Yesterday my wife and I spent most of the day driving in order to assist our college age son move back to our city before the mayor’s shelter-in-place order took effect. We are safe and hunkered down.
The ability to say and embrace, “I’m safe” evokes peace. However when the heart is fearful, these words don’t ring true and fear persists.
What can assist us in getting over the hump to experience a plane of peacefulness? A brief understanding about what makes us tick reveals why the suggestions listed below offer practical help.
Fear, anxiety, as well as a sense of peace are all feelings. Feelings are the result of a process involving our mind. If we wish to change our feelings, we will need more than just our determination. Change the thought; change the feeling.
Imagine how futile it would be for someone to command you: feel depressed, feel elated, or feel fearful. The feelings won’t be there.
Yet, our feelings will instantly change when our perceptions and thinking changes. For example, if we see a tragedy unfold before us, new feelings erupt. Or learning that our children have excelled immediately evokes joy. And yes, under certain conditions sometimes doctors jumpstart healthier perceptions with medicine.
Anxiety and fear is the predictable result when someone rivets his or her focus upon a certain type of information while ignoring whatever else may be true. The disciple of Jesus can choose to switch his or her focus to be upon the wonderful and unchangeable truths anchored in God. Such thoughts produce genuine thankfulness mitigating anxiety and fear off of center stage allowing our hearts to praise God.
Good reasons exist for Philippians 4:8’s current popularity. Here are just a few of the true, commendable and praiseworthy things we can choose to put under the spotlight:
- Focus on God’s power, love and mercy. Review God’s track record from scripture! Know that God has the power to handle anything that might come our way and that God cares about us. Then praise God for these and other truths about God.
- Be thankful for your past. How has God previously answered your prayers? Spend time in prayer praising God for these blessings. Thank God for his provisions in the present and past – whether that be life, time with loved ones, available resources, a certain measure of health, the promises of the new covenant, and so forth.
- Be thankful for the moment. Fear often revolves around future “what if” scenarios. Focus on the present while expressing gratitude to God for what you have in this moment. You might not have health, but do you have life and the hope Jesus provides?
- Do what is possible. Is there some achievable good? Do it. If something is beyond your control, acknowledge your limitations while seeking God’s help.
- Reframe your difficulties in light of the eternal. While material goods might be lost or health might fail or relationships might disintegrate, what can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Paul’s answer – nothing is capable! Even if our worst imaginable scenario becomes reality, this can not rob us of what is most important! Place the crisis within the perspective of the eternal and ultimate. God is still with us. God can still provide and support. And if we are serving our Lord, God will provide ultimate relief one day.
As a doctor might say, “Repeat this prescription as frequently as needed.” It can foster a thankful faith capable of triumphing over fear. We can say, “I’m safe.”