Recently, I was on the phone with a good friend. He lives in one of the nicest places in the United States. His city is rated in the top 20 best places to live in the US. It is also rated as one of the healthiest places to live with some of the most active and fit residents in the nation.
As we visited, he related to me a recent situation about someone he knows. This person recently had a kind of emotional and mental breakdown as life just overwhelmed them. The local hospital was called and to his amazement, get this, they had to drive this person over 100 miles away to find an available bed on the mental health floor of a hospital!!
To give some perspective, he lives in a fantastic city with great hospitals there. Just 60 miles south of his city is a huge metropolis with many hospitals there and many in between. Yet, in trying to find one open bed on the mental health floor, they had to drive out of his city, past many other cities, past the huge metropolis city, to find a bed over 100 miles from where they lived. This is not in any way, shape, or form a remote area. I was shocked. Stunned! This entire state brags about their quality of life, yet below the surface lies an untold story and I see it playing out all over the country. We have unprecedented levels of mentally and emotionally struggling people who are filled with anxieties and are desperately trying to keep their head above water. Many are barely getting by! We are now the most medicated society and generation that has ever lived!
As a pastor for over 31 years, I have to tell you that I have often observed this same thing among those that attended my church. I have often observed many Christians struggling greatly with weighty emotional struggles and great anxieties tearing them apart inside. Please don’t misunderstand me. I have great, great empathy, compassion, and concern for people who are struggling with these things.So does God. That is one reason why I am writing this article.
Let me first explain some of the contributing factors of our modern age. Many people who are just beginning families for the first time, grew up in very broken and dysfunctional families themselves. They did not have a solid, stable, loving Christian home as they grew up through their formative years. Many had their lives scarred, torn, and traumatized by the divorce of their parents and the dysfunction they experienced as they grew up. This leaves lasting scars and brings unintended consequences on young people who have had to go through that as a child.
Then there are the constant, non-stop notifications to your smartphone alerting you to every kind of crazy thing going on in the world. We are a 24/7 culture, and every single bad thing that is going on in the world, it seems, is being piped into your phone onto your screen and it can feel like the world is falling apart every single day. That danger is lurking around every corner. The news people on TV do this deliberately to achieve greater ratings and as a way to scare the population into a particular point of view, to control and manipulate the population. As an example, climate change, or what used to be called global warming. We are scaring our little children at school. In fact, in a recent survey, many young people stated they will not have children of their own to help stave off climate change. Many stated they worry about it every single day! It is often cited as their number one worry. The drumbeat of this pernicious lie is incessant.
Then there is just the day to day struggles and stresses of life – paying bills, dealing with your spouse, dealing with your kids, dealing with the relationship challenges that come up at work, or the work politics, or the personal trials and difficulties of our own lives. Maybe it is a great loss you have recently suffered, or severe disappointments, or your unrealistic expectations of life, or your fear-based view of life. Whatever the case may be, I have seen this as one of the greatest needs among the people I pastored over the last 3 decades.
It was 1983 on a cold wintery day outside, the temp hovering around 10 degrees. I had just gotten home from a long day at work and stepped into our trailer. I was taking my coat off and Kathy and I began to have a conversation. It didn’t take long for the conversation to become heated. I had been working hard on my temper, my emotions, and controlling my mouth. I could feel my temperature starting to rise, and strong emotions starting to build, almost up to my mouth!! I looked at Kathy and said, “Kathy, I am starting to get angry, I don’t want to explode. I am going to go out right now and take a walk!” I grabbed my moon boots (yeah, those), I put on a stocking cap (which I never wear), and put on my coat, and stomped out of the trailer straight down into the deep, snow-covered woods by our house. I walked down near the frozen creek where no one could see me.
Inside I was furious and feeling overwhelmed. I was pacing back and forth wearing a path in the snow. I was so frustrated, so upset, and so sick and tired of this junk. At this point, I am not saying anything out loud, but my mind is racing. Thoughts, raw, unpleasant, messy thoughts, are running through my head. Suddenly, I grabbed a long branch, I broke it across a tree, and bam, it broke in half and came flying back at me. I ducked and it just missed my face! (I advise never doing that!)
The dam of my emotions broke and it hit me, “God, you know all my thoughts as if I am already speaking them out loud. Therefore, I am just going to pour out my thoughts and emotions to you!!” So I did! For the next 30 minutes, I paced back and forth, dumping on God, pouring out every single thing I felt, every complaint, every frustration, every burden, every misery, every heavy thing that was weighing on my soul and making me so angry. I used whatever words came to my mind and my mouth. I did not try to self-edit my words, I simply dumped on God. It was a life-transforming time in my life. It altered the rest of my life and my spiritual and emotional journey with God and as a man. It was life-changing. Little did I realize then the unbelievable heartaches, challenges, burdens, trials, hurts, disappointments, worries and overwhelming things I would face in the coming 36 years! This newly discovered, newly practiced God Therapy changed, sustained, and saved me the rest of my life!
