Tuesday, March 25, 2008

GOD GIVES HAPPINESS TOO

Christians are happy people. But a lot of people are not as anxieties and worries are rampant. This is due in part to pressures of a fast-paced life. Just yesterday in Science Today online is the story that "Youth's Social Problems Contribute To Anxiety And Depression".1 The solution seems simple to change the way we are living and raising our children. Now is when people need turn to God to receive His peace that "surpasses comprehension". When the worry is food, shelter, and clothing, Jesus says that worrying about these things is choice. Instead, we ought to "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33). How many people wake up in a gloomy disposition and stay there all day? Plenty. What they can have is God's peace and happiness. Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit is joy, love, and peace among other things (Gal. 5:22). Jesus offered, "Come all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28). The "rest" He gives alleviates these burdens if they will come to Him. Coming to Christ, they are not tired or weary (Isaiah 40:31). It's a fact, Christians are happy people.

The social science seems to bear out that religious people are happier than non-religious. A March 18, 2008 story on BBC online says that religious people are happier. "What we found was that religious people were experiencing current day rewards, rather than storing them up for the future" says one quote.2 Isn't that an interesting statement? When people have hope for the future, they are happier in the here and now. Christians enjoy a blessed state of mind even in the midst of trials.

But many people turn first to medicine. I'm not against the awesome work that pharmaceutical companies do; in fact, I'm a big fan. But many drugs are available to deal with depression and anxiety disorders, and the question is are they effective? Recent studies say that, by and large, no. Here's the story from the Times Online:
"The new generation of antidepressant drugs work no better than a placebo for the majority of patients with mild or even severe depression, comprehensive research of clinical trials has found."3
This news has got to be depressing to people. It's sad because a lot of people are depending on the medicine. And if it's true, they have a right to be mad. Now, according to the story, some people are helped. Some people apparently find some relief by taking the meds. I'm not sure what to make of it, but there are also studies to show that people are helped by placebos. One study on relief of pain from placebos found that a more expensive placebo was more effective than a less costly one.
A 10-cent pill doesn't kill pain as well as a $2.50 pill, even when they are identical placebos, according to a provocative study by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University.4
To say the least, there is much that is not known about the human mind. In the meantime, there are a lot of lonely, sad, anxious, fearful, angry, worried, and even suicidal people who are just learning that the drugs work no better than do the placebos. Worse yet, the drugs have side effects the placebos do not have.

The Apostle Paul says that God promises to give you peace that surpasses comprehension that will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Phil. 4:6ff. The word "peace" means "one, quietness, or rest" according to Strong's. This peace brings a serenity in the face of life's storms. Our world tries to explain every malady as a chemical imbalance, but surely God has some help for these things. Christians have the privilege and duty to tell of the happiness that is from God. To be frank, God is not getting the glory He deserves. For the blessed peace that God brings to my home and my life, in whatever circumstances, I give Him the glory. God knows the key to happiness and joy. Knowing God's promises and being able to cast our worries on Him is a source of true strength. The church is not in the drug business. We cannot help there. But the church is in the business of pointing people to "the God of peace", the true source of happiness and joy. Can you say "hallelujah". It means "let us praise God." Good News is cause to be happy and rejoice. The world is not able to give what God can give; that's the mission of God's people. We need to be encouraging people to read their Bibles, to pray, and to give thanks to Him because "He cares for you" (1 Pt. 5:7). Think about good stuff. Make the choice to focus your mind on positive things like the promises of God's salvation. Hang around godly people and find someone who you can confide in. Think on what is good, right, just, holy, and decent and pray to God about these things with thanksgiving. Read Philippians 4:6-10 and meditate on those words. To the Colossians said to "let the peace of God rule in your hearts" (Col. 3:15). This peace and joy are characteristic of people of God. Come to church and get involved. Look for a chance to serve and help someone and THEN give God the glory for what He does to your life. If you take the meds, do these things also. And when you feel better, give God the glory. God will bless you and make you happy.

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1. Youth's Social Problems Contribute To Anxiety And Depression
2. Religious People Happier
3. "Depression drugs don't work
4. Effectiveness of Placebos Depends on Price Perception

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