Robin D. Webb
Before we can understand and address anxiety, we must answer the question, “What is anxiety?” Anxiety is defined as an unusually abnormal or overwhelming sense of anxiousness or fear identified by physical signs or cues in the body (such as tension, sweating, or increased pulse rate).
The individual often has an obscured view of the reality and nature of the threat, and is uncertain about their capacity to cope with or deal with the perceived reality or threat.
Dealing with anxiety can drain us of strength, peace, and joy. When we are reminded about fears of an unchangeable past or an unknown future, we rob ourselves of the gift of the present. As if on a stealth mission, anxiety sneaks in through our thoughts and words, disturbing our rest, increasing our fretfulness, and bringing our hope to a sense of pessimism.
Instead of trusting God for what we can be, see, do, or have, we often try to work our own salvation by expending more mental, emotional, and physical energy to control what is beyond our reach. Then, eventually, anxiety, which is rooted in fear, breaks us down into a lesser version of the individuals that we were created to be.
The high cost of anxiety.
We may not recognize it at first, but anxiety actually works against us as a false form of control. It exhausts us physically, it bears weight on us emotionally, and takes a toll on us mentally and spiritually. The voice of pride and a false sense of self-confidence tends to persuade us that worry, stress, or increasing our activities can actually control our circumstances.
Areas of influence.
There are areas that we do have influence and authority over, such as to steward the gifts and resources that God has given us. However, we are not responsible for changing areas or situations that are beyond our control.
When we encounter the losses that anxiety brings, we learn that this is not the healthy path of peace nor the promises that God presents to us in Isaiah 26:3 and Jeremiah 29:11. Anxiety robs us of our mental peace, disrupts our emotional stability, and disturbs our rest .
The debt was paid for our peace.It all begins with God as the source, though. As we engage in prayerful communication with Him, we unlock anxiety’s hold on our thoughts and feelings. We unchain ourselves to anxiety’s demands, and tether ourselves to refocusing on the Lord. In prayer, and training our minds on what God wants us to think about, we learn to practice peace from within. (Philippians 4:8)
As we submit everything to the Lord, instead of trying to play God, we welcome the Holy Spirit to oversee what areas are His to orchestrate. If we are to be like Jesus, though, that comes through totally surrendering our lives, including every anxious thought and activity to God, the One who has plans and hopes for the lives of the people that He created. (Philippians 4:6-7; Jeremiah 29:11).
Jesus, as the Worthy Lamb, became our peace and restored fellowship between our Heavenly Father and humanity. Confessing Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior grants us access to this peace as known as “shalom,” or “wholeness.”
Peace is a force that transforms Christ-centered lives to a sense of having nothing missing, broken, or out of place. God’s peace is available to us when we accept Christ, even if it does not automatically change life experiences that we may encounter in our world. God gives us His Holy Spirit to help us explore and experience His peace over anxiety.
The treasure within.
Perfect or complete peace, rather, flourishes as we place an active trust in God. We have to do something different if we want to experience a change. Focusing our thoughts on God and meditating on His Word in the Bible is a discipline that we practice with the Holy Spirit’s help (Romans 12:2).
The Holy Spirit lives in us as an inexhaustible treasure to counsel, comfort, coach, and correct (John 14:26). His rich supply of peace and joy overtakes anxiety’s demand for payment from our storehouse of thoughts and emotions.
God is faithful to His Word (Isaiah 55:11). When we obey His Word and surrender our worries to Him, He commits to taking full responsibility for manifesting what Jesus says about us in the Word. (1 Peter 5:7) The Holy Spirit empowers and partners with us, to receive peace through our obedience to and following the Scriptures.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves. – 2 Corinthians 4:7, ERV
The Holy Spirit’s power surges through us, and strengthens us even in some of the weakest points in our lives. When we dispel anxious or worrisome thoughts and meditate on what is true and worthwhile, we develop a mindset that produces strength, courage, and joy that outweighs our current circumstances (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Jesus encouraged us by reminding us that in this world we will have tribulation and trials, but He has given us His peace. The Messiah asserted that we would experience trouble. However, He as the Prince of Peace and the Perfector of our faith has deprived the world of the power to extinguish our eternal security in Christ (John 16:33).
God’s peace actually transcends turbulence and time and is poised to change external and internal realities with a word, as He did so during the time of Creation as outlined in the first chapter of Genesis.
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27, ESV
The treasures in darkness.
Peace anchors our confidence and contentment in Jesus. It garrisons or protects our hearts from being dominated by uncomfortable emotions such as fear, worry, and anxiety. That is not to say that we will not experience dark times in our lives, but we do not have to live as a prisoner to it.
God has actually provided for treasures of peace to be mined in some of the darkest times of our lives, to experience greater intimacy with Him. When we appropriate His peace, it guards our hearts from the ills of anxiety and worry. Peace governs our decisions, relationships, and lives, steering us to walk in wisdom by the light of God’s Word.
Faith in Christ does not only secure us an eternal future of peace, but in this life, we can experience possibilities that seemed unimaginable and out of reach. God makes us new creatures and we have a new spirit and soul, regenerated in Him.
And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. – Isaiah 45:3, NLT
It is our souls, however, that are in need of a constant upgrade and ongoing transformation (Romans 12:1-2). As we yield the territory of our mental and emotional states to Christ’s Lordship, we welcome the Holy Spirit to permeate our natural and spiritual being, transforming us and our worlds from the inside out.
Next steps for overcoming anxiety.
God wants peace for us, more than we want it for ourselves. He knows the turmoil of a troubled mind. He understands our thoughts from a distance and recognizes the agony that we experience when we try to operate in our own strength (Psalm 139:2).
Jesus offered Himself as an atonement for our sin, but salvation was merely a first step. When we open our hearts to embrace the new and living way, we cross a threshold into a new realm of life and experiences that hold a wealth of peace and joy for us (Hebrews 10:20).
nd so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. – Hebrews 10:19-20, NLT
Even as you have invested time and attention to understanding and addressing anxiety, explore additional resources as you consider your next steps. Use this site to seek and schedule an appointment with a therapist who is not only empathetic, but also trained and experienced.
There are gems within you, even as you navigate challenging experiences with anxiety. Embrace the riches that mental health counseling offers to gather the support, spiritual anchoring, and the practical strategies that is available, so that the peace you desire is what you mine and treasure.
“Anxiety”, Courtesy of Nik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Burnout”, Courtesy of Massimiliano Sarno, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Peace”, Courtesy of Jonathan Meyer, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Dove in Flight”, Courtesy of Sunguk Kim, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.