I don't know about you, but those words make my heart stop for a moment. Nobody uses those words unless they are about to say something that could, in fact, freak me out.
Jesus starts a conversation in a similar this way with His disciples...
Let not your heart be troubled...
He is about to tell them that the man they have devoted their lives to following is going to die and there is nothing they can do about it. If I was one of those disciples, I can't imagine my heart not being troubled at that moment, as well as in the moments to come. Yet that's what Jesus says. And in doing so, makes a point to say that they have a choice in how they handle what's to come.
It's clear from the conversation that they don't quite understand. Where is He going? Why can't they go? How do they follow Him if they don't know the way? But he tells them again...
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Jesus knew that if they looked only at what they were seeing, they wouldn't be able to help but feel discouraged, depressed, and scared. He knew that once they let those feelings set in, they would start to doubt the truths He had taught them over the years.
Have you ever been so sad and depressed that you started wondering if God existed? Or, if He did, that He could really love you at all?
Where would we be today if the disciples had given in to those feelings? Jesus knew that they were about to watch Him be unjustly beaten, tortured, and crucified. He also knew that the whole existence of Christianity could hinge on the feelings of His disciples if they gave in to their despair at His death... so He clued them to the fact that they had a choice in how they handled their emotions.
The good news is, we do too. He even tells us how to do it.
Believe in God; believe also in me.
Faith. He's telling them and us to believe in the truths He has taught before this. Don't believe what you see over what you already know. Believe that God has the final word on your circumstances. Believe that He sees you and knows you and wants only good for you. Believe that you have authority over the darkness that tries to overtake you.
That's the first step. Faith.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
He also tells them that He is sending the Holy Spirit to help them with this. The Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance the things Jesus had already taught them that were contrary to what they were feeling as well as teach them new things.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you guide your thoughts away from your pain and fear and towards the things God wants you to focus on. More likely than not, you'll find that the things He wants you to focus on have nothing to do with your life and circumstances at all.
The Holy Spirit WILL help.
Some will read this and say, "She obviously doesn't understand anxiety or depression." Believe me, I understand all too well. I suffered from both for years.
Officially diagnosed in 2002, I spent a lot of time on and off of anti-depressants and in and out of hopelessness. I still have bad days from time to time. But now I can look at those bad days and see where I could have chosen to make the day better.
When I blamed others' actions or my own circumstances for my depression and anxiety, I felt helpless. This caused even more depression and anxiety. But now, each time I recognize it and accept my ability to control my feelings, I am empowered. Even when the recognition comes in hindsight, I know that I'll get another chance to let not my heart be troubled... and in doing so, will be able to show others that they can break free from this too!
This topic is so much deeper than one blog post can cover. Accepting that you have authority over your emotions is difficult... but it is important if you want to get better. Please know that even if you aren't ready to accept what I'm saying... You can be free. You can be healthy. You can be whole. It won't be easy, but starts with making a choice to find your way.
Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.