JUPITER, Fla. (BP) – The beginning of what promises to be a contentious political season isn’t very reassuring for those concerned with a rise in anxiety. Ninety percent of the public feels there is a mental health crisis, as shown by the need to bring in reserves to meet the demand for mental health care.
Author, podcaster and radio host Brant Hansen understands the concern, but also the need to acknowledge the role of a growing relationship with Christ as the solution.
“Discipleship makes sense,” Hansen recently told Baptist Press. “Doing the stuff Jesus said to do results in being a different kind of person. It’s an ongoing process for all of us, but one I’ve really learned from in the last three to four years.”
Hansen’s latest book, “Life is Hard, God is Good, Let’s Dance,” became available Jan. 16. It centers on the concept of joy. Despite circumstances, a deep sense of well-being is not only possible but promised for those who follow Christ.
“I think a lot of people aren’t told about the Kingdom of God, even though it’s Jesus’ No. 1 topic,” he said. “It’s so compelling and beautiful, that it drives this sense of well-being, regardless of circumstances. … Being absent from it, we’re just cast about by the next thing.”
“The Brant Hansen Show” airs on radio stations throughout the country while his podcast, “The Brant and Sherri Oddcast,” has more than 15 million downloads. Christian Music Broadcasters has named him “Personality of the Year” multiple times. Christian Voice Magazine called him “Christian music’s most beloved radio personality.”
That’s a lot of accolades. However, Hansen’s perspective doesn’t come from a place of success or where everything came easy.
Maybe you’d expect a lot of drip to go with being the president of the Illinois Student Librarians Association while in high school, but you would be wrong. Then later as an adult, a difficulty to focus led to a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum. The rough patches shaped him and led toward involvement with CURE International Children’s Hospitals as well as opportunities to show how the Gospel is fit for addressing every area of life.
“We need to be drawing on Jesus’ well and leaning into our partnership with God and not be driven by the latest anxiety,” he said. “It’s not that those issues causing the anxiety don’t matter, of course they do. But consider Paul, writing from prison, telling the Philippians to be anxious for nothing. He’s singing joyful songs and writing joyful letters while telling them about threats to their families or being executed.
“Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He’s done, and then the peace of Christ will guard your heart.”
Those lessons became clearer to him following the pandemic.
“Everyone, Christian too, can become sick with anxiety,” he said. “That doesn’t really compute because we’re supposed to be the people who are weirdly hopeful. We’re supposed to have a reason to stand out and make people ask us why we’re different.”
That difference includes how we see others. A year ago Hansen went on Good Morning America as part of GMA’s “Faith Friday” series to discuss the topic of forgiveness and his re-released book “Unoffendable.”
A culture steeped in anger often looks for reasons to be angry, he pointed out. Forgiveness is the key to working through it.
“You can scroll [online] for 10 seconds and find 15 things to be angry about, legitimately. These aren’t small things … or things people have done to you, so I’m not talking about glossing over things that have happened. But whether or not you want to stay angry for the rest of your life is up to you. Your ticket out of this is to let go of your anger.
“… God has forgiven me,” he said, explaining his perspective as one who follows Jesus. “I have to extend that to other people. It doesn’t make what they did OK, but I’m not going to live with this anger for the rest of my life or it will destroy me.”
Responding that way is going to take daily discipline and the conscious choice to follow that path.
“You can be completely informed about the world – the brokenness of man, about the violence and everything happening – and still be at peace,” he told BP. “That’s going to require some choices on your part. It’s going to mean becoming a different type of person who pays attention to different things.
“I’m advocating for us to become aware of our thoughts, then arresting them and correcting them, just like the writer of Lamentations, Jeremiah. He’s lamenting everything falling apart around him, but then saying he has hope.
“Because of the Lord’s great love for us, we are not consumed. His faith endures forever. His mercies are new every morning.”