Saturday, January 9

Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety. You can be anxious before you know it. I know. This happens to me not infrequently. It's not always (in fact mostly never) obvious. But it's there. And peace flees away. Further, it doesn't have to be based on anything solid, momentous. Just a feeling, an awakening disposition when we roll out of bed. But it affects our faith outlook. A cloud of doubt hangs over us. Often we can't tell right away either. God is not, as it were, in the "driver's seat."

It has long been my habit when this happens--after I recognize it--to get still and quote that ever blessed portion from Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything . . ." Stop there! Here's where you commence to preaching. Yes, YOU. You don't have to BE a preacher to do this. But I DO preach and I preach this one to myself. So, first I repeat aloud the words of the verse, picking out each word as necessary : "Anything?" Really? Yes. Anything. That's quite inclusive isn't it? Then I ask, "Is this (that I'm feeling) 'anything?'" "Does it qualify as being under the classification of "anything?" "Well, yes, of course it does." And, "Doesn't the Lord know everything, therefore, he knows about this feeling I have, this issue I'm facing, this test I'm enduring?" Again, I answer, "Yes, of course he does!" "Then don't be anxious about this either." What is felt in secret can be unraveled when spoken aloud.

That's about it, really. Nothing exotic. Extremely simple. But when you're anxious, simple is better. So, what happens? Well, usually before I even make it through the process (which is obviously short) I am already feeling better! Really? Yes, really! Anxiety is just a weak unbelieving response to . . . well, whatever it is. It's Satan's way of subtly diverting our attention off from the beauty of Jesus. But God IS in control. He DOES love us. He DOES command us not to be anxious. So, He MUST know what He's talking about. OF COURSE HE DOES! Based on that, I throw myself in his direction. And he catches me every time. Every time. Scripture destroys unbelief. It's unbelief not to trust God. Don't "worry" about that, though. Simply confess, "Help my unbelief." That is one of God's many, many strong suits.

How long does this take, this preaching to self? Usually very, very brief, until anxiety leaves and peace returns. You never begrudge any time spent in this process. It drives you closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. And we all know that there is no better place to be. God grant us all such faith to ground our hope in Christ alone!

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