Anxiety is a word that I hear often. Just in the past few weeks, in numerous conversations, I either heard someone say they were anxious or that their kids or spouse suffered from extreme anxiety. While I am not a doctor and would never want to pretend to be, I would love to offer biblical help and Godly wisdom to anyone who suffers from the “chain of anxiety!”
I’m old enough to realize, and also have had enough professional advice to know, that many who suffer from anxiety have had it passed on to them from someone who was very close to them growing up and it would be called a “learned behavior.” What I mean by that is all they ever knew was to “worry” or “fret” over things. They lived in an environment of the “sky is about to fall.” I know people who love Jesus but I can tell they never learned and applied God’s word or accessed the Holy Spirit’s power to break the chain of anxiety!
In my own life, as a young adult I hated to fly. The experience of leaving our small children and getting on an airplane was so miserable. I did it some, but most of the time I would find a reason not to go. When I did go, the whole time leading up to the flight was miserable. The flight was miserable and the the trip was miserable because of the “dread” I experienced knowing there was a flight to get home. That awful feeling is what I think about when anyone speaks of anxiety or living with it.
God did not create us to live this way! That is the first thing I embraced and I would encourage others to embrace if they want to break this chain that stagnates life. The root of anxiety is fear. In order to kill anything that is living, you have to “kill” the root. 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
In order to cast out anxiety we have to examine our mind and retrain our thoughts. This is no easy task. Most of the time we get so busy in life, we don’t take the time to examine our thoughts. This has to be intentional just like deciding to exercise and get into great physical shape. In order to have a sound mind, it takes daily discipline. The one thing I can give personal testimony to is this: the intentional discipline of the mind in my life has given me a “ripped” mind just like the discipline of exercise “rips” the body.
The first thing I had to do when I realized I lived too anxiously was to ask myself this question: Who do I trust?
If I say I believe in God, do I really?
Do I truly trust Him with my life?
If the answer is yes, then I must come to a concrete realization that I can’t say I believe and not live it.
If I declare with my mouth “Jesus is Lord” and I say I believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, then I must walk this out in my life. I must start to daily live the Scripture, “Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast ALL YOUR ANXIETY on him because he cares for you,” (emphasis mine, 1 Peter 5:6).
It was a kick in my pants to realize “pride” was a part of my anxiety. Yep, I was living in the realm of actual control and a do-it-yourself mindset of “I know what is best,” instead of a “humble” reliance on God and deferring to His voice, which I was not still enough to hear.
After I repented and got over myself and the shock of my “pride,” which I was completely blind to, I had to dig deep and peel away all my “control” issues and get STILL often. We were never created to be in “control.” We were created to live in a humble reliance on God. When we invite Him to be Lord, He sends us our helper, His “Holy Spirit,” to direct our lives.
Reading and studying the books of John and Acts will empower anyone; it did me! “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things that these, because I am going to the Father.” This is Jesus speaking in John 14:12. Jesus goes on to say in verse 15 and following, “If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
To live in peace is to defer to God who has sent His Holy Spirit to indwell in me and you to lead and to guide us. There will be people all around that will reject this way of living (a life of faith and utter dependance on God and a life rejecting anxiety). But remember, it is a working out your salvation (all who have accepted Jesus as Savior are in process). It is a process of surrender.
You can be saved but surrender is a different thing. That is what it means by working out your salvation….a discipline of living your life in continual reliance on God and obeying His voice even when you don’t understand. Even when it doesn’t make sense to you or meet the human approval of those around you. You have to humble yourself and deny yourself. Battling the flesh will always be a fight on this earth but with God’s help, there is victory.
Beyond the study of John and Acts, studying the lives of the “Heroes of Faith” in Scripture to see what obeying and surrendering looks like and the outcomes has also been helpful. Noah, Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Abel, Joseph, Rahab, Joshua, Caleb, Gideon and Samson did not have lives free of things that could make you anxious, but they did not choose the feeling of fear. They rejected it and chose faith in God and His voice.
I love this, “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, OBEYED AND WENT, even though HE DID NOT KNOW WHERE he was going,” (emphasis mine, Hebrews 11:8).
I could write so much more…but I will stop here and just say–if you experience anxiety, it is normal to feel anxious but it shouldn’t control your life, your thinking, or overtake you and make you miserable. There is HOPE. YOU can have great victory and not lead an anxious life. We were not created to know or have all the answers…that is God’s job.
I had to get to a place of humility…and a more surrendered life …that led me to a life of peace and placed me on a road not free of hard things, but it did give me confidence and assurance that God’s got this. I just need to do what He says and watch HIM part the waters in my life…all the while knowing some of the tough things will make me stronger, increase my faith…and actually be exhilarating…because choosing to live this way…helps me to “walk on water.” It is truly God carrying me…the absolute most amazing way to live!
Let me end by encouraging you with quotes from two great men:
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
“I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize the Lord is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient.” ~ Hudson Taylor