Heart racing. Unable to sit still. Constant thoughts. Unable to sleep. Palms sweating. Unable to focus. The thoughts – CONSTANT thoughts.
“What if this sickness kills me?” “What if I don’t complete my degree?” “What if I get fired from my job?” “What if nobody truly cares for me?” “What if I am just a burden to those around me?” “Who really wants me around anyway?” “Does God really care?” “I’m sure God doesn’t want to hear about this?” “I can never fulfil what God wants me to do” “How can He use someone useless like me?”
The list is endless. The thoughts run at what feels like 1000 thoughts per second. Over and over, without any relief. If some of these thoughts sound familiar to you then, like myself, you have probably experienced anxiety to some level in the past or present.
I lived in a chronic state of anxiety for many years. I was constantly thinking, constantly on edge, constantly in a state of “what if”.
Anxiety, as defined by the Cambridge dictionary, is an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or worry about something that is happening or might happen in the future. This definition, for my personal experience, is correct and what is important to note – anxiety, often, spurs worry about something that might happen. What this definition does leave out, is the many effects of anxiety – from not sleeping, not eating to not being able to socialise, interact and make connections amongst many other things.
Whilst I do not negate that anxiety is a very real feeling and reality for some. I do believe – because I have SEEN it in my life – that anxiety can be overcome. Anxiety does not have to be a state of being, it can be worked through and overcome. Does this mean you will never be confronted with a situation that can initiate anxiety? No. But it does mean you can CHOOSE how you respond in those situations, whether you let it overcome you or if you rise above it.
For me, as always, I find relief and assurance in His word. One of my go-to scriptures when it comes to attacking anxiety is Philippians 4:6-7 in the AMPC as it speaks directly to anxiety and commands it out.
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything” is the first thing said in this verse. It is a command and not a plea – you are explicitly being told what NOT to do. It does not say “try not to fret”, it does not say “you can fret and have anxiety about some things”. No! It says DO NOT FRET OR HAVE ANXIETY ABOUT ANYTHING. Anything = ALL things. There is nothing that should lead you to be in a chronic state of fret or anxiety.
How? You ask, how is that even possible? Thankfully, the how is given in the remainder of the verse. “in every circumstance and in everything” we are instructed to pray, petition, and give thanks. In EVERY circumstance – that is good, bad, ugly, and unspoken. We do not just come to God when things are good, we do not come to Him in the bad times alone but in every single circumstance we find ourselves in. So, if you do find yourself confronted with anxiety, rather than fret and let it stew – bring it to Him in prayer, petition and with thanksgiving. This is the instruction; this is the command. Another important thing to note, we are called to “continue” making these wants known to God. It is not a onetime thing, any time anxiety tries to arise, even when it does not, always make your wants known to Him. God is not even saying situations where anxiety is present will not arise, but He is saying – when they do BRING THEM TO HIM.
And the result of doing this? “God’s peace shall be yours”. What reassurance, what hope! What a great thing this is. To have peace, you must not have anxiety but pray, petition, and thank God and continue to make those wants known. But this is not just a normal peace. This is a “tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ” – this statement alone should give you peace.It is a peace which transcends all understanding – this is to say, it does not make sense to the human mind. It does not make sense to be peaceful when the situation is one that should be making you fall apart. It does not make sense to be peaceful even when others around you are everything but. This peace goes beyond what you can comprehend with your mind and, therefore, I urge you to just embrace it. Be grateful for it and embrace it.
This peace is not just there for the sake of being there, but it is given to garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. To garrison is to put a group of soldiers in a place to defend that place and to mount guard is to organise people to watch over or protect a place. So, this peace is in place to watch over, protect and defend your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus against any anxiety thereby, ENSURING YOU ARE FILLED WITH HIS PEACE. Today, KNOW that God desires for you to live in a state of peace not anxiety, give your worries over to Him!