This post is by Shannon.
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.
It’s probably safe to say that worry and anxiety are issues that we’ve all dealt with at some point. Some of us more than others. I know that there have been times when I’ve seriously struggled to set aside the anxiety that I feel. Handling worry has definitely become easier for me as I’ve grown stronger in my faith and better learned how to trust in God but I’d still categorize myself as a “worrier”. I know I’m not the only one out there who is working through this so I thought I’d share some things that I’ve learned recently which have really helped me when it comes to worry and anxiety.
Recently, I’ve been reading the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. Most of what I’m about to share is stuff I’ve learned from this book so I’m giving full credit to her. If this speaks to you and makes you want to hear more, I highly recommend that you read the book for yourself!
Think about the things that you spend the most time worrying over. Are they things that you have control over? Does worrying about them actually do any good? According to studies, 70% of our worries are about things that we can do nothing about… they are either about things that will never happen or about things in our past (which we obviously can’t go back and change). What a waste! Nothing good comes from spending time worrying over these things. Jesus said it best in Matthew 6:27 when he stated, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Not only do worry and anxiety not help, they also become a hindrance by fixing our focus on our situations rather than on God.
Now, let’s take a moment to address the difference between healthy concern and unhealthy worry. We live in a broken world and the truth is that we face legitimate concerns every day. Jesus doesn’t want us to float through life ignoring real problems that require concern and action from us. So how can we tell the difference? Concern includes things that involve a legitimate threat and are specific. Concern address the problem, solves it, and looks to God for the answer. Worry on the other hand is often unfounded, generalized, and obsessive. Worry usually creates more problems and results from looking to yourself or other people for answers. As Joanna so perfectly puts it in her book, “Concern draws us to God while worry pulls us from him… we need to keep our focus on who God is and what God can do.”
The Philippians verses that I quoted at the beginning remind us the three steps that can help us defeat anxiety. 1) Be anxious about nothing. Nothing… sounds almost impossible, doesn’t it? But it is possible when we remember to 2) Be prayerful about everything and 3) Be thankful in all things. Everything, big or small, should be given to God in prayer. When we face a burden, instead of worrying over it, we should stop and pray to God. I’m constantly asking myself, “Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve worried about it?” It really helps me to remember who is in control… that it isn’t about me and what I can do but about God and His amazing power to overcome all things. To quote the book once more, “You see, fretting magnifies the problem, but prayer magnifies God.” God has done so much for us already so by being prayerful and thankful in all things we can avoid the burden of anxiety.
I know it isn’t easy. I know it isn’t what comes naturally to most of us. But when God tells us to “Be anxious for nothing” it’s a reminder that we never need to be overcome by our worries and that we can only find the peace that we desire through Him. He’s ready and willing to take our anxieties on himself… why to we cling so tightly to them?
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.