Are you anxious? Anxiety wears many disguises. It can show up as worry or fear. It can turn a person into a defensive and difficult individual trying desperately to reassert control over the perceived chaos of life. It can bring on a sense of being worthless or become a dark cloud of doom. Anxiety is not just a issue of emotions! It can bring on physical symptoms including stomach cramps, profuse perspiration, and headaches. When there is a real threat that fear that underlies anxiety makes us able to react, making us alert, increasing our strength. But, when it becomes chronic, anxiety is a curse; life-controlling, turning each day into a battle.
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 failed Jesus terribly and publicly. He was familiar with the ache of regret. Most notably, at the critical moment of Jesus’ trial, he fell into the grip of fear and swore that he did not even know his Lord and Master. 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 was 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, fill your mind with the truth that God loves you and holds you in His hand.
Oh, yes, things happen in our lives that are hard to understand. We do not know why He allows suffering, sickness, or disappointment. But, IF we trust Him to love us and to care for us, we can come to a place of acceptance. That is not resignation, giving up, or quitting. It is the choice of humility that says “You are God. I am not!”
Even though we may that intellectually, many of us still try desperately to master our situations, to control all outcomes, to eliminate all uncertainty and we grow anxious. So Peter was inspired to urge us to “humble yourselves.” That means we choose to set aside pride, to act in an unassuming manner. Please note that this humility is not a crushed spirit, a conclusion that we are worthless. True humility leans heavily on the unfailing loving care of the Father who is filled with majesty and power.
Second, make the choice to cast your anxiety on Him.
That is an active phrase that means what it appears to say – take those things and throw them on God’s shoulders! “Lord, it’s too heavy for me. Take it.” He does not resent your asking. He loves you and 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)
Third, we make Spirit-empowered choices: self-control and self-awareness!
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 – will 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. If emotions are swirling, the storm of fear raging, one of the most difficult things to do is to step back, to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46.10) Find a praying friend who is willing to sit with you in silence, waiting on God’s Spirit to settle on you with that peace that is His gift to us.
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.
The word from the Word is a restatement of what we read a moment ago. Let this inspired truth find root in your mind today. “Be humble in the presence of God’s mighty power, and he will honor you when the time comes. God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him. Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith. You know that all over the world the Lord’s followers are suffering just as you are.” (1 Peter 5:6-9, CEV)
Be Still My Soul
(Listen and let the Spirit bring you peace)
Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
With patience bear the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In ev’ry change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul thy best thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end
Be still my soul thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past
Thy hope thy confidence let nothing shake
All now mysterious shall be bright at last
Be still my soul the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below
Be still my soul the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last
© Words: Public Domain