Life has lots of moving pieces for me at the present time. Decisions that will change my life are being made yet they are largely outside of my control. Being a person who does best in routines, when life is predictable, I struggle with feelings of anxiety. I know that this is quite natural.
God made us with the ability to meet the perception of danger with the focus and strength that comes from the rush of adrenalin that anxiety triggers. That chemical messenger in the brain sets off a process called the “fight-or-flight’ response. But, we can become habitually anxious, seeing the whole of life as fearful, and therefore controlled by our anxious thoughts. Is this the life God desires for us?
When we leave in a constant state of anxiety, unwilling or unable to turn off the stress, our bodies start to wear, our mental health suffering sometimes with depression. Spiritually, it takes a toll, too. Curiously, the very things that could relieve the anxious state – meditation, prayer, worship – become more difficult. We cannot seem to find a quiet heart that lets us enjoy the benefit of being in His Presence.
Most of us believe anxiety is beyond our control. We blame our fears on our genes or our training. There is some truth in that. Some people are much more prone to become anxious than others. But, no matter our personality, we need not surrender to the fear, letting anxious thoughts keep us hostage from the life that God, the Holy Spirit, desires for us. Jesus promised a gift to those who accept His grace and love. At the Last Supper, just before His crucifixion, when His friends would be subject to the worst kind of uncertainty, He said “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27, NLT)
Pause for a moment – right now – and if you are feeling anxious tell Him you want to receive that GIFT of peace.
Tell Him what is hanging out there that feels threatening.
Ask Him to renew your faith in His ability to calm the storm and to speak peace to YOUR situation.
Paul, when he traveled and preached the Gospel in a hostile world, found himself in danger, over and over again. He penned the following inspired words from a Roman prison. They are not just greeting card ‘happy talk.’ His faith gave the boot to anxiety and he lived with real peace. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7, NLT)
“Don’t worry about anything!” God would not command us to do what is beyond our control or the impossible. He clues us in about the ‘how-to’ of that directive. The key is not try to suppress worry, nor is it in escape into fantasy. We face the source of our fear and then we “Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done!” If you are used to living with anxiety, if that has become your habit, your mind will rebel against this simple prescription. It will tell you that you’re being stupid, that you’re avoiding reality, that you need to ‘take charge.’
Take it from a guy who wrestles with anxious thoughts – make the choices of Trust and Thanks. Jesus has an interesting description of the result of worry. In a story he told about seed the of the Gospel producing a harvest in our lives, He said that some “seed fell among thorns (weeds) that shot up and choked out the tender blades so that it produced no grain.” (Mark 4:7, NLT) Then He explained His point. “The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.” (Mark 4:18-19, The Message) Isn’t that interesting? We can miss out on the blessings of living in God’s Kingdom, in the richness of His care for us, just by focusing on our problems instead of God’s care.
Are you anxious today? Make a different choice – Trust and Thanks- and move the focus from your inabilities to God’s power and promises.
The word from the Word is a guide for our days. This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength!” (Isaiah 30:15). Amen
(Matt Redman builds our faith with this song of praise)
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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