Article by: Tansy Hadly
TJC Women’s Ministry Leader
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
When Billy Graham wrote those words in 1965, no one knew how true they would still be 53 years later.
At its best, anxiety distracts us from our relationship with God and the truth that He is “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matt 11:25). At its worst, anxiety is a crippling disease, taking over our minds and plunging our thoughts into darkness.
A Meteor Shower of What-If’s?
There is a war raging within each of us; a battle for our mind. We have a very real enemy that longs to steal our thoughts. He has many sneaky tactics for doing this and the one with the highest success rate seems to be fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of loneliness, fear of abandonment, rejection, of never being enough, and the list can go on and on. Does this sound familiar to you? Or maybe you know it by another name – Anxiety.
Anxiety can be defined as awareness working against you. It’s an intense awareness of what could go wrong or what is going wrong. It’s like a meteor shower of what-if’s. It’s never founded in truth or reality; it’s a fear that sinks in as you become aware of all the possibilities of what’s “wrong”. The devil uses it to cloud our minds to believe that everything that could go wrong, will.
Fear and anxiety almost took me out last year. Fear dominated and anxiety was the outflow. Confession: I’m a bit of a control freak. And every single thing in my life was outside of my control. My family was going through some very difficult things. And I was trying to carry the weight of all of these burdens on my shoulders. Shoulders that weren’t created to carry these things. I was paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. The “what-if’s.” Anxiety and fear caused me to cower like a cat clawed to the trunk of a tree, paralyzed from moving forward to the safety of the branch or climbing down to the ground below.
Mud on the Windshield
Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” And 1 Peter 5:7 says “cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” The Bible assumes that fear and anxiety WILL come and it tells us how to fight WHEN they do. The issue is: How do we fight these feelings? John Piper answers the question like this: we fight anxieties by fighting against unbelief and fighting for faith in future grace. And the way you fight this “good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7) is by meditating on God’s assurances of future grace and by asking for the help of His Spirit. When the mud splatters your windshield and you temporarily lose sight of the road and start to swerve in anxiety, turn on your wipers and spray your washer fluid. The wipers are the promises of God to clear away the mud of unbelief, and the washer fluid is the help of the Holy Spirit. Without the softening work of the Holy Spirit, the wipers of the word just scrape over the blinding clumps of unbelief on the windshield. Both are necessary: the Spirit and the Word. We read the promises of God and we pray for the help of His Spirit. And as the windshield clears so that we can see the welfare that God plans for us (Jer. 29:11), our faith grows stronger and the swerving of anxiety straightens out.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the US. It is one of the greatest struggles of our generation and one of the most powerful and effective weapons in the enemy’s arsenal. I can’t say that I have the perfect answer to solve this problem, but I know what worked for me and my prayer and hope is that it will work for you too.
Practical Steps to Fight Anxiety
- Confess your struggle to God and find Community
- Confession is good for the soul and bringing Satan’s attacks into the light of God’s Word is the first step of defeating him.
- Community is a game changer in this battle. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up….and if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cored of three strands is not easily broken.”
- Saturate yourself in Scripture
- Scripture is where you will find sanity and freedom when fighting anxiety.
- Beth Moore says “Jesus saved my life; Scripture saved my mind”, and I have found this to be so true in my own life as well.
- Satan will shout lies to you. Run to Scripture for the truth. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable in teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
- Spend time with Jesus
- Talk to Him and hear Him back. Take time to get to know Him, not just facts about Him. Build a relationship with Him, learn who He is and what He desires. Discover that He is trustworthy, He is faithful, He upholds His Word, He fights for you and beside you and He loves you more that you will ever comprehend.
- Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit to a yoke of slavery.”
May you find hope and peace in knowing that you are not alone. You have no need to fear! His peace surpasses all understanding and His love never, ever ends.