Series Introduction

When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If we can inspire, help, equip or challenge people to just LET IT GO, we can change our overall well-being in life.

  • What is your favorite activity to do in the fall with your family and friends?


Sermon Introduction

The OC Register reported that here in the West we are healthy, affluent, and have a great sense of freedom, yet levels of anxiety and depression have risen 20 percent! Nearly one-third of adolescents and adults struggle with anxiety.

For many of us, our lives didn’t turn out the way we hoped they would. In the midst of our health and affluence, something has happened to us that is turning our emotions inside out. We find ourselves depressed and anxious, and we don’t know why.

  • How do the statistics in the Register resonate (or not) with the people you encounter at work, in your neighborhood, at the gym, and among your friends and family?


Understanding

Have someone read Genesis 29:14-30.

Jacob longs for Rachel but is deceived by Laban into marrying Leah. This deceit creates a web of lies, rejection, and heartache for everyone.

At one time in our life each of us has thought “If I could just have that man or woman, my life would be fulfilled!” Earnest Becker said that The Romantic Solution is “The belief that if we can find that one true love, all our feelings of insignificance, purposelessness, and meaninglessness will dissipate.”

This happens with more than relationships. We believe a job, a new car or a bigger house is the solution that will fill that hole in our souls. We all have an inner emptiness that says if I can find ______ then ________ will be gone or the problem will be solved. The abuse I suffered will no longer hurt me. The overwhelming sense of failure will disappear. We tell ourselves that if that thing happens, we will matter and not feel so alone anymore.

  • What are some of the things you have tried to fill an empty place with? What was the result?

Have someone read Genesis 29:31-35.

Leah lives in the shadow of her sister. She is referred to in the Bible as having weak eyes while Rachel was lovely.  That is painful to read because we’ve all felt like this before.  We look at our Instagram feed and fight feelings of envy or hopelessness.

Leah was chasing the same lies Jacob was, believing if he would love her things would be ok. We get a picture of how Leah is feeling through the names she gives to her sons.   We can sense her anxiety and longing. The names of her first three sons symbolize her emptiness and longing, but she names her fourth child Judah saying, ”Now I will praise the Lord!” Something had changed. Leah moved from searching to a sense of peace at where she was.

  • When is a time in your life when you’ve moved from a place of anxiety to a place where you had God’s peace?

No matter who you are or how good your life seems, apart from God there will always be disappointment.  There is a God-shaped void that only He can fill.  And when we turn to anything else to fill that void, whether good things like work or family or serving, or bad things like drugs or alcohol, you will always be let down when you discover that thing cannot ultimately satisfy.

Jesus is the only one who can satisfy. You were created for relationship with God, a real relationship that is full of passion, pursuit, intimacy, community, and a thirst for more. This weekend Pastor Jeff said “You cannot feel an eternal void by temporary means.  You will never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”

Have someone read Isaiah 55:8-9

Anxiety creeps in and overwhelms us when we think we know better than God how our lives should look.  The problem is that ultimately, we cannot control even our own lives.  Certainly, we influence what happens in our lives by the decisions we make, but you have no control over the circumstances you were born into and you certainly can’t keep yourself from dying.  You can raise your kids well, but you can’t make them be upstanding productive adults.  You can work hard, but the place you work might still close its doors.  We can influence, but we cannot control.

Part of combatting our anxiety is trusting that God is in control. We can live life to the fullest when we rely on Jesus.

When we live each day in God’s word, praying, pursuing intimacy with Him and seeking community, our lives will be transformed, not always because our circumstances are different but because we are different. It is possible to be in the absolute worst circumstances of your life and still be at peace and in the center of God’s will.

Sometimes God will even use difficult circumstances to draw us closer to Himself.  People often find God in the midst of their attempt to recover from an addiction, after losing a loved one, or after being laid off from a job.  When things are going well, we think we can do it on our own, but when the chips are down, we turn to God.

  • What is one time God used difficult circumstances in your life to draw you closer to Him?

Every time you gain that which you thought would save you, the hole in your heart just gets bigger. Sometimes God lets us have what we want, and we realize it isn’t going to satisfy us. Other times He strips those things away.

Nobody said this better than C.S. Lewis.

“Most people, if they learned how to look into their hearts would know that they want something that this world can never give them.  These are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning will ever satisfy.  There is always something that we have grasped at that first moment of longing that just fades away with reality.  The thing we thought we were going to get in the new experience always evades us.” –C.S. Lewis

  • Who in your life needs help dealing with anxiety, and how can you come alongside them and support them?

End your discussion time by reading Psalm 63:1-3 together.


Prayer

Break into groups of two or three and spend time in prayer.

Leah took the most passionate desires of her heart and put them on the Lord.  Share something in your life that is causing you anxiety and that you need to let go of and give to God.


Application

If you find yourself struggling with anxiety, consider joining one of our Care and Recovery groups that are designed to help you work through difficult seasons of life.