The man furrowed his brow and let out a deep sigh of frustration while looking at the unpaid bills that lay scattered across the table. A woman looks anxiously out the window into the growing darkness.Her son missed his curfew again. A young girl wipes away a tear from her cheek as she reads the rejection letter one more time. She’ll never get into college, and her parents will forever see her as a failure.
Worry. Anxiety. Fear. We all have to live with it, or do we? Before leaving this earth, Jesus promised his disciples and the rest of us that we would have peace. “I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27, NLT). As believers and followers of Christ, we are given peace, but why is it so elusive?
We live in a sinful world that produces worry, anxiety, and fear. We live where there’s another reality and forces that want to cripple our faith in God. Peace seems more like an illusion because we allow it to be. When anxiety comes knocking, we open the door allowing it to make itself at home.
Why? Because the bottom line is that we’ve come to doubt God’s goodness, his character, and his promises. Somewhere along the way, we’ve stopped trusting God. It’s very circular. Rest/peace comes through surrender. Surrender comes after we believe.
Belief + surrender = rest. Unbelief + attempt to control = anxiety. It’s that simple. As we look at the following verses, I want you to ask yourself if you truly believe what they are saying. Then ask, why or why not you believe or don’t believe.
Then Jesus said, “Come unto 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
How does this verse compare to your present circumstances? Does it feel as if your burden is light or are you feeling buried by it? This verse shows you God’s heart. He doesn’t want you to be stressed, burned out, or grieved in any way.The fear and worry that you feel are not from him but from the enemy and your pride. Jesus invites us to “come” and “learn.” In other words, put the pride away and the need for control, and humble yourself by setting aside our distrust, our expectations, and the way we think things need to be done. Surrender so that we may have rest.
For God has not given us the spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7, NLT
God is once more showing us that he is not responsible for bringing about fear and anxiety into our lives. He has given us “power, love, and a sound mind.” It’s available to you as long as you surrender.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. – 1 John 4:18, NLT
Examine why you are worried or afraid. Is it linked to the fear of punishment or the idea of something terrible happening? Maybe you can identify a moment in childhood in which you failed and received punishment. We fear many things, but the primary two are failure and people.
When you’re faced with the possibility of failing, ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?” The majority of the time what we imagine is worse than the actual outcome.
When you’re faced with the fear of people, remember who is bigger- God. The fear of him brings peace. Jesus reminds us to not fear those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. (Matthew 10:28). Recognize God’s rightful place.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise…Then the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:6-9, NLT
Have you ever experienced more worry when praying? I have. There are times when I pray about problems and walk away feeling more agitated than I was before. That’s because I didn’t follow the above verses. I told God what I needed, but I neglected to thank him for what he has done! This is what I call setting up a memorial.When the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, God instructed that they set up memorials of rock and stone so that generations will remember what God had done for their ancestors and what he will do for them.
Taking time to thank God and remember what he has brought you through and how he has provided will then chase away the fear of the present circumstances. God was faithful in the past and he will be faithful in the present and future. Express your needs and then remember his promises.
You will walk away in peace, but don’t stop there! As you go about your day, you need to continue to focus on good things. Society calls it positive thinking, but Paul was ahead of modern psychology. The more you dwell on negative things, the more anxiety and fear will engulf you.
We all tell stories in our minds. When we see things from one perspective only, we will fill in the gaps of what we don’t understand. More often than not, we come to the wrong negative conclusions and assume the worst. This creates worry, anxiety, and anger. To counteract the storytelling, search for the truth in situations, about people, and about God. Dwell on good things and get rid of the bad.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow- not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39, NLT
When asked about how God views you, many have responded with answers such as “flawed,” “disappointed,” and “expects perfection.” We are flawed imperfect sinners that need a Savior.
At the time of salvation, that changes. God says we are holy, loved, adopted, chosen, valued, and righteous. Are these words that would support the negative labels we have placed upon ourselves? Many go back to the old way of thinking rather than embracing the truth of God’s love for them. They have placed unrealistic expectations upon themselves rather than accepting the reality of God.
Unconfessed sin brings about anxiety and binds the mind into deceptive thoughts about God and self. We need to believe that God is safe and we can receive forgiveness and healing from him. NOTHING can separate us from his love! Rest in this promise!
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life- whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them.
And aren’t you more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?… See the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. – Matthew 6:25-30, NLT
Jesus shares the secret to a worry-free life in these verses. He made a solemn promise that if we put the kingdom of God first, he will give us everything we need! How do we put God first?
It first starts with putting your trust and belief in Jesus as the Son of God who died to forgive you of your sins. After that, the next step is baptism which is an outward public acknowledgment of your decision to follow Christ. From there it’s daily surrender, not taking back control but giving it to him.
Being serious about discovering and using your spiritual gifts to edify the church and to reach the lost, is having a heavenly focus. It’s not about building portfolios, resumes, retirement funds, and chasing after things that bring comfort and status. It’s about building a relationship with Jesus so that when others see you, they see him.
When your heart is aligned with his, he promises to give you everything you need. He knows the world you live in, the time constraints, and the financial ones. He will be the one to build your resume, your portfolio, and your retirement. Trust him!
If you struggle with anxiety and fear, let’s talk. There’s a beautiful life ahead of you in which you can live in freedom and peace no matter your situation. I would love to help!
“Benjamins”, Courtesy of Artem Beliaikin, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Feeling Down”, Courtesy of Molnar Balint, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Laying on the Road”, Courtesy of Eduardo Flores, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Praying”, Courtesy of Patrick Fore, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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