Have you ever had the experience of knowing something mentally but having an entirely different response emotionally? I have been grappling with this for the past few years.
Yes, intellectually I know God’s promises of inner peace, and yet I experience anxiety. I have seen God work for good in my life and in the lives of others, but on the other hand, emotionally, I fear. From early childhood, I have been described as a “card carrying worry -wart.” I have huge anxiety attacks in the middle of the night! What if my husband and I get sick? What if we are not able to find work? How will we be able to maintain ourselves? Stuff like that.
My study of the Bible has made it very clear that behind the excessive worry, anxiety, and tension with which I struggle is the problem of unbelief. I don’t like to name it that, but it is true. Unbelief.
Hebrews 3:12 says that unbelief leads us away from God. I can attest to that. God remains true and central, but it is I who move, in my unbelief, away from that centrality. God’s love and desire for us is amply expressed throughout Scripture and touchingly displayed in verses such as Ezekiel 36:9, “Behold, I am for you,” and Rev. 2:13, “1 know where you live.”
So, what can I do when I fall into a state of crippling anxiety? One of the most helpful passages for me is Phil. 4:6-8 (Amplified), “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything but in EVERY circumstance and IN EVERYTHING by prayer and definite requests WITH THANKSGIVING continue to make your wants known to God.” The passage continues by speaking of God’s peace garrisoning and mounting guard over our hearts and minds. The concluding verse speaks of whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, “if there is any excellence, anything worthy of praise, think on these things … fix your mind on them.” It takes a deliberate mental decision to stem the tide of anxiety, to “cut ’em off at the pass,” so to speak, to say “whoa” to the flood of worry that roars in.
I try to review the promises that God has made and claim them:
Isaiah 41:10. “Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am you God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 43:1-3. ”’Thus says the Lord, he who created you …he who formed you … Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you, for I am the Lord your God.”
Psalm 34:4. “1 sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
Isaiah 26:3. “You will keep in perfect peace he (or she) whose mind is stayed on you because he (or she) trusts in you.”
Job 22:21. “Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.
Col. 3:15. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts….”
And where would I be without Psalm 37 and also Psalm41 which expressed so well how I feel: “As the heart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God…. I say to God, my rock: ‘What has thou forgotten me?’ Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? … Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.”
That last quote brings up an important point. Satan would rob you and me of our peace and firm belief. 1 Peter 5:7-9 speaks of casting all our anxieties on God for he cares for us; it also calls our adversary, the devil, a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, and it calls us to resist him and remain firm in our faith. Eph.6:10-18 reveals armor provided the believer by God to withstand the attacks of the evil one. Psalm 108:12-13 tells us that with God, we will do valiantly, that it is he (God) who will tread down our foes. I John 4:4 says “Greater is he that is in you [the Holy Spirit] than he who is in the world.”
Finally, two passages from the Psalms help me to deal with my fear. Psalm 138:3 (Amplified): “In the day when I called you, you answered me, and strengthened me with strength, might, and inflexibility to temptation in my inner self.” So when I feel fragmented and indecisive, I pray using the words of Psalm 86:11: “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name.” God keeps His promise.