Category Archives: Anxiety

Why “Doing” is So Important in the Fight Against Anxiety

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of Philippians 4:9 in the fight against anxiety.  Here it is again:

9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

In this text we see that there is a very active element to receiving God’s gift of peace.  God wants us to obediently follow the example of Paul, and as we do so, He promises that his peace-giving character will be with us.

What I didn’t expound on yesterday is why this command is so important in fighting anxiety.  If you ever struggle with moments or seasons of anxiety, you know how it can cripple you in your obedience to the Lord.  Anxiety keeps you download (3)inside yourself, trying to answer questions that you can’t answer, seeking to handle hard circumstances by yourself, and trying to get to the bottom of your struggle.  Anxiety leads us to keep spinning our wheels while going nowhere.  As this is happening, we are dropping the ball on our spiritual privileges and responsibilities – we forget to pray for other people, we neglect those closest to us, and we stop pursuing the Lord in worship.

This is why it is so crucial for Paul to tell us to follow his example.  Anxious people need to be reminded of who God is and what Christ has accomplished for us, but we also need to be told to get busy living again – living a life of devotion to our King.  The right feelings might not be there at first, but that’s when we repent, ask God’s forgiveness for not desiring Him as we should, ask Him to provide us with those right feelings, and then keep moving forward by His grace.


A Scripture We’ve Missed in the Battle Against Anxiety

When we or someone we know is struggling with anxiety there are a few Scripture texts that we turn to more than others.  One of those is Philippians 4:6-7:

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving images (63)let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The promise of this verse is that God’s peace will guard your heart and mind in Christ when you depend on Him through prayer and thank Him for His graciousness to you.  I have clung to this promise many times in my life, but like so many other Bible passages, with this one, I have stopped reading too soon.

When you reach verse 9, the Lord gives some more hope for the anxious believer:

9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Here is another promise of peace.  When we follow the example of holy living that Paul set for us, we will receive peace.  My conclusion in all of this is that God does not intend for us to be inactive in receiving His gracious gift of peace.  For His glory and by His grace, He has planned that we must draw near to him in prayer, thanksgiving, and a life of devoted obedience to experience the peace He promises.


What to Preach to Your “What if’s”

images (1)I think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the ways anxiety and worry are provoked within us is through the question, “What if…?”  This question is one that looks into the future and sees the possibility for tragic, burdensome circumstances and begins to fret in response.

Like all other sins, the root of the issue is that we simply do not trust God.  The question is not the problem, it’s our heart that, in those moments, refuses to cling to the hope we have in God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  As I was listening to the audio book of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas yesterday, I heard a quote about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s outlook that helps our unbelief in regard to the “What if…?” question.

In 1937 the Nazis closed down Bonhoeffer’s seminary called Finkenwalde, but in spite of such a circumstance, here’s what Metaxas writes,

Bonhoeffer was an eternal optimist because he believed what God said through the Scriptures.  He knew that whatever befell him or the faithful brethren would open new opportunities in which God would operate, in which his provision would become clear.

Did you catch that?  Bonhoeffer looked into the future and saw new opportunities to serve the Lord, not the possibility of an impossible situation.  And that is saying something in a context where the Nazis’ dominance was getting ever stronger.

His Scripture-informed outlook reminds me of Paul and Silas who, when thrown into prison and then freed by God, saw the circumstance as an opportunity to serve the Lord by stopping the Philippian jailer from committing suicide and then telling him what he must do to be saved (Acts 16:25-34).  Instead of an opportunity for escape while the jailer was knocked out, they saw an opportunity to serve when he awoke.

It is true that in the mystery of God’s sovereign will he closes certain doors, but that does not prevent other opportunities from becoming available to us.  In fact, any circumstance that comes our way, is another opportunity to serve and honor our King, no matter how hard that circumstance may be.  We will never be without opportunities to serve Jesus, and, therefore, we will never be left without a purpose and never left without new ways in which to fellowship with him in his sufferings.


Scriptures to Fight Anxiety

If you haven’t visited Paul Tautges’ blog, Counseling One Another, you should click on over and take a gander.  He often points to great resources and great Scripture texts to use in fighting the sins that frequently entangle us.  Such is the case with yesterday’s post where he lists a number of passages that are helpful in battling the unbelief of anxiety.  Here they are along with some of Paul’s instructions on how to use them:

  • Proverbs 18:10. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” When overcome with anxiety, speak to yourself the names of God. Think upon His glorious attributes.
  • Isaiah 43:2. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” Just meditate on this amazing promise. Receive the help of His presence (Ps 42:5).
  • Matthew 6:25-34. This passage of Scripture directs us to shift our focus from ourselves and all our earthly worries to the goodness and faithfulness of God to provide for all our needs (not our “greeds”). Beholding the wonders of creation encourages us to meditate on God—the only One who can truly relieve our fears.
  • 1 John 4:18-19 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” This Scripture teaches us that the antidote for fear is love. Anxiety, especially in the sin-form of insecurity, is self-centered. As we die to self and live for others we overcome our fears.
  • Philippians 4:6-8. Thankful prayer, in which we cast all our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Pet 5:7), stands as a century at the door of our heart, refusing to allow anxiety to re-enter.
  • Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus invites us to yoke all our worries to His strong shoulders. He alone can carry the burden for us. In Him we find true rest.

 

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Battling the Fear of Being Useless

Last night a group of us at Calvary Bible Church finished working through the DVD series, Battling Unbelief, by John Piper.  Here is a segment that was particularly helpful for me.

 

 

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John Piper on Battling the Unbelief of Anxiety

This summer on Wednesday nights our church has been going through John Piper’s DVD series, Battling Unbelief.  This past week, as Piper was using the Scriptures to help us battle the unbelief of anxiety, he made a connection between Matthew 6:34 and Lamentations 3:22-23 that I think has revolutionized my fight against worry.  Here are the two texts and a long quote from Piper to explain.

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Lamentations 3:22-23 – The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

There is a perfect correspondence between the amount of trouble planned for you and the amount of mercies to sustain you in those troubles.  They go perfectly.  Therefore, don’t pile into any day trouble that doesn’t belong there… Count on it, there will be trouble tomorrow.  And count on it, every morning there will be new mercies… Today’s mercies are designed for today’s troubles… What you have today to get through the next six hours is not enough to get through tomorrow… But what God calls you to do now is not to feel what you need to feel tomorrow.  You need to trust that [grace] is going to be there tomorrow.

 

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