Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dealing With Anxiety and Worry

Recently I was driving home and something had happened that made me really anxious. It made me antsy. It made me worry. And, ultimately, it made me angry.

I tightened my grip on the steering wheel after a post-midnight rendezvous and felt a pit growing in my stomach. I felt myself losing control. I was furious. Frustrated. At myself, mostly.

Many times I have struggled with both anxiety and worry. And I'm sure I'm not alone. Truth is, I hate feeling this way. It's not fun to be anxious about something or to worry about an outcome. And the truth of the matter is, when we become anxious or worry, it exposes our lack of trust in God.

And that hurts Him. Who am I to say that God cannot redeem a situation? Who am I to say God can't make something happen? Who am I to question God's plan for my life? Who am I to question God's will?

On that lonely drive home, I succumbed to anxiousness and worry and it led to anger. Frustration. Dread. Self-deprecation.

And then, I caught myself. I felt God tugging at my heart and essentially asking "What are you doing? Don't you trust me?"

I admit it: It's a struggle for me personally. But Jesus has an answer for it.

1) Seek the Kingdom of God First

In the book of Matthew, Jesus told His disciples the cure for anxiety. And it's really quite simple:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:33-34)
When we seek God first above all else, everything will fall into place. When we seek His will and purpose in our lives, we will find direction. When we give God all the control, we have peace.

That's not always easy for some of us who tend to want to have control over things. We want to have that mindset of "I got this." But in the end, we weren't built that way. We need to lean on God through our troubles and trials. Our strength comes from the Lord. Our worries and questions need to be given up to God and lifted off of our shoulders. Christ died to lift the burden of sin off our shoulders. He died to make our yoke light. 

Whenever I try and handle a situation on my own, it just doesn't work out and, in the end, it leads to anger and frustration. Because I didn't trust God with that. And I should have.  

2) Persistent Prayer

God is our heavenly father. He wants to bless us. To prosper us. To protect us and deliver us. But we have to be obedient and to make sure that our will is in alignment with his. How do we do this? Persistent prayer. Continually bringing our requests to God. Continually seeking His will above our own. Listening for that still small voice and letting the Holy Spirit guide our decision-making process. (Thank you, Pace Hartfield.) 

Sometimes I get so caught up in the tasks and worries of everyday life that I lose perspective. For that moment when I drove home with an angry edge, I lost my cool when I shouldn't have. And God exposed me in that moment. And I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for peace in that situation. And God provided it. 

God has forced me to loosen the grip I've held on certain areas of my life over the past few years. It's a process as God continues to transform my heart and reveal his purpose in my life. And in order to seek righteousness and God's kingdom, we have to let go of what we want. What we desire. We need to adopt what God wants. What God desires. God doesn't want us to settle for good. He wants to have life and have it to the full. In order to do that, we have to be real with God and have a continual dialogue with Him. 

I'll be real with you: sometimes God's answers to our prayers will be a "no" or "not yet." And I hate that. But I also know looking back that everything that has happened in my life, every prayer answered or not answered, God has used it to mold me, break me, and push me closer to Him.  

3) Remember God's Faithfulness

So many times we get caught up in the present that we forget what God has already done. 

God has spared me from so many situations and has blessed me in so many ways. He has delivered me from some situations that I thought would be impossible to get out of. He has provided me with so much and entrusted me with so much. Even when I'm not faithful, God is. Time and time again, God redeems and restores us even when we don't deserve it. Remembering God's righteousness and faithfulness in the most difficult situations in our lives can give us the boldness to go out and face the trials that we face in every season of our lives. 

When we make a memorial for what God has already done in our lives, we can joyfully and confidently anticipate what God is going to do. 

Let's get to a point where we can trust God with everything. Because God is bigger than anything we are facing and ever will face.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6-9, Psalm 38:15-18 

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