We are living through some crazy times: pandemics, political unrest, we’ve even had Saharan Desert sand storms in the U.S. It’s no wonder so many of us feel overwhelmed and keep asking “what’s next?” When we’re backed against a wall, exhausted, and not sure who to trust we can easily fall into traps of despair. We’re going to use the HelpFinder Bible to find out what the Bible says about 5 common responses during times of confusion and pain. This is not an exhaustive study, but a good start to find out what God’s Word says about being angry, when we’re anxious, living in fear, dealing with grief, and how to respond when we are called to love those we don’t like.
Anger: Anger is a fire that burns and consumes—smoldering, flaming, at times white hot. Anger is passion. Of all emotions, it may well be the most passionate, for it has the power to fuel hatred and smother love. Anger itself is not necessarily bad; it is not necessarily wrong. God himself gets angry. What we need to consider is the object of our anger, the motive for our anger, and the outcome of our anger. Anger that is self-righteous, protects our pride, is self-centered, or demands its own way is dangerous. If allowed to continue unchecked, it will consume us. This kind of anger seeks harm and revenge; it seeks to destroy. Thus it can lead to bitterness and hatred, emotions that can cause violent behavior and obliterate compassion and forgiveness. God’s anger, however, is directed against sin and unrighteousness. He blazes hot against evil. His anger, like ours, becomes a consuming fire, but its focus is to eradicate the sin so that the sinner can be restored. Our anger often consumes others and even ourselves; God’s anger burns against evil and becomes a cleansing fire. The fires of our anger may aggravate our sinfulness and self-righteousness. His anger burns away sinfulness and allows the “gold” to emerge and make us fit for the Master’s use.
We all get angry at times, so what should we do about it?
• EPHESIANS 4:26-27 | And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Anger is like a skunk in the house. Don’t feed it to encourage it to stay. And carefully try to get rid of it as soon as possible.
• MATTHEW 5:21-23 | “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder.’. . . But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! . . . Go and be reconciled to that person.”
Confront those you are angry with in order to restore your relationship.
• 1 CORINTHIANS 13:5 | [Love] is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
Love is the mightiest weapon in overcoming anger.
• PROVERBS 11:29 | Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind.
• EPHESIANS 6:4 | Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.
To knowingly provoke your family to anger weakens the binding force—love—that bonds your family together. The control you seek actually enslaves you.
Anxiety: Pressures in our lives can build and pull us in different directions. These pressures pull against our sense of well-being, and anxiety begins to overwhelm us. Trying to do too much work with too little time or too few resources can stretch us beyond our capacity. Trying to cope with the financial demands of life without adequate income can make us begin to feel desperate. Difficulties in marital relationships, in parent-child relationships, or in work relationships can lead to deep anxiety and a sense of hopelessness. What is the answer? We need a perspective that comes from God. And we also need the help of wise counselors and friends who God can use to bring us his presence, wisdom, and hope.
What can I do when I’m overwhelmed by anxiety?
• 2 CORINTHIANS 4:9 | We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
Keep going! Knowing that God is by your side during times of anxiety can help you to keep from giving up.
• PSALM 55:22 | Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
• ISAIAH 41:10 | “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
• PSALM 62:2 | He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.
• JOHN 14:1 | “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”
• HEBREWS 2:18 | Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
• PHILIPPIANS 2:4 | Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
The first step in dealing with your anxiety is to bring it to the Lord. Only he brings true peace of heart and mind. God’s availability and promises provide effective stress reducers.
• 2 SAMUEL 22:7 | But in my distress I cried out to the Lord. . . . He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.
• PSALM 86:7 | I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.
Be persistent in prayer.
• MARK 6:31 | Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. Take time to slow down and take a break from pressure-packed situations.
• 1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20 | Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Take care of your body. Adequate rest, regular exercise, and proper nutrition are essential to dealing effectively with stress and anxiety.
• GALATIANS 6:9 | So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Don’t let stress and anxiety defeat you. When you are tired of doing good, it may be because you are just too tired.
Fear: Fears are real and natural, at times more real than that which we fear. Fears may leave us feeling unsettled and insecure, doubting our self-worth, having sleep problems or health problems, and worrying about how tomorrow will treat us. The issues that we want settled are simple—how do we avoid fear when we can, how do we live with it when we must, and what can we learn from it?
What can I do when I am overcome with fear? How do I find the strength to go on?
