?
Pastors, are you more concerned about the output of your staff than the overall health of the people you lead? Parents, are you moving along at light speed without a sense of how your children are doing in their day to day journey?
6. There is an increased use of medical treatment for anxiety.
People are seeking more medical attention than ever before and anxiety is a top issue. In fact, around 30% of patients coming to emergency rooms with chest pains are actually having anxiety attacks. People often don’t see the signals until it is really intense.
Rarely do I have someone contact me for personal session help with anxiety until they are close to or surpassing panic attack levels.
7. Chronic stress and anxiety will contribute to the body’s vulnerability to illness.
Anxiety taps into your fight or flight system, which over time, will take a toll on your physical health. That constant “hum” of stress, pressure and anxiety that buzzes around people continually is the problem.
Over time, anxiety can have a major effect on many parts of your body. It is known that heavy stress, anxiety and chronic worry can negatively affect the following body systems.
- Cardiovascular System Issues: including high blood pressure, heart attacks and heart disease. In one example, post-Menopausal panic attacks triple the risk of cardiac deaths in women.
- Respiratory Issues
- Immune System Suppression: where there is a compromise in the immune system, leading to an inability to fight off viruses, cancer and other foreign invaders.
- Hypersensitive Immune System: which increased allergies
- Overactive Immune System: which can include autoimmune disorders
- Gastrointestinal Issues: such as IBS, Acid reflux, hiatal hernia and more.
- Weight gain, weight retention
- Chronic fatigue, burnout, weakened stress response. Most people that walk into your churches are tired, stressed out and weary.
- Skin Issues
- Reproductive System Problems
8. Society falls into addictions to cope with anxiety.
With an increase of anxiety and little coping skills, people run to addictions to ease or numb the pain. With an increase of anxiety in a culture, alcohol use also rises. It is also a known stat that when stressful times arise in a country, there becomes an influx in attendance to movie theatres and bars.
Legal and illegal drug use increases. Pornography addictions increase. Other people respond to anxiety by social acceptable addictions like workaholism.
Whatever the addiction is, we attempt to heal anxiety by numbing it.
9.Suicide battles and attempts increase with anxiety disorders:
With anxiety in the mix, suicidal ideations increase dramatically. Almost half of people with anxiety disorders also have depression, which left unchecked, can lead to a myriad of problems.
10.The church should be greatly equipped to help people address and become free from anxiety disorders.
I believe the home and the church of Jesus Christ should be the greatest places to get real with our struggles and find true hope to get victory. We need more than just quick prayers, though prayer is important. We need equipping to renew our minds and lives into an empowered lifestyle.
I think it starts with parents and church leaders coming to terms with their own battles with anxiety, so we can walk with others in greater compassion and authenticity. I know the first time I shared my journey of overcoming, it gave many permission to cast off their shame.
Don’t be intimidated to talk about anxiety, just because you don’t have a PHD or you are not a license counselor. But when you do talk about it, don’t demean the issue. Don’t just preach at people and tell them to “get over it.” Talk from a place of compassion and understanding.
You also may need to get in touch with your own fear-based issues and it will help you to see with greater perspective.
Teach people to overcome by sharing your own overcoming journey. Celebrate when people face their anxiety and take steps to overcome.
My recommended first step? Get a hold of I Will Not Fear and begin equipping your family and even your church to address anxiety in a powerful way.
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