“Anxiety disorders in the United States are the number one mental health problem among women and are second only to drug and alcohol abuse among men. In a given year, nearly fifty million Americans will feel the effects of a panic attack, phobias, or other anxiety disorders” (1).
External factors including job stress, financial burdens, difficulty in personal relationships, and traumatic events are the primary cause of anxiety. While the presence of stress is unavoidable, we can choose how we handle that stress. If left unresolved, it can lead to depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and other negative health effects.
Even Jesus battled anxiety. Before taken up on the cross, he prayed with such fervor that “this cup be taken from Him” that He literally sweated blood (Luke 22:44). The thought of enduring His crucifixion was too much for Him, but it wasn’t too much for God. Jesus recognized what He was feeling, went to God with those feelings, and allowed God to strengthen Him and transform his fears into faith. We too can adopt a kingdom-minded perspective on winning the war against anxiety.
BUILDING YOUR BATTLE PLAN AGAINST ANXIETY
Here are 3 biblical battle plans based on Max Lucado’s book, Anxious for Nothing, along with helpful resources to put the plans into action:
1. Fight anxiety by remaining CALM.
C – Celebrate God‘s goodness and choose to meditate on His Word instead of the mess.
“Rejoice in the Lord always.” Phil 4:4
A – Ask God for help.
“Let your requests be made known to God.” Phil 4:6
When you feel stressed, pause and ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” Is it comfort? Peace? Companionship? Go to God in prayer with your specific request.
L – Leave your concerns with him.
Ask God to help you discern between the things that are within your control and those which are not. Pray for courage to take action on the things you can change and “let go and let God” for the rest (see Serenity Prayer).
“Guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7
M – Meditate on good things.
Your problem is not your problem – your problem is the way you’re going about thinking about it. Let it go and set yourself free. Refocus your thoughts on what you have in Christ instead of what you don’t have in life and replace your bad attitude with gratitude.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Phil 4:8
2. Fight anxiety by relinquishing control.
Anxiety is often the consequence of perceived chaos. Unlike fear, which sees a threat, anxiety imagines one. It’s a series of “what-ifs” over which we have no control (1). Rather than seeking total control – an impossible task – we must relinquish it. We must focus less on doing and more on abiding – pursuing God in love, acting in obedience to His Word, and trusting in His plan. As our trust in God increases, our anxiety decreases.
“You have a limited quantity of wisdom, energy, patience, or time. What you have is nowhere what you need. You have a thimbleful, and you need bucket loads. Typically, you’d get anxious…This time, instead of starting with what you have, start with Jesus. Start with His wealth, His resources, and His strength…Before you lash out in fear, look up in faith. Take a moment. Turn to your Father for help” (1).
3. Fight anxiety with God’s grace.
Anxiety is often the consequence of guilt, but God’s grace restores what guilt steals from our souls (1). In order to win the battle against anxiety, we must stop condemning ourselves, seek His forgiveness, and allow His grace to wipe our slate clean. We should revisit our past long enough to learn from it, but not so long that we get stuck there. We must “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead,” keeping our eyes focused on Jesus (Phil 3:13).
“There is a reason the windshield is bigger than the review mirror. Your future matters more than your past” (1).
When Jesus called Peter to come to Him on the water, Peter started to sink the moment he took his eyes off Jesus and began focusing on the storm (Matthew 14:30). Jesus reached out to Peter, took his hand, and caught him, helping him into the boat. Once safely in the boat, the storm subsided and “those in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
When Peter doubted, Jesus reached out to Him and transformed his fear into faith. Similarly, as we go through storms of life, we must seek Jesus as our refuge, accept His help, and allow Him to help us transform our fears into faith.
CLAIMING OUR VICTORY
To claim our victory over anxiety, we must put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11). We must fasten the “belt of truth” tightly around our waist, allowing it to protect us against the lies and deceptions of the enemy. We must “take up the shield of faith” to guard against anxiety’s attack, put on the “helmet of salvation” to preserve our thinking and stay focused on Him, and pick up the “sword of the Spirit,” which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:16-17). In doing these things, we abide in Him.
“If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 ESV
Free from the constant barrage of “what ifs.”
Free from needing to feel in complete control.
Free from guilt and condemnation.
Free from anxiety.
* BONUS: Check out my favorite version of “It is Well with my Soul” by Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music.
** ADDITIONAL BONUS CONTENT: Subscribe to my site, Fueled Fit Focused, and gain access to Less Fret, More Faith (an 11-week Battle Plan on Overcoming Anxiety by Max Lucado), 10 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health, and other resources to live a healthier, more focused life. If you are already a subscriber, you can access the bonus content by logging in to the Subscribers Page. (Check your email for the password to login.)
** SPECIAL INVITATION (TIME-SENSITIVE): Join me in the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study for Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado and gain practical tips and tricks to win the war against anxiety. The next study kicks off on November 6 and will run through December 1. To register for free, click here!
1. Lucado, Max. (2017). Anxious for Nothing – Finding Calm in a Chaotic World. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson
2. Chernoff, Marc. (2017, April). 52 Good Morning Meditations that Will Calm the Chaos in Your Life. marc & angel HACK LIFE. Retrieved October 17th, 2017 from http://www.marcandangel.com/2017/04/23/52-good-morning-meditations-that-will-calm-the-chaos-in-your-life/