Anxiety is a common occurrence that affects millions of people on a daily basis. Anxiety is irrational thinking, characterized by feelings of worry, stress, apprehensiveness or dread; such thoughts are influential enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.
Billy Graham once said: “At its best, anxiety distracts us from our relationship with God and the truth that He is “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25).
At its worst, anxiety is crippling, taking over minds and plunging thoughts into darkness. For many individuals, anxiety goes hand in hand with depression which is a very dark place. Sadly, anxiety seems to be on the rise which presents a critical predicament for the Church body, because many write off anxiety-ridden people as crazy or possessed.
As Christians how do we take charge over this powerful emotion or teach others how to take control of it?
The answer seems simple, just calm down right? The fact is, anxiety has many root causes and sometimes arises for seemingly unknown reasons. Lets first look at what anxiety is, it’s your body’s direct response to stress. It’s a perception of fear or trepidation about what’s to come or what may have already occurred. Situations such as the first day of a new job, moving to a different or unfamiliar place, even public speaking can cause many people to feel fearful and nervous.
What about anxiety that rears its ugly head in unexpected ways? For example, you have just laid down to go to sleep, in the same bed, in the same house, at the same time, yet tonight you suddenly feel a sense of overwhelming uneasiness. Your heart starts to race, as do your thoughts, sleep alludes you because your mind just won’t shut off. You’re left thinking, how do I handle this intrusive feeling of anxiety? The first step to shifting the grasp of anxiety, to a release of anxiety, is to yield your life to Jesus. This step means that you are leaving the past behind you, and you are stepping into the goodness of God. Jesus offers redemption from sin and death, He also offers healing for the mind, body, and spirit.
The next step is to practice fixing your thoughts on Jesus and His promises. In the arena of our thinking, we are to exercise awareness of our thoughts and take them captive (take control over your thoughts). To do this you need to consider what thoughts are coming to your mind, think about what you are thinking about.
Are the thoughts negative? The reason you’re thinking about such things is that you haven’t tried replacing the thoughts with positive ones. The Bible tells us to take authority over our thoughts,
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you..” Philippians 4:8
Have you ever considered that it is impossible to have a positive and negative thought at the same time? It’s like trying to force night and day to occur in the same exact place, at the exact same time, light always casts out darkness.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
The Power of Your Words
Recognize that your speech is attached to your thinking. As sinners, many days are wasted on acting in a “destructive mode” where people bashing, complaining, nagging, discouraging, belittling, swearing, chastising, slandering or gossiping were common attributes of our speech. Here’s the pivotal moment, we have to decide to use our words constructively, such as with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair.
“Don’t mix your words with your mood, you can change your mood but you can’t take back your words.” Anonymous
Despair is a derivative of anxiety, it is laced with worry and fear. If you are still speaking in this negative manner, you are causing anxiety to be infused within your mind, poisoning your heart on purpose; your mind and speech flow out of the condition of your heart.
“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Anonymous
Ephesians 5:1-7 states;
“Be imitators of God, as beloved children, walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you. Guard your speech, let there be no crude joking, which is out of place, these are senseless words that bring disgrace and are unnecessary, but instead, let there be kindness, grace, thanksgiving, and praise. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is immoral (sexually, by actions or thought) or are impure, those who think or act as an idolater, you are apart from God, How could they expect to have an inheritance in Christ’s kingdom while doing those things?
It is our words that produce a strong affirmation of our innermost thoughts. They are a witness to the world of how we perceive others, our lives and ourselves. It is this powerful affirmation that our words provide which empowers our thoughts to manifest into the reality of our actions. So why would we choose to misuse our most important asset, words? Recognize that “The Word” first originated with God. John 1:1
“In the beginning, was the Word
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.”
The word is Jesus, and Jesus is The Light of the World (John 8:12), The Glory of God (Isaiah 40:5), The Morning Star (Revelation 22:16), Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), The True Light (John 1:9), Dayspring (Luke 1:78)
When you say or think something enough times it can become your truth. If you tell yourself you are unsafe, you are actually becoming unsafe, because you allowed the thought to steal your peace. If you think you are worthless, you inhibit anxiety to occur because your true worth has now been taken hostage by the lie. The negative, joy stealing influences have to be halted in Jesus name.
Replacing lies with truth
Even when you feel anxious you can choose to be calm. You can actively engage in the process of peace by believing you are strong, not timid, not weak, but strong.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Your strength is found in the goodness and power (death-defying, overcoming power) of Jesus.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9
John 16:33, “In Me (Jesus), you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (death & sin).”
Speak to the thoughts as if they are a nat that is bugging you. Tell the swirling emotion It Is Unwelcome! Chase the negative patterns of thinking away with the sound word found in scripture.
In John 14:27, Jesus assures his disciples He will send the Holy Spirit when He returns to the Father, and He reassures us today through His word: “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.” These words still encourage us today.
Shed light on the darkness of anxiety by simply saying the name Jesus when you feel overwhelmed. His presence drives out fear, worry, and anxious thoughts. Stop and take in slow deep cleansing breaths, then pray (meditate) on scripture, applying the verses of peace to your own situations for example:
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:7
Your personal prayer “The peace of God is transforming my mind, is guarding my heart and my mind through Jesus Christ” ~ Amen
(note is anxiety is causing you to consider or act on self-harm, immediately tell someone, then go see your doctor, therapist, or go to your local emergency room)