Anxiety: an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the nature and reality of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
-Merriam Webster Dictionary
We see many struggling with fear and anxiety who come to us for help. Add the darkness of the times we find ourselves in, and the potential for giving fear significant ground multiplies.
The recovery and healing process from porn and adultery alone are enough to shred people with fear.
“Will my wife leave me?”
“Is there really hope that I can break free from the bondage I’m in?”
“Does he really want help?”
“What if he looks at…?”
“Is God there? He doesn’t seem to be… I’m on my own.”
“What if others find out?”
“If they really knew how bad I had it, they’d reject me.”
Anxiety is the natural progression of fear that has been given unhindered access to the soul. If you spin yourself around the merry-go-round of “what if’s” long enough it’ll wear you out. Add the natural stress, strife, and problems of life into the mix, and you’re a step away from a nervous breakdown. Medication, here I come.
So take my hand and let’s step off the merry-go-round and rest for a few minutes while we discuss this.
Fear and faith are polar opposites. It’s impossible to trust God while you’re screwed into the ceiling with fear and anxiety. Your first step is to stop, and rest. The only way you’re going to rest is if you take your tight-fisted grip off the thing you’re wound up about, which means you have to release it.
Maybe you just frowned reading that and thought “Yeah right. If you knew what I was going through…” I’ve been there, and all that obsessing ever did was drive me into hypervigilance, which is anxiety on steroids. Ever heard of panic attacks? More than 14 years ago I got hit with several of those. It’s pure misery. What I’m offering you today are the answers God gave me that got me out of that hell. Once I’d had enough of doing it my way, He showed His way to conquer fear and find rest in the midst of chaos. Today I know He was preparing me for the battles ahead.
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7
Ultimately, anxiety is about self-protection. “God, you allowed this to happen and it hurt me. I’m not going to let that happen again.” But the best you can do on your own is grab the problem and hold onto it and try to control it.
Then it gets worse. The man or woman who transforms into a control freak chains themselves to fear; fear is now the driving force behind their decisions. This is when relationships start to blow up and sour. If the control freak doesn’t back off and tightens their grip even more, pride takes residence. They can become angry and manipulative, ready to explode at a moment’s notice when someone tells them “no.”
You must never allow fear to dictate your life or influence your decisions. Fear is a cruel master that will torment you and those you love, with the goal to cause as much damage as possible. Fear will block you from hearing God and put a wedge between you and the One who is your only source and hope for peace.
Let’s go back to release and rest. The reason we don’t release our cares to God is because we’ve bought into the lie that we have to protect ourselves; He allowed us to get hurt so we dare not trust Him again. When you take it on yourself to be your own shield you’re relying on your flesh, which is useless in spiritual warfare.
You must surrender everything to God including:
* Your spouse and what they may or may not do.
* Your future, no matter what.
* The lie that you have to protect yourself so you won’t get hurt again. You will get hurt again—Jesus promised we would suffer. Feeling pain is okay, even a good thing because it shows your heart is alive. This doesn’t mean you wear your heart on your sleeve and allow others to spit on it (some get off on being a martyr so they can run around blaming others for their misery), or you don’t set healthy boundaries, but that you will not wall your heart off. Remember what the shortest verse in the Bible is? “Jesus wept.” He felt pain and didn’t run from it. Part of the problem is that too many of our Pollyanna churches haven’t equipped people to suffer. Suffering is a part of our fallen world, but God uses our pain to purify us, strengthen us, give us wisdom, and reveal Himself to us—when we let Him. That’s hope.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
* Your way of doing life. If you look at Scripture, God often took people to places they didn’t want to go and used them in ways they didn’t expect. Moses is one example. God told Moses to return to Egypt so He could use Moses to lead His people, and Moses told Him to go find someone else: “Sorry God, not my spiritual gift.” Fortunately for Moses, God was patient and nudged Him forward.
* Your desire to have everything lined up the way you want it before you release your fear and anxiety. He may give us a direction, but usually we get no more than one step at a time. We walk by faith, not sight, a plan or a program, which means we must walk close to Him and trust Him as He leads us, even if everything inside of us is screaming “No!!”
If all of this sounds dangerous or scary, you’re getting it, because it can be. That’s the Christian life. It’s dangerous and there are no guarantees, but God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
You have to ask yourself if you believe that God is big enough to handle your problems. Or have your problems become your god?
After you’ve come to the place of complete surrender:
* You must choose to trust God every day and shut down fear the second it hits. If you’ve spent years giving in to fear this won’t feel natural, but in time it gets easier.
* Remember the spiritual battle. The enemy isn’t backing down without a fight. Plant some anti-fear verses in your mind if you get attacked and refuse to back down. When needed, take up your authority in Christ and command the enemy to stop.
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
* Walk with God. Ask Him for wisdom and clarity for everything. Refuse to make a decision from fear or be driven by it. Make Turn and Connect your way of life as I wrote about in The Road to Grace and The Wife’s Heart.
* The enemy attacks our wounds with fear. If there is an area where you need healing, ask the Lord to expose it and heal you. We’re here for you if you want help walking through it.
* You must become a prayer warrior. When needed, get others praying for you.
You are meeting with another believer once a week for the purpose of support, prayer, and accountability, right?
Every day, you must choose whether you will allow fear to own you, or if you will surrender your life to God and conquer fear and anxiety His way.
You’re free to choose which one you want.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Picture: Samuel Spicer