Some of us seem to possess the uncanny ability to spot everything that could possibly go wrong or which might fall short. If this statement resonates with you, then you might possess some trepidation in reading further. After all, such thoughts might be a little too painful and too revealing for comfort. However, I promise this article offers hope.
First of all, we need to know how anxiety and fear function. Emotions are fueled by our interpretative thoughts colliding with our values, expectations and desires. When these thoughts are negative, we will feel a negative emotion like fear, anger or anxiety. The stronger the emotion, the more we will be inclined to discover further thoughts corroborating it. In turn these thoughts can unleash even more emotion perpetuating a downward cycle.
God does not want his people to live in a house fueled by the terror of those infamous “what if’s.” God can liberate us from living in dread. It is not easy. However, it is possible.
Within scripture we discover fear and faith often stand in sharp contrast. The LORD commanded Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid” (Joshua 1:9). Although Israel’s army trembled before Goliath, David filled with faith rose to meet the challenge (1 Samuel 17:11,24,36-37). And then there was the time when Ahaz shook as a leaf upon hearing the news that a hostile force intended to overthrow Jerusalem (Isaiah 7:2). The prophet Isaiah counseled, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9).
The determinations of faith burst forth when the depths of the well of one’s heart overflows with God. When someone’s heart focuses upon God’s character and power, then faith can come up in the bucket.
However if the limitations of the earthly or if earthly means and security fill the well of our hearts, it is difficult for faith to come up in the bucket. We can feel the weight of today’s and tomorrow’s worries resting solely upon the temporary and transitory.
So, how do we get started? Here are three healthy initial practices.
- Regularly meditate upon what is reliable. A good place to start would be Hebrews 13:5; 6:18; Matthew 6:33-34; 19:29; Luke 12:29-31; 1 Peter 5:7; Mathew 28:20; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Jude 1:24-25; Romans 8:31-39.
- Allow prayer to set each day’s direction. Such a morning prayer might begin with recognizing who God is and praising him for his loving kindness as well as giving us today. We might then beseech the Father to supply what is needed for the day and to keep the evil one from us. We might acknowledge our intent to live today serving those purposes God has for his people. We might also request the wisdom, love and boldness to do so.
- Don’t test God; live responsibly. Jesus refused to jump off the temple in order to force God’s hand to fulfill scripture thus proving his identity as the Son of God. While God has promised to provide for our needs if we put him first, we should not test God by living foolishly and then trusting God to resolve our junk. To live responsibly might require gaining new tools such as financial management.
God knows what we need. God has the power. God is able. God cares for us. God is faithful. God does not lie. God has promised to provide for those who seek the kingdom first. Life on earth is short. Eternity is forever.
When we focus upon what is true and beneficial, our feelings will follow. At first these exercises might simply mute the magnitude of the anxiety and fear. However, with time they can smother unwarranted anxiety.
We may never escape the inclination to spot danger lurking behind every bush. However, we can learn to immediately squelch unwarranted fears with God’s promises and his faithful track record. To God be the glory for the great things he has done. We can enjoy the peace that comes with living in a house of faith.