• PSALM 46:1-2 | God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
• JOHN 14:27 | “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. . . . So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
God promises to comfort us in our fear if we seek him when we are afraid. We have the confident assurance that he is with us in any circumstance.
• DEUTERONOMY 31:6 | “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Remind yourself that God is always with you. Your situation may be genuinely threatening, but God has not abandoned you, and he promises to stay with you. Even if your situation is so bad that it causes death, God has not left you but has instead ushered you into his very presence.
• EPHESIANS 1:3 | All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.
Remind yourself that no enemy or adversity can take away your most important blessings—the forgiveness God gave you for your sins, your relationship with him, and your eternal salvation. These remain secure even when your world falls apart.
• REVELATION 22:5 | And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.
Remind yourself that as a Christian, your destiny is victory! Present hardships and heartaches are temporary. You can go forward with the confidence that you are on the winning side.
• PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 | Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Pray with a thankful heart, asking God to give you what you need to deal with your fear. Peace is not the absence of fear but the conquest of fear. Peace is not running away but overcoming.
• 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 | For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Fear presents an opportunity for you to develop greater faith as you call upon the power of God to help you.
• GENESIS 26:7 | When the men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, he said, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife.”
• JOSHUA 17:16 | “But all the Canaanites in the lowlands have iron chariots. . . . They are too strong for us.”
Fear must not keep you from doing the things you know are right. You are not meant to live in fear.
Grief: Grief comes from suffering, discomfort, confusion, restlessness, pain, heartache, and usually with plenty of tears. Some grief, like losing a loved one, can be understood only by those who have walked that dark valley before. Grief is like a deep pit. It tortures our soul and robs us of the joy of living. But there is a great theme in the Bible—that although we walk through the valley of the shadow, there can be comfort and hope, as long as God is with us. He doesn’t spare us from grief in this life, but he does help us through it. And ultimately, he helps us overcome it for all eternity.
How do I deal with loss in my life?
• JOHN 11:35 | Then Jesus wept.
Don’t deny your loss. Great grief is the result of great love. The tears of Jesus at Lazarus’s death forever validate our tears of grief.
• GENESIS 50:3 | The Egyptians mourned [Jacob’s] death for seventy days.
Grief is a process that must not be denied or hurried. The rituals of wakes, visitations, funerals, and memorial services all help us move through the stages of grief.
• 2 SAMUEL 11:1 | In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab. . . . However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
For reasons not entirely known, King David gave up the active leadership of his troops. The loss may have created a vacuum in his life that he was seeking to fill with an immoral relationship with Bathsheba. As we grieve our losses we must be careful not to “medicate” our pain with that which will only create more pain.
• JOB 1:20-21 | Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. . . . He said, “. . . The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.”
Losses always bring pain. Recognizing and expressing that pain is not wrong or sinful, but rather it is a healthy expression of how God created us.
• HEBREWS 10:34 | You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.
It is important to allow yourself to grieve, but there comes a time for grieving to end. By serving God and others with all the energy and enthusiasm you can muster, you will begin to find healing. And as a Christian, you have the comfort of knowing that you will be with God forever in a place where all grief will be gone forever.
Love: A healthy definition of love is crucial to understanding the central message of the Bible. According to the Bible, love is not confined to sexuality, and it isn’t primarily a feeling either. The Bible teaches that love is a commitment. As a commitment, love is not dependent on good feelings but rather on a consistent and courageous decision to extend oneself for the well-being of another. That commitment then produces good feelings, not the other way around. Jesus became the perfect demonstration of God’s unconditional love for us by laying down his life for our benefit.
How can I love people I don’t even like?
• 1 JOHN 4:19 | We love each other because he loved us first.
As you reflect on God’s love for you and receive it for yourself, you will grow in your ability to love those you do not like.
• 1 PETER 4:8 | Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
Love is an act of spiritual maturity, based on the eternal significance of each person and on what God is doing in your life. When you learn to love the unlovable, you have developed the ability to see others as Jesus does.
• ROMANS 12:20 | “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.”
Even if you don’t like certain people, you can still choose to do tangible acts of love for them.
• ROMANS 12:3 | I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves.
Before you are too quick to dislike or dismiss someone, remember that you, too, have qualities that others may find unattractive.
• MATTHEW 5:43-44 | “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”
Only in Christ’s love can we love our enemies.