Thursday, January 12, 2017

Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, & Fear

Historians will probably call our era “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us. —Billy Graham

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A couple of weeks ago, the sermon at church was about FEAR and how to overcome it. It was a powerful message, particularly because so many Christians are caught in the bondage of anxiety, worry, and fear.  (I believe both anxiety and worry are “side effects” of fear.) This is a surefire way for the enemy to take our focus OFF of Jesus, to steal our JOY, & to cripple our testimony to others. None of those things are from God. Our God is not the author of confusion, of chaos, of insecurity, of doubt, of anxiety, of worry, or of fear. He is the author of PEACE and JOY and desires for us to have an ABUNDANT life No, not remiss of trials, but we can still have peace, joy, and abundant life even during tough times. In fact, that is exactly what it means to me to “let your light shine before men.” That, along with displaying the fruits of the Spirit in our life, is what will draw others to Christ (in us).

Jonathan and I were just talking about some conversations we’d had with others the other day, and I told him I literally had to leave EVERY conversation quoting Scripture because I left every conversation drained. Every person I talked to that day (and maybe it was just the day?) was SO negative, and it left me feeling kinda down. He said he noticed the same thing! I think I am going to start asking for permission to pray, and then pray right then and there. I used to do that more often…not sure why I got out of the habit. (FYI**I recited Philippians 4:8 to help myself refocus on the TRUTH. )

Y’all, did you know there are over 7,000 promises in God’s Word? Promises for His children…and He is waiting on us to claim them. They’re ours for the taking, but so many times we get caught up in our circumstances, don’t take our thoughts captive, and end up living with anxiety, worry, & fear.

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We are far from perfect, and Jonathan and I both still struggle with these things sometimes. But, we are learning to recognize them as quickly as they come in and replace them with the Truth. (May be worth taking a few minutes to read this post I wrote a while back about Taking Every Thought Captive.)

I am not condemning anyone who struggles with these things. I know they are very real and sometimes warranted, so I don’t want it to sound like I’m undermining them. But like any issue/struggle we encounter, God gives us a remedy in His Word and He gives us the ability to overcome sin. ( I think it’s also important we recognize that it IS sin. We know this because the Bible clearly says “Do not worry, be anxious, or fear.”) So many times we have a tendency to overcomplicate things when really the solution is very simple.

I can’t think of a better way to combat anxiety, worry, and fear than memorizing, quoting, and praying Scripture…through praying without ceasing…and through worshiping and praising our Savior. It is almost impossible to feel any of those negative things when you’re busy praising the Lord & overwhelmed with a grateful heart! We have the ability to train our mind and to choose our thoughts and what we believe, but it takes a decision. It takes consistency, spiritual maturity, and faithfulness on our part.

This is personally what has worked for us in helping us overcome anxiety, worry, & fear. Jonathan said Matthew 6:34 (“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”) and PRAYER have helped him the most. And I know for me, it helps to quote Scripture and have praise music playing every chance I get. If you come to my house or ride in my car, you will most likely hear it playing.

Here are the notes from the sermon that you may also find helpful:

*Many of the fears we struggle with today fall into one of the following categories. (These are some of the same fears people of the Bible faced…so they are not new.)

  1. Fear of sudden change.
  2. Fear of inadequacy.
  3. Fear of disapproval.
  4. Fear of loss of control.
  5. Fear of disappointment.

How to overcome fear:

  1. Surrender your life completely to Christ. (Luke 1:38)
  2. Stop listening to the voices of fears. (Romans 14:23)
  3. Fill your mind with music that praises God. (Worship helps you focus on God. Focus on praising Him and not on yourself.)
  4. Base your hope on the Word of God.

“Praise is the anecdote to panic. Worship is the anecdote to worry.” – Jentzen Franklin

I also wanted to share a few of my favorite verses to help combat fear, anxiety, and worry. (There are SO, SO many verses! In fact, I’ve heard there are 365 verses that specifically say “do not fear”…one for every day of the year!) Maybe pick a few that really stand out to you and write them on sticky notes in places you’ll see them often. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning and before you go to bed to read them aloud. Begin to memorize them so they come to your mind (hide them in your heart) when you feel any negative emotions arising.

    The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.- John 14:27

    David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. – 1 Chronicles 28:20

    Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

    Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. –Deuteronomy 31:6

    Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. –Isaiah 54:4

    When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? -Psalm 56:3-4

    For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

    The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. - Deuteronomy 31:8

    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:10-13

    Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Cor 16:13

    Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” –Mark 5:36

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. -Phil 4:6-7

    Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. – Phil 4:8

    The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23

I want to encourage you…(& challenge myself!)…to become the most JOYFUL, THANKFUL, ENCOURAGING, and POSITIVE person you know. What an incredible testimony of WHOSE you are and the Savior you have living in you.

3 comments:

Brianna Shults said...

I needed to hear this today. Thank you for your words!

Katy said...

Thank you for this post today, it is just what I needed! I printed out the verses you added so that I can carry them with me as a reminder of God's promises!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes when your body is not in prime health it can cause anxiety/panic attacks. Nutrient deficiencies, overgrowth of bad organisms, and such can cause symptoms that sometimes include anxiety or anxious feelings. After having my two babies just 13 months apart all the sleepless nights, stress (we also moved twice), my body lacking some deep nourishment, I've been having some anxiety. All that to say even though it is a physical ailment that will take time to heal as I build my nutrient stores, balance good flora, and repair overall gut health leaning on scripture has helped so much (and I should've been doing it waaay sooner)! I've realized I can take my mind, so to speak, out of the anxious or panicky feeling instead of then letting worry and fear take it even further! It took me a while to realize all of this, for so long I felt like "I'm giving these issues to God and looking to Him why isn't it going away?!" I may not understand it all completely, but I do know these issues and the time it is taking to heal them has caused me to want to learn more scripture and build a real relationship with God. Look passed the fancy words and find the deep seated truth and joy that surpasses any affliction! Just wanted to share my experience in case anyone out there has had the same thing! Thanks for this post and all the wonderful scripture! I'm so thankful for u and ur blog!