Beating the monster called – anxiety

the-cognitive-triangle-one-time-through3Do you ever feel the grip of anxiety? It is normal to feel some level of it before a big test or a job interview. A major life change makes most of us think some anxious thoughts. But, for some, too many, in fact, anxiety is a daily curse. For some it is a feeling of panic that paralyzes. For others, it is worry hangs on like a weight stealing energy that could make them more productive. For others, it shows up as a feeling of inadequacy that threatens to overwhelm. If you are one of those who wrestles with anxiety, know that it is not because you are weak or flawed in character. It is ‘just life’ for some but there are choices that can defeat those thoughts.

Psychologists speak of the cognitive behavioral triangle – Thoughts-Feelings-Behaviors. Changing what is in our mind will change the emotions we feel and that will lead to real changes in how we act! A good counselor is helpful because she can help a person to examine how he thinks, becoming aware of things not true, or exaggerated fears, or assumptions unsupported by facts.

Christians go a step further! God, by His Spirit, enters me and the Word informs me.  Paul points the way to ‘peace.’ “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:6-10, NIV)

How do we get control of anxiety?
First, we pray!
Real prayer is not a rote set of words we offer sleepily right before we go to bed. We engage our mind with God, we take our genuine concerns to Him. We ask for wisdom, insight, and provision.

Next, we give thanks!
Thankfulness elevates God in my mind. It helps me to see His work in my life.

Then, we redirect our thoughts!
A Psalm of praise helps reshape them.  It might be something as practical as turning all the stream of negative news that makes us feel as though the whole world is on fire. It may be actually speaking to ourselves to break a cycle of negative reactions. The Word says “you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

The ‘peace of God’ is real, but we must own it!  When we build our hope around money, reputation, or even the acceptance of other people – we will turn into unsettled, confused, and anxious people. We need not be terrible sinners to find the peace of God lost. We can lose it when we trust in things unable to hold us up.  There will be times, in every life, when fatigue comes after major effort, or when illness depletes us, or when many pressures come from all side, or when disappointment finds us and won’t let go. God is still God those times. Isaiah invites us to enter the promised peace of God. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)

The peace of which the Scripture speaks is a state of being.  “Shalom” is the Hebrew word. It is a word rich in meaning – about being whole, made complete, having a tranquil mind, and enjoying full provision for life!  The context of the promise is about the restoration of Jerusalem after her destruction by invaders.  God speaks and says that though He allowed her to experience His anger, it was only for a season. Now she would be made whole.  She would rejoice like a woman abandoned by her husband who finds new love. “For your Maker is your bridegroom, his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel, known as God of the whole earth. You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief, and God welcomed you back, like a woman married young and then left,” says your God.” (Isaiah 54:5-6 The Message) He follows with this promise. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)

Paul teaches Christians that they are brought into that promise, that the covenant of peace belongs to us through Christ, for we are brought into God’s favor by Him! Here is a word from the Word. Make the truth found here part of your cognitive-behavioral triangle! Thoughts – Feelings – Behavior. “Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:1-5, NLT)

So let me ask it again – are you entering into the promise of God, living in His holy peace, the ‘shalom’ promised to people who are embraced by His great love?

_____________

Good, Good Father

 I’ve heard a thousand stories,
Of what they think You’re like,
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night.
You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone.

I’ve seen many searching for answers,
Far and wide,
But I know we’re all searching for answers,
Only You provide.
Because You know just what we need,
Before we say a word. 

You’re a Good, Good Father,
It’s who You are,
It’s who You are,
It’s who You are.

And I’m loved by You,
It’s who I am,
It’s who I am,
It’s who I am.

 You are perfect in all of Your ways!
You are perfect in all of Your ways!
You are perfect in all of Your ways, to us.

 Love so undeniable I can hardly speak,
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think.
As You call me deeper still,
As You call me deeper still,
As You call me deeper still,
Into love, love, love!

Anthony Brown | Pat Barrett © 2014 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)Common Hymnal Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)Housefires Sounds (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

1 Comment

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One response to “Beating the monster called – anxiety

  1. Gloria Vetrano

    Needed that. U r right on target.

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