"Sermonized" Blog SeriesDevotional

Christianity and Emotional Health

The following are notes from a lesson given by Dr. Garth Oliver, a primary care doctor for over 20 years and a member of the Southern CT Church of Christ.

Emotional Health

Our emotional health is not just a product of character but of our choices and circumstance. First world countries are having an epidemic of anxiety and depression. Men in particular are stressed and isolated and Christian men are systemically being undermined.

Matthew 26:35-39 NIV

26:36-46pp—Mk 14:32-42; Lk 22:40-46

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. [38] Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” [39] Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 

  • Surround with support
  • Seek Divine Intervention
  • Submit to the Spirit Will
  • See past the Challenge
  • Succeed through discipline

Editor thought: In a world were loneliness is so prevalent Jesus teaches us how to deal with emotional pain. The first thing Jesus does is go to pray, then he is vulnerable about how he feels, he then asks for their company and their support. Imagine if we all had this approach to dealing with emotionally challenging times?!

Study References:

  1. Endurance athletes have better emotional regulation – It is proven that regular exercise helps with emotional regulation.
  2. The fight or flight response also releases Oxytocin for bonding – This means that through stressful times we can actually find more connectivity and trust for each other. This is why many people bond so deeply through struggle and hardship.
  3. Social animals like dolphins show stress and depression just being separated from their pods, and primates from their tribes. This is evidence that one of the ways we are wired to combat depression and loneliness is to seek out our tribe. 
  4. Surrender is not defeat, pseudo control can be more stressful. Having the feeling of control can be more stressful and detrimental to our health than surrender and trusting God.

Hebrews 12:1-11 NIV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, [2] fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [3] Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [4] In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. [5] And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, [6] because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” [7] Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? [8] If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. [9] Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! [10] They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. [11] 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Relationship is both the goal and the means. Jesus endured for Good and for us and he did so by Good and by us. 

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