Dealing With Anxiety
Now that we’ve talked about what anxiety is, why we should avoid it, and the devastating effects it can have on our health, let me ask you a few questions: How are you dealing with your anxiety? Is there something you take or some relationship you depend on to get you through? Or are you just ignoring your anxious thoughts and feelings, hoping they’ll go away on their own?
Many people I meet choose to fret continually about their troubles instead of turning their attention to the provision of God. They remain uneasy about the future and are unable to think about anything other than the difficult challenges before them. Their fears are overpowering and often feel insurmountable. Consequently, the incessant focus on their problems makes them feel as if their lives will never improve.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, let me assure you the continual nervousness you feel is not from God (2 Tim. 1:7). The Lord never intended for you to endure a relentless onslaught of anxiety. Instead, He wants you to deal with your worries and fears, trusting Him in every aspect of your life.
In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus teaches us about worry and God’s provision for us. He didn’t deny that anxiety exists but pointed out two significant truths that are important for us to note:
1. Fear achieves nothing of value.
2. Trust in God diminishes fear.
There was a time in my life when I faced a terrible impediment to my faith. I couldn’t understand why I was struggling or why I was so agitated—everything else in my life seemed to be going well. I recall repeatedly praying for the Lord to help me trust Him more. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t break through the impossible wall keeping me from relying on Him fully.
Finally, I asked some wise friends who loved God for help. I knew they’d give me excellent counsel. They committed to staying with me—praying and discussing the events of my life—until the Father showed us what was going on and where my underlying anxiety was coming from.
We met and talked over the course of a few days. I recounted everything I could recall about my personal history. I was determined to not run away from the problem but instead face it head on, dealing with it once and for all. I told my trusted friends everything I knew to tell them and held nothing back.
Then one of my friends asked me a question I’ll never forget: “Imagine that your father just picked you up in his arms and held you. What do you feel?” He went straight to the core of my problem, and I burst into tears. I couldn’t stop weeping for quite a while.
My father had passed away when I was only nine months old. Losing him at such a young age created a profound area of emptiness, fear, and uncertainty within me that I didn’t even realize was there. When I settled down, my friend asked again, “What do you feel, Charles?” I thought for a moment, then responded: “I feel warm, secure, and accepted. I feel loved.” For the first time I understood that God loved me—that I could have a real, personal relationship with Him beyond salvation. Please realize, I’d been preaching about the Lord’s unconditional love all of my life. I believed it with my mind, but I’d never experienced it deep within my spirit until that day.
Had I ever told myself the Lord didn’t really love me? No. Did I ever doubt God’s love? No. So what was it within me that created that inability to experience the Father’s love in a meaningful way?
It was the need a little boy had for his earthly father that was never met. My mind learned to block out the pain, do without his physical presence, and survive. No one was at fault. But I needed my father, and that affected how my mind processed information about the Lord. The most amazing thing of all was that I had absolutely no idea those self-protective thought patterns and underlying anxieties even existed until they were exposed.
Imagining God holding me as an earthly father holds his little boy was just what I needed in order to overcome the roadblock. Suddenly, my struggle with God made sense, and I finally felt close to Him. Recognizing His presence in such an intensely tangible way opened the floodgates of profound relief and joy—and completely changed my entire life and ministry.
Friend, you don’t know what you don’t know about yourself. None of us do. Uncovering the hidden wounds and anxieties of our lives requires the work of the Holy Spirit, who is able to examine and minister to us in extraordinary ways (Rom. 8:26-27). Trust Him to reveal those secret places of pain in you, and deal with your anxiety once and for all.