You lay in bed, trying to sleep, but you can’t. The minutes fly by and soon the hours, but you can’t stop thinking– your brain is going a million miles a minute playing out scenarios, ideas, replaying past events, wondering where you went wrong. You ask why this is happening to you and what you will do about it. You see no answers or easy path forward. You are dealing with anxiety.
Anxiety is worry, impatience, restlessness, unease, or eagerness to see things happen— and if left unchecked can have disastrous effects on our health, relationships, even our faith!
To root out this issue, we have to dig deep.
Most of us believe anxiety is driven by our circumstances – financial instability, conflict in relationships, uncertainty about the future, feeling a loss of control, etc…but those are just circumstances. They are still part of the surface. What is the root problem when I am experiencing the financial instability, a broken relationship, or uncertainty about the future?
Writing to the church in Philippi, Paul said to rejoice and not be anxious, Phil 4:4-7 but instead, to tell God what you need. In turn, He will give us peace. In fact, he says that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ. But how would that work?
It had to do with what they believed at their core.
The Philippian church was facing persecution and false teachers were trying to incorporate the old Jewish laws and customs into Christianity. Paul strongly warned them against this, urging them to put no confidence in circumcision, (part of Old Testament law,) or any other works of the flesh for that matter. Phil 3:2-4
Because confidence in the flesh produces anxiety.
Paul had an impressive pedigree and life of adhering to the Old Testament law and system, but he said they were useless, rubbish, refuse – he counted everything he had previously relied on for righteousness as a total loss! Phil 3:4-9
“I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ— righteousness that is from God and is by faith.” Phil 3:8-9
Paul realized that he had no self–righteousness that could compare to the righteousness of Christ, so he could no longer put any confidence in the flesh– living by rules, coming from the right family, working hard to please God– all the things that he previously did and believed were still not enough.
Everything we think we can do or be in order to become righteous is placing confidence in our flesh, not in Christ!
This is a HUGE problem because:
CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH PRODUCES ANXIETY, BUT CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST PRODUCES PEACE!
That’s great news to those who struggle with anxiety because at its core, anxiety is fueled by the belief that “I” possess the strength, power, intellect, resources, or whatever I rely most upon, to meet my needs and direct my own life path effectively and successfully. But is that really true?
Now we’re getting to the root of our anxiety– the idea that we can / must do things on our own. Unfortunately, that is a lie, a deception, a falsehood. We cannot place confidence in our good works, in our abilities, in our relationships, our efforts, our planning, our even own wisdom. They are all of the flesh– and as Paul explained, we can have no confidence in the flesh!
We are NOT:
- strong enough on our own,
- righteous before God on our own, or
- wise enough on our own.
We CANNOT control:
- our circumstances,
- others around us, or
- the future.
The reality of our insufficiency is what creates anxiety!
Now that we have identified the root of our anxiety, what do we do about it?
1) Declare the loss!
Like Paul, we must get to a place where we count it ALL (our work, efforts, and abilities) a total loss! Phil 3:7
2) Rejoice in the Lord!
Remember, Paul told the Philippians that rejoicing in the Lord is a safeguard for our hearts! Phil 3:1
3) Tell God what you need!
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, [that’s the rejoicing part] present your requests to God. And the PEACE that transcends all understanding will GUARD your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!” Phil 4:6
4) Seek His kingdom, not your own!
Jesus explained to his disciples that worrying about things was pointless, calling them to greater faith in the Father. Luke 12:22-31 He reasoned that if worrying does not add so little as an hour to our lives, a small feat according to Jesus, then why do it at all?
He maintained that God the Father is faithful to provide food for the birds of the air and clothing for the flowers of the field, with beauty that rivals King Solomon in all of his splendor! Therefore, He will do the same for His children, because we are worth much, much more to the Father!
And here is the brilliance of Jesus’ teaching to the disciples…not only did he perfectly describe a pattern of behavior that would be damaging and destructive to their faith, (worry) He offered an alternative focus which would serve them much better!
“But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:31
Ridiculously simple, right? I know, simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. It takes faith and changing our focus. But if we:
- declare our self-effort and sufficiency, a total loss,
- rejoice in the Lord for all He has done and assures us He will do,
- tell Him what we need, and
- seek His Kingdom
then comes His peace. It guards our hearts and minds in Christ- giving us rest from our anxious thoughts.
Of course, you can continue to be ruled by anxiety. You can continue to let it disrupt your health, relationships, and your faith. You can wrestle endlessly with the belief that you can and will eventually orchestrate events that will bring about the relief you need. But that is not wise. Wisdom is finding truth and acting on it. Now that you know the truth about anxiety are you ready to act on it?
What will YOU do TODAY to banish anxiety from your heart?
In my next post, I will explain how to break the endless cycle of anxiety once and for all with 3 easy actionable steps! If you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends!