Overcoming Anxiety. That emotion draining, heavy breathing, thing we do when life seems out of control.

She said goodbye yesterday. She smiled, and walked down the corridor to her gate. It was the moment she had been waiting for her entire life. The moment when she would hop on a plane and travel to a faraway country. The moment when she would experience the freedom she has longed for since birth. She is my 19 year old daughter.

I gave my notice. At the end of the month I am going to leave the ministry I dearly loved. God made it clear it was time for me to move on. What will you do? I don’t know. I have had several job interviews, and no job offers. My last day came and I didn’t have a job waiting for me, but I was obedient to God when He said leave.

I watched them wheel him away. Something inside of me said things were going downhill, but since the doctors weren’t saying anything I maintained hope that he would get better. We will bring your dad right back. It’s just a quick test. He came back, but his face was green. He passed away not long after.

Life is just tough sometimes. Each day we are faced with situations that are out of our control. When we face situations that we can’t control we begin to have fear. Anxiety develops from this fear and serves as an external sign that we aren’t handling things well. So what is going on?

It seems almost right that I should have anxiety when my daughter flies to another country, when I leave a job and don’t have another one lined up, or when I am faced with my father’s cancer. Who wouldn’t be anxious? We are talking about some serious situations.

Yet, God commands us not to be anxious.

34Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Matt. 6:34

We may read this verse, memorize it and try real hard not to be anxious. If you are like me, however, this doesn’t always fix our anxiety. So now what?

Looking at the following passage we find a theme to our anxiety.  Note the words in bold.

25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

The theme is you, or us. When we are anxious we are really worried about us. What will happen to me, how will I feel, how will I handle this, me, me, me and me. Think about the last situation that caused you a lot of anxiety. Be honest and ask yourself what you are really worried about?

We often believe that we are others focused and that our care for others is why we become anxious, however, this may not be true. I don’t want my daughter to get hurt. Yet when fear sets in over her being in a plane crash I am really concerned about me. How will I handle her death, how will I live without her, how will I? At the core is a focus on me.

The good news is God provides us with the way out. This technique does work.  Let’s continue in Matthew:

26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Instead of being anxious God wants us to:

  • Look at the birds. God provides for them. God’s system of provision for the birds is an example of how He will take care of you. In fact He will take care of you even more because you are more valuable.
  • Consider the lilies of the field. The lilies grow and they don’t have to work for their growth. God decorates the grass with beautiful temporary lilies. Consider how much more He will clothe you whom He sent His son to die for and will live for an eternity.
  • But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Instead of being concerned about you, first, seek God first. Put off putting yourself first, and put on putting God first. Look at what He has done, consider how He already provides and seek Him first.

God expects us to take action. He expects us to put off sin, and put on godly living. He has given us steps to take to obey His commands. Today I was reminded that my anxiety is often self-centered and that I need to shift my focus to God. When I do I find the peace that surpasses all understanding.

The airplane ride is long, but consider what God can do, what He has done, and seek serving and loving Him before considering the ‘what might happen to me scenarios’.

I might not be able to pay my bills without a job, but consider how God provides for the birds, how He clothes the grass, and seek and serve Him before becoming overly concerned with what might happen to me if I don’t get a job soon.

Dad came back that day from his tests, but he died a short time after. God did provide what I needed to live through that experience, and focusing on Him helped me to prevent becoming anxious. Instead of worrying about me, I focused on God and that helped me focus on loving and serving others during that time.

A few minutes ago I found out my daughter landed safely.  The anxiety I had yesterday?  Well it grieved God, wasted time I could have used serving God, and did no one any good.  I am writing this as a reminder to me to think of God first.  Fear says you can’t control and need to.  Trust says you can’t control and don’t need to.  God’s in control.  We can trust Him.

I pray you will consider this passage, and seek what God might be teaching your through it.

For His glory, and because of His grace,

Marcy Pedersen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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