Today we continue a series of articles that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Everyone will admit that anxiety is the enemy of the mind and another weapon used by the devil. Anxiety is constant worry about making the right decision or the outcome concerning a decision already made. Anxiety is worrying about having enough money to pay the bills, where you’re going to get your next meal, where you are going to sleep, or many other things. Worry can cause a great deal of stress and frustration, which allows the enemy to bring to your mind evil and dangerous thoughts. In short worry opens the door for the devil. The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7, italics are mine).
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Who feels like rejoicing when you are having your own little pity party worried about how things are going to work out. Yet, this rejoicing the Bible is talking about is the result of being in the Lord. One cannot help from rejoicing when they are in the Lord becoming one in attitude, aspiration, and sharing a since of accomplishment. When you are in the Lord there is the reality that you are doing exactly what God desires. On the other hand, to be in the world one takes control of his life attempting to fulfill his needs and desires, which almost always leads to anxiety and its accompanying stress if not accomplished. So the first step in overcoming anxiety is to live your life in the Lord to such a degree that you are allowing Him to fulfill your every need, which brings forth great joy! It’s antithetical to rejoice in the Lord and be anxious at the same time.
The second step in overcoming anxiety is to, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” The word gentleness has an element of selflessness and was interpreted by Martin Luther as yieldingness. When anxiety rises its ugly head it often times is presumed to be the cause of another individual who is depriving you of your needs or causing you undue harm. The level of anxiety is heightened as the anxious person plots retaliation or how to devise a plan to escape the snare of the Fowler. So what does the Bible say, yield to the other person, and let your gentleness be evident to all. If you need to cancel the debt, withdraw the request, or turn the other cheek, in so doing you have overcome anxiety and sent the devil to flight. Our best motivator for following this command is recognizing that the, “Lord is near.”The King James Version translates it, “the Lord is at hand.” Indeed the Judge is at the door! This should have a sobering effect upon those having anxious thoughts driven by their selfishness apart from trusting in the Lord to deliver what’s really needed.
The next step in overcoming anxiety is a straight forward biblical command, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Does that mean that anxiety is a sin? Clearly to violate a command in Scripture is a sin. This is not a sin to be taken lightly, because it doesn’t trust God to provide. He made this abundantly clear in the Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord gave multiple illustrations about each of those physical needs, such as clothing, food, and drink that could cause people to have anxiety if not readily available to those seeking them. In conclusion, our Lord tells us that all these things will be delivered unto those who first seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. Again, we are brought back to the same conclusion that trusting in the Lord to provide is the very key to overcoming anxiety. Not by dwelling on the problem. Not by taking control. Not by plotting retaliation or devising a plan to escape. Not by being anxious, but by trusting in the Lord, which leads us to the final step.
We bring those anxious thoughts before the Lord in prayer and petition accompanied with thanksgiving. Lay it all before the Lord in infinite detail; don’t leave anything out. Petition your Father in Heaven thanking Him in advance knowing in all faith that He will answer your prayer and deliver you from the very thing that has caused your anxiety. So what is the outcome? Peace! We have a peace that defies understanding. Anyone who has agonized, worried, and been in the pit of anxiety will long for peace. When we follow these simple steps from Scripture then peace will come in a flash with overwhelming joy. In an instant everything that seemed so difficult and confusing will become so clear as if a fog has been lifted enabling us to see His marvelous plan. All the pressure from this world will be instantly evaporated and the peace that defies understanding will fill our soul.
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