What do you do when the pressures and darkness of this world seem to overwhelm your soul, when each breath is an effort, and your mind has declared war on your peace?
How do you press on through the swamp of anxiety that defies explanation?
How do you take the next step?
Christians are not immune from attacks of despair, but we do have weapons in our arsenal that can help us survive and even declare victory in our most challenging times.
God has instructed us to ‘put on’, or to avail ourselves of His whole armor (Ephesians 6:10-11). While Christians are secure in our place as His children, we must choose to use His protection and His weapons against the forces of evil that attack. Make no mistake, overwhelming anxiety is an attack.
Here are some weapons or antidotes against anxiety that God has provided for us:
1. Give thanks. This seems so simplistic, but our minds are wired such that gratitude and anxiety cannot coexist. Giving thanks is not random, but purposeful. It may require a pen and paper to force the mind to focus on God as our Source and what is good and right rather than on the darkness. Thank You, God, that I can breathe. Thank You, God, that the sun came up this morning. Thank You, God, that…. You get the idea. I Thessalonians 5:28 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 2. Offer praise. We get so caught up in requesting things from God that we forget to praise Him. Praise takes us out of ourselves and focuses on Who God is. He is Creator. He is all powerful. He is Grace. He is Love. Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritural songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. 3. Claim God’s Promises. God has promised to keep us and care for us. We can pray His promises when we are in need. “Father, thank You that You care for me. I am not sure how to pray for relief from this anxiety, so please pray for me (Romans 8:26). You have not given me the spirit of fear, and I ask that this fear be relieved (II Timothy 1:7). You have promised peace when I bring my anxiety to you – I ask for peace (Philippians 4:6-7). Keep my heart and my mind. You are my Father, and I love You.” 4. Focus Your Thoughts. We do not have to think only of the bad and difficult things of this life. God has told us where to focus our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true (God’s Word is true), whatsoever things are honest (God’s love is honest), whatsoever things are just (God is just), whatsoever things are pure (God is pure; viewing nature can be pure, listening to children can be pure), whatsoever things are lovely (view a sunrise or a flower), whatsoever things are of good report (things that are worthy of praise); if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 5. Trust God. Again, this seems simplistic, but faith is a powerful shield (Ephesians 6:16) against the anxiety that attacks the soul. Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. God WILL see us through! 6. PRAY. Prayer is our contact with our heavenly Father. This world is hard, and we need this constant link to Him. (Ephesians 6:18)
These steps are not automatic. Just like a soldier with his armor, we must practice using them to combat the attacks of anxiety. Satan wants us to think that we are alone in this battle. He isolates us and assaults. God calls us to Himself for protection, for grace, for relief, for peace.
Press on today, soldier. God’s victory is yours!
I Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.
Photo: Sunrise over Nashville, Beth Mims