Emotional Suffering

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back from captivity..." Jeremiah 29:11-14

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Many emotional problems fall into a "Do It Yourself" category. Unless the problems are extreme, you can attack them yourself. Many times Christians can alleviate most of these problems by making a sincere effort to follow the Bible's guidelines for living a Christian lifestyle. However, if you are suffering from extreme anxiety, grief, anger or mood disorder (clinical depression), these problems usually cannot be self-corrected. You need help from a professional. Drug therapy and/or "talk therapy" are often necessary treatments for these types of problems.

If you or someone close to you is attempting to overcome emotional problems, please look first at the possibility of a physical basis for the symptoms. Do not hesitate getting a thorough doctor's examination.

Take over responsibility for your own life.

Too many conscientious, caring, hard-working people let circumstances or other people dominate their lives. They have a need for approval by others, a strong desire for recognition, and they go to great lengths to please others. The result is loss of control, frustration, overwork, and the term we use so often nowadays - "burnout". When too many outside forces begin to take over your time, react by cutting back on commitments. You'll be healthier and happier in the long run. This kind of self-help is also good for people in the midst of financial problems. Taking control of your income and credit are essential steps in relieving pressure. It might seem impossible for you to cut those credit cards in half, but in the long run it could save you from anxiety attacks, a broken marriage, or a heart condition. Look ahead several years, not just a month of two.

When things get tough, don't always hold your emotions in.

This advice is particularly helpful for men. Some interesting studies show that beneficial chemicals actually enter the body when a person cries. Whether or not this is true, the act of releasing emotions through tears is basically healthy. There are times, under the right conditions, when a good cry is the best medicine. Jesus wept too!

Reduce self-criticism.

We are often too hard on ourselves. When we live in fear that we will fail at something, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We do not live up to our own expectations, and after years of hunkering down in that rut, we lose confidence in ourselves.

Don't live with guilt.

Put past (forgiven and forgotten) sins out of your mind. I am amazed at how many people carry around old bags of guilt. While some acts should produce legitimate guilt, even that kind of guilt has limits. Christians are told over and over in the Bible that God is able to forgive and forget even the worst of mankind's sin. If Christians truly believe that, they should begin unpacking guilt to lighten their load. What old sins hang around your neck? How often do you call them to mind? Do they affect your relationship to others? Do you worry about them? Do they hamper your daily activities? The God-man, Jesus, has taken those sins on Himself, and in God's divine justice, He has paid for all of those sins. He tells His followers that they can simply ask for forgiveness and then cast their burdens on Him!

Pray.

Christians have safety valves that help maintain emotional health. We can pray with the assurance that God hears. We can also meditate. These activities are excellent for focusing our thoughts away from personal problems and onto bigger and higher realities.

 


Grow in Godliness

Teachings on:
Anger
Anxiety and fear
Bitterness/Resentment
Depression
Eating disorders
Forgiveness
Grief
Guilt
Loneliness
Marital problems
Pastor "burn-out"
Schizophrenia
Sexual disorders
Stress
Substance abuse
Suicide

 


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Let me share a psychiatrist's own personal secret for dealing with emotional stressors. I write letters. I have written letters to patients, relatives, other doctors, and even to God Himself. I lay my soul bare in the letters... And then I tear them up.

There's something about committing your feelings to paper that helps you organize your thoughts. It also puts your problem into a visible format. As you write, you must spend time wrestling with words. You need to pick the right terms. You need to gauge the strength of the language you use.

My letters to God aren't theological masterpieces. Sometimes they look like the Psalms in the Bible that call down God's wrath on the wicked. Sometimes they just look like juvenile sob stories. I know that the content isn't outstanding, but they are honest, and the emotional hurts that I deal with are very real to me. When I finish a letter, I can lay it on the table in front of me and turn over its contents to a God who cares and understands. Jesus knows more about emotional hurt than I will ever encounter in a lifetime. He has been all the way down that road.

Usually I tear up the letters and throw them away. Only once or twice have I actually sent one. I have saved a few in my personal files so I can look back and remember where I was when I wrote them.