You see, dear friends, I did not realize it then, but I was doing exactly what the Bible/God teaches us to do!! Yet, I had never heard anyone ever talk about it! I was casting my burdens on the Lord in a real, tangible, meaningful, biblical way. I was pouring out my heart to God, I was dumping on God, I was pouring out my worries, my frustrations, my complaints, and my misery to my Wonderful Counselor!! For the last 36 years, this therapy, this God Therapy, has sustained me, changed me, kept me from losing my mind, from falling apart and being an emotionally broken, incapacitated, frustrated, permanently angry man.
I discovered what David knew, practiced, and wrote about in Psalms. I discovered what Jeremiah knew and wrote about in Jeremiah. I discovered what Elijah knew when he walked out into the desert with no food and no water and wanted to die, and God met him there and Elijah told God exactly what he felt and what was on his mind.
God can handle our emotions, our outbursts, our worries, our misery,
our frustrations, and the great burdens of our soul. If only we let him.
If only we dump them on him and pour out our heart and mind
through our words and feelings are spoken out loud to Him!
That is what it means to take refuge in God!
Most Christians have never heard this taught at church! Most Christians, have never been permitted to experience and to genuinely, authentically practice God Therapy. Stop with the sanitized prayers and get real with God! Most Christians do not know God as a Wonderful Counselor!
Look at this tremendous passage of scripture:
“Oh my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him,
for God is our refuge!!”
– Psalm 62:8
Do you see this?? Do you get this? We are the most honest with those we trust the most!! We share our secrets, our deepest fears, worries, heartaches, burdens, and troubles with those we trust the most! God is the safest, most trustworthy being in the universe. God is the only one who can handle the flood of our most raw emotions, the vitriol, the deep hurts, and burdens, worries, and miseries of our soul. God can handle anything we throw at Him or pour out to Him. We are instructed by God, we are invited by God, to come dump on Him!! That is what He intended, it is your birthright!! God is the greatest therapist that has ever been. He is a Wonderful Counselor!
Look at these words in Jeremiah 20. Jeremiah is overwhelmed by his troubles and the cruel, abusive, despicable ways people and friends are treating him.
In verses 14-18 (NLT) he says this, “Yet I curse the day I was born! May the day of my birth not be blessed. I curse the messenger who told my father, ‘good news-you have a son!’ Let him be destroyed like the cities of old that the Lord overthrew without mercy. Terrify him all day long with battle shouts for he did not kill me at birth. Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave. Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame!”
Oh man, do I relate to this passage. Do I ever! How many times I have gone to this passage and felt these same things!
Have you ever read this, as David describes to God what he is feeling?
Psalm 31:9, “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. My sight is blurred because of my tears. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years shortened with sadness. Misery has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.”
Psalm 142:1-3, “I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles. I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn.” Read the whole Psalm.
Men, do you see this? This is David talking, David the giant killer! David the fierce, ferocious, fighter and warrior! David was no doubt an Old Testament version of a Navy Seal or the most dominant UFC fighter. Yet, even the mighty warrior David knew the great burdens, sorrows, anxieties,fears and deeply emotional and mentally overwhelming anguish of life that demanded God Therapy!!
Men, I learned a long time ago- your wife can’t handle you! God can!! God, and only God can be God. God and only God possesses the unique, inexhaustible ability to handle all our emotional junk, our emotional pain, heartache, hurts, frustrations, sorrows, grieves, fears, anxieties, and anger. God can handle the anguish of our soul, if we pour it out on Him, and avail ourselves of God Therapy! God and only God is Almighty! God and only God is the Prince of Peace, the God of all Comfort.
I am telling you, as a man who has been through great trials, difficulties, injustices, heartache, grief, misery, overwhelming burdens, impossible circumstances, loss, sorrow, troubles, emotional torment and suffering, terrible abuse and ridicule, deep fears and anxieties, as a man of great passion and overwhelming emotions – GOD CAN HANDLE YOU, SUSTAIN YOU, QUIET YOUR HEART AND MIND, CALM YOU DOWN, AND BEAR YOUR MISERY. YOU MUST TALK TO HIM ABOUT THEM. IT DOES NO GOOD TO JUST THINK ABOUT THEM ALL!
Find a place, it might be your garage, it might be a park, someplace you can go and get the God therapy you need by pouring out, through your words, all the things weighing on your mind and emotions to the Living, Loving, Almighty God. I know you will find it to be life-transforming, and life-sustaining. Only when you cast your cares on God, will you experience God sustain you.
Please take the time to hear these messages on this vital topic as I know they will help you immensely.