Last week, I explained the importance of treating our entire self–body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Last week’s message was about treating the body. This week, I want to talk about treating the soul.
What is the soul? It is that part of us that thinks, remembers and makes decisions. Our soul experiences emotions, memories and fear. The definition of “soul” often taught in churches is the “mind, will and emotions.”
So, how do you treat the soul? If there is one area that counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists have excelled in treating panic attacks, it is the area of the soul. Treatments like Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Therapy have done wonders for people battling anxiety and panic.
To treat the soul, we must start by changing the way we think. Somewhere in our past, a bad experience, tragic event or trauma to the soul has corrupted our thinking process. Dealing with everyday thoughts has become a challenge. We feed the fear with more fearful thoughts, triggering the body to respond. The cycle is vicious.
First, the mind. The Bible says in Romans 12:2 that we should “not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” This is a powerful truth. The patterns of this world speak an ungodly message–the deceit, despair and infidelity of a soap opera; the murders, shootings and corruption revealed in the evening news; the lust, lies and unrealistic ideals of a beer commercial. What is going into your mind?
Don’t conform to the patterns of this world. Rather, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Through prayer, worship, Bible study and time alone with God, you can renew your mind. And, it’s not a one-time thing–it’s a daily experience. We need to daily experience God in refreshing ways. We need to make that heavenly connection.
Next, the will. Choosing how to respond to the onslaught of fearful thoughts directly involves our will.
I think about Jesus in the garden of Gethsamane when he was faced with fearful thoughts. I can’t even imagine what must have been going through his mind. He knew the kind of tortuous death that awaited him. He even prayed three times for God to show him another way–another way to restore man’s relationship with God. Yet, he ended his prayer with this: “Lord, not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22;42). He chose not to respond to the fear, but rather to God.
Finally, the emotions. I’ve heard people say, “Well, God never wants us to be emotional about things.” I don’t believe that. God has emotions–anger, joy, frustration, happiness, sadness, excitement. God is an emotional God, and we are created in his image (Genesis 1:26). I think the problem is when our emotions get the best of us. We should control our emotions, not let them control us.
One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23), and when emotions rise up within us, taking control of our soul, we need to cry out to God for strength to manage our emotions. Yes, we can experience emotions. They are the spice of life. But when they control us, that spice quickly becomes bitter.
Treating the soul is very important in treating anxiety and panic attacks. I encourage you find ways to address each of the areas described in this message. Ask God for wisdom on how to renew your mind, respond to his will and regulate your emotions. In doing so, you will bring Godly balance into your life.
Prayer: Father, you created us to have a soul–a mind, a will, emotions. And when you created us, you said it was good. Our mind is good. Our will is good. Our emotions are good. Lord, help us renew our mind and heal our emotions.