Anxiety is on the rise.
My heart breaks over the impact current events are having upon the mental health of people of all ages and stages of life. I’m sure you can relate to these concerns. I don’t think anyone has gone untouched by this difficult season in history.
So, why is it that some people fair better than others in turbulent times? And what can you learn from them to help you discover real reasons why you worry––and how to combat concerns?
Here Are 4 Things You’re Doing That Are Keeping You Anxious
1. Thinking on wrong things.
Proverbs 23:7 reminds us, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Let’s take a moment to consider this proverb. You’ve likely heard the adage, You are what you eat ––right?
Believe me, I totally relate to this adage as I’m on day #29 of the 40 Day Sugar Fast. I love me some sugar. But it don’t love me! As a result of consuming lots of sweets my joints were aching. Fasting from sugar takes away the pain, and makes me feel so much better. I hate to admit it, but I cannot dispute the evidence.
In the same way, what your thoughts feast on will define who and what you become. If you rehearse in your mind all that might go wrong, you’ll make yourself anxious and fearful. And if you’re talking about what makes you anxious, you’ll likely kindle worry in those around you, especially your children (if you have them).
Battling anxious thoughts is not a simple task. Especially if you’re in the habit worrying. In his book, When I Am Afraid, author Edward T. Welch says, “The first step toward overcoming your fears is to locate them…The attractiveness of God’s words to you depends on it. If you can’t see your fears and worries then God’s words of comfort won’t go deep.”
So, to disarm fearful thoughts rolling around in your head, causing you to worry, Welch suggests you take time to list:
- Fears you can locate immediately.
- Worries that arise when you consider losing something/someone important to you.
- Concerns about your own death, illness or personal loss.
Welch says if you listen to your fears it will help you determine what crisis you are predicting as you ponder your concerns. Welch says, “Fear and worry are prophecies.”
And what we predict will come to pass reveals a great deal of what we believe about God. So, listen well to your pondering, because they will reveal to you the root of your worry, which lies in what you really believe about God.
2. Forgetting who is in control.
Fear and worry reveal much about your walk with God. If you have a real relationship with Him, through repentance and surrender to Christ, then God promises to become your Father.
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard that God is your Heavenly Father who promises to work all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). But, why is there a disconnect between knowing this truth, and applying it to our worrisome thoughts? Where do you and I get stuck? And what can we do about it?
Again, let’s ponder an insight from Welch, “We are God’s offspring who either run from Him or run to Him. Those are the only two possibilities.”
Even when you find yourself on the preverbal fence––trusting God a little and trusting yourself a little, it reveals that in your vacillating you’ve made the decision to turn from God to trust in yourself, or someone else, which is idolatry.
For me personally, this is where the battle lies. I hear something disturbing on the news, my mind immediately begins to worry about what kind of world we are leaving our grandchildren. If I’m not careful that worry grows to anxiety. This has the potential to render me useless for what God wants to do through me on any given day. Can I get a witness?
If you find yourself in similar circumstances, you are not alone. There is comfort in knowing you’re not the only one struggling, right? But God has made a way for you to break free from this anxious cycle by beckoning you to His Word.
The Bible is filled with real life accounts of people who lived through troubled times and personal loss. And in those seasons, God reveals His character.
For example Hagar said, “He is the God who sees”
Abraham said, “He is the God who provides”
And one of my favorite accounts is when God responded to King Jehoshaphat’s worry:
“Thus says the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
Did you get chills reading God’s very words to the worried king? Let me repeat it in case you missed it: “The battle is not yours––but God’s!”
Can I get a hallelujah? But, how quickly we forget God is our Banner unless we are regularly washing our minds with the water of the word (Ephesians 5:26). This brings me to the next reason why you and I worry.