Anxiety and your health: Family


Anxiety and your health: Family


Sunday, October 27, 2019

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WHILE anxiety affects health, not all anxiety is bad.

An exam, a job interview, a performance, or even an excursion may occasion anxiety. In fact, in the face of harm, a rush of adrenaline creates a fight or flight mode that may save our lives.

However, extreme or constant anxiety is where the danger lies. Even prolonged mild anxiety may shave years off our lives, according to the British Medical Journal online. A study examined 68,000 adults over 35 and concluded that those with the highest levels of psychological distress stood a 41 per cent chance to die cancer-related deaths. Appropriately, Jesus asks: “Who of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life span” (Matthew 6:27)?

But while anxiety about self is one thing, anxiety about family is another.

A parent may go to bed hungry. That in itself occasions anxiety, but the anxiety is quite different in a father or mother who, because of failing to provide for the child, causes the little one to go to bed hungry. Consider, also, a wife and children abandoned by a father for another woman? And what of the constant worry for the children's future amidst so much unwholesome influence everywhere?

Having to handle new family responsibilities can be a crushing weight. In the case of a wife and children a man leaves, she bears the guilt of not providing adequately, wondering how others will judge her, while grappling with feelings of guilt and worthlessness over whether or not she contributed to the man leaving.

Emotional anxiety over family rages loudest at nights when things are at their quietest. The apostle Paul gives a comforting reminder, an antidote to fill the void of anxiety. He encourages: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Spend your waking nights praying and feel the peace of God at work in you! Ask God for direction and help where your family is concerned, confident that he will reward your faith. And while “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8), it builds our faith when we do, “for those who approach God must believe that he is, and that he rewards those earnestly seeking him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Jesus taught us to “always pray and never give up” (Luke 18:1), for God is, in the spirit of Psalm 65:2, “the Hearer of prayer”.

As you pray, read his word and meditate on it! Dwell on positive things and act in a similar manner. Set a good example for your children! Monitor their progress! Yes, “train up a child in the way he should go. And even when he grows old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Build your faith through the four forms of prayer and encourage your family to pray, praying with them even! Three are cited above. The other, praise, just like thanksgiving, is at times neglected in favour of petition and supplication (pouring out our hearts in a manner often accompanied by tears).

Remember to thank God and praise him for where he has brought your family so far, while begging and crying out to him for where you envision your family to be. Supplication works. Hannah, one of the wives of Elkanah, was taunted for her barrenness by Peninnah, the second wife.

The account tells us, “In her bitter distress, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears” (1 Samuel 1:10). She was favourably heard and came to be with child. A miracle! Even God may alter his course of action where we are concerned when we cry to him.

Hezekiah the king became mortally ill and God, through Isaiah, the prophet, told him “to put his house in order for he is about to die”. What did Hezekiah do? “He turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord… And Hezekiah wept bitterly,” says Isaiah 38:2. Immediately, word came to Isaiah from God to return and inform Hezekiah that 15 more years would be added to his life.

Tears sometimes act as a catharsis and must never be pent up. Much like a bottle of soda, little by little, letting out pent up emotions may settle us or make us less agitated.

Do good and your best, and allow the guiding hands of God to direct your family in these dark days.

Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

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