Peace: Overcoming Anxiety
You feel your hands are getting sweaty and your heart is fluttering in your chest. Butterflies are dancing in your belly. You close your eyes, and all you can do is play the same movie over and over again in your head. The script may change at times, but the outcome is always the same. Nothing positive will come out of this, there will be no happy end. Sound familiar?
Of course, everyone gets nervous or anxious from time to time about everyday things, both large and small –speaking in public, starting a new school or a job, moving to a new place, facing a difficult challenge, getting a sickness diagnosed, or having financial problems. Our relationships and interactions with others can also lead to stress. Anxiety is a part of everyday life, it is part of being human, but it does become a problem when it takes control over our life –and even our bodies. Feelings of anxiety go hand in hand with a constant state of pessimism, fatalism, and victimization.
Anxiety is a type of fear that is associated with the thought of a threat (not an immediate threat) of something wrong happening to us or our loved ones. Basically, anxiety consists of rehearsing in your head scenarios of what will or may happen. It makes you live your life troubles before they even come to pass, and to relive them over and over again. It sets you up for failure in advance.
But, above all things, anxiety is a joy extinguisher, a joy killer. It will rob you from the ability to rejoice over good news, and it will make you be too scared to be happy. It will make you doubt that, in the end, God is still capable of orchestrating all things to make them work for our good. Anxiety displaces faith and trust that God is in control of all our circumstances, and it does not let us enjoy God in the present or remember God’s provision in the past.
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
Conquering anxiety is not easy, but Philippians 4:4, 6-8 gives us a series of godly and spiritual weapons to use in order to fight it back:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! […] 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.”
On the night before Jesus was arrested and crucified, during the heaviest moment of anxiety in His life, Jesus prayed to the Father and researched His will. Prayer is a conversation with our Heavenly Father. And, by verbalizing our needs, our fears, and our doubts, we release them out of our lives. God knows what we need before we ask for anything, but He is pleased when we turn to Him in an act of faith that He does listen, He does care, and He will respond. By asking him specific requests (‘petitions’) we are relying on the endless capacity of God.
For many years, I firmly believed that the opposite side of anxiety was peace. This verse in Philippians 4:4, 6-8, however, changed my perspective forever. The opposite side of anxiety is not peace, it rather is joy. Peace flows and settles in once our joy has been restored in the presence of God. Bask in God’s presence and let Him restore your joy.
3. Enjoy the present, the right now
You cannot always be thankful for every circumstance but you can be thankful in every circumstance. Be thankful for the present and enjoy the immediate –God’s presence and provision in your life right now. Tomorrow is a concept that only exists in our human minds, and whatever is meant to happen will happen, and what is not meant to be will not be.
When you face the mountain, climb it or contour it. When you face the bridge, God will take your hand and cross it with you. Challenges will come, and anxiety will set in, but God will be with you.