Are you anxious? Anxiety wears many uniforms. It can show up as stress, or worry, or fear. It can be a constant feeling of worthlessness or an overwhelming sense of doom. Anxiety can bring on physical symptoms including stomach cramps, profuse perspiration, and headaches. Just about everyone experiences it at least occasionally, but for some it can become life-controlling, a battle each day just to focus beyond its deadly grip.
You are not a bad or defective person, if you are experiencing anxiety. Do you wonder “Why can’t I just be stronger?” or, “Why can’t I let it go?” Have you been told to, “Just snap out of it, it’s not that bad” only to feel worse than before? You may wonder if your faith is faulty or if you have done something that has caused God to turn His back on you. Maybe, you have tried to cope with your emotions with food, work, or some other distraction – finding none of those things offer more than temporary relief.
Peter offers us the inspired wisdom of God about anxious fears. I think he had learned these things because of his own feelings of anxiety. He dropped the ball more than once. He was an impulsive man, familiar with the ache of regret. Most notably, at the critical moment of Jesus’ trial, he failed Jesus, his fear causing him to swear that he did not even know Him. The Bible gives a glimpse of his despair, so deep that he wept bitterly and, even after the Resurrection, went back to his old occupation as a fisherman in Galilee. But, he healed and became a powerful leader of the Church. So, what did Peter learn from the Lord that he can teach us?
“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. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:6-9, NIV)
First, acknowledge that God is God and you are not. Of course we know that and yet many of us still try desperately to master our situations, to control all outcomes, to eliminate all uncertainty. The word that Peter used translated as “humble” for us is a word that means “to set aside pride, to take a low place, to act in an unassuming manner, to become plain.” Please note that this humility is not the same as deciding to be a worthless person. It is a humility before the Lord, that focuses on His majesty and power.
Then, throw the things that cause you to anxious on His shoulders. God offers His hand to you, He knows where you are, what you feel. He knows what is real and what is the result of exaggerated fear. Yet, He cares! He will not give up on you or become frustrated by you. Jesus says “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)
Next, Peter reminds us that anxiety needs to be met with Spirit-empowered choices: be self-controlled and aware! Anxiety can make a person feel such desperation, he will do almost anything in the pursuit of relief. The person who kneels in the Presence of God, who waits in faith, who invites the Lord to help him carry the weight – can find the ability to recognize the temptations for what they are and to reject them. It’s not always an easy choice, but with God in you, it is possible. Peter learned the hard way that when fear is raging the Evil One looks for opportunities to exploit it. But, God’s people are not victims, prey to be devoured! They are equipped to stand.
And so, Peter counsels us to remain in faith and to remember our trials are not unique or unusual. It has been said that God’s Church is not a museum of saints but rather a hospital for sinners. We are a fellowship that are to carry one another’s burdens, to be available to one another with love, gentle support, and powerful prayer.
Feeling anxiety? Be it just a touch of worry or a terrible storm, the wisdom of the Word is true. Ask for faith to be strengthened to receive it, to live it, today. “Be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith.” (1 Peter 5:6-9, The Message)
I’ve tried to win this war, I confess.
My hands are weary, I need Your rest.
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight,
No matter what I face, You’re by my side.
When You don’t move the mountains,
I’m needing You to move.
When You don’t part the waters,
I wish I could walk through.
When You don’t give the answers,
As I cry out to You.
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!
Truth is- You know what tomorrow brings.
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen.
So, in all things, be my life and breath.
I want what You want, Lord, and nothing less.
You are my strength and comfort,
You are my steady hand.
You are my firm foundation,
The Rock on which I stand.
Your ways are always higher,
Your plans are always good.
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood.
Trust In You
Lauren Ashley Daigle | Michael Farren | Paul Mabury
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