God’s Word is the boss of me.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
When I’m afraid, I read that perfect love casts out fear.
I John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
And God is love. And God is in me.
I John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
There is no fear in love, and God is love. Therefore, there is no fear in God. And God is in me; therefore, there is no fear in me.
But how do I not fear? Fear is natural and automatic.
It comes down to what I accept as the truth. If the world I live in is what I accept as the truth, then fear is ok. But if the Word of God is what I accept as the truth, then fear is not ok.
II Timothy 1:7 NKJV
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Emotions aren’t wrong by themselves. God has emotions and He created us in His image (Gen. 1:27); therefore, we are emotional by design. But we are also fallen and His design has been corrupted. So we have to go to the uncorrupted Word of God to bring our emotions back to their original design.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Fear was not part of God’s original design for us. That came from the fall and from sin.
So, on the basis of the authority of God’s Word, I can command the fear to leave because His Word says it has to.
In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.
I have the authority of the Word of God to bind the strong man of fear and cast him out.
“But I have anxiety.”
“But I’m bipolar”
“But I have OCD.”
“It’s a medical thing, not a spiritual thing. I can’t help it.”
You’re right. Mental illness alters the brain and activates the systems that trigger a fear response. Adrenaline and cortisol are secreted into our veins and our body responds with an elevated heart rate.
My physical brain doesn’t care if the reaction isn’t logical. Mental illness doesn’t care if there’s no good reason to be afraid.
Mental illness doesn’t care if God Himself said I have no reason to fear.
So I have a choice. Who do I believe? Do I believe the mental illness?
My brain and my hormones are screaming at me and my mind is racing with thoughts of all the things that are wrong with the world, or my home, or – God forbid – my children!
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
When I’m in the middle of fear, I have a choice. Who do I believe?
I can choose to believe that the symptoms of fear that I’m feeling are not necessary and I can choose to fight them.
How do I fight the fear when I’m in the middle of it?
I quote God’s Word out loud. And I keep quoting it.
If I don’t know it by heart, then I pull out my phone and find it. If I have a physical Bible nearby, I pull it out. If I don’t know where the verses are that specifically speak about fear, I start with what I do know.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
The point of the exercise is to expose my emotions to God’s Word, because God’s Word is stronger than my emotions.
This is one reason why it’s a really good idea for me to be reading God’s Word every day. Sometimes I memorize verses; but most of the time, I’m just reading certain verses often enough (because I need them the most) that they start to stick in my memory naturally.
This is why I write this blog. Because I know how hard mental illness is. I know how hard it is to live my life when my own mind is my enemy.
And I know that what has worked for me – what has completely transformed my life – is immersing my mind in God’s Word.
I want to give you the verses that will help you when your mind isn’t playing fair.
Even if fear isn’t the emotion you’re struggling with today, filling your eyes and mind with God’s Word will still help you.
Start with the verses in front of you, whether or not they’re specific to your needs right now.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
What does that have to do with mental illness? Nothing, specifically. But it’s God’s Word and I need to start somewhere. God’s Word works, regardless. I just have to keep reading until I find what I need.
Just because I feel afraid doesn’t mean that I have to stay afraid. Just because I feel worried, doesn’t mean that I have to stay worried. Just because I feel inadequate or unworthy, doesn’t mean that I have to keep feeling that way.
God’s Word is the truth. I have the option to confront my emotions with God’s Word. If my emotions don’t line up with the Word of God, then I can use the Word to change them.
What emotions overwhelm you sometimes, and which scripture verses do you use to bring your mind back around to the truth?
Image credit: The Scream by Edvard Munch