Anxiety is fear in search of a cause. It’s a feeling of hopelessness towards a perceived threat. Ultimately, it’s a desire for something that we can’t have, absolute predictive control. That’s the problem with anxiety and why it can become so gripping. It causes us to chase fervently after something that doesn’t exist. We search and we can’t find it, so we keep searching, harder and harder, despite how exhausted we get. It grabs a hold of us and puts us on this vicious cycle of fear, exhaustion, panic and worry. We desperately want off, but we’re even afraid of that.
Here’s the real deal: anxiety is a liar. More often than not, it tells us to fear when we shouldn’t. It tells us that, if we worry enough, our fears will go away and all will be well. It tells us that we must know all things and be in control of all things in order for bad things not to happen. It tells us that, if we don’t fret over these things, our children won’t be safe, our spouses will leave us, disease will be inevitable and no one will like us and accept us for who we are.
LIES. LIES. LIES
The truth is that God did not give us a spirit of fear; He gave us one of power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Aside from the fear we have when it is actually necessary for our survival, fear is not from God. Instead of fearing, He calls us to trust. He tells us that He is faithful, sovereign, merciful and full of grace and hope.
In reality, most of the fear and anxiety we experience resides in the future, but that is not where God’s grace is; it is here with us now, right now. God doesn’t front load His grace; He asks us to trust Him to give it to us when we need it, moment by moment. It is for that reason that we can move forward without fear. We can know that, no matter what comes our way, God and His grace will be there, too. We don’t need to know all the ins and the outs of the future; we need to trust that He does. “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8. He is the one who goes before us and makes the rough places smooth. He shatters the doors of bronze and cuts through the iron bars (Isaiah 45:2). There is no fear, no task, or no storm that will enter our lives that will be too big for the Creator of the Universe.
The problem we have with anxiety is that what we ultimately want is to not feel anxiety, but, sweet friends, never feeling anxiety or fear is not what God promises or commands. When He tells us not to fear, He isn’t telling us not to feel it; He is telling us that we don’t have to be afraid. (See above ..He is faithful, sovereign, merciful and full of grace and hope.)
Much to our dismay, the feeling of fear is something we are likely stuck with, but the control and power it can have over us is not. At the end of the day, we have a choice. We may have to sometimes feel the fear, but the real gift we have is that we get to decide what we do with it. Control it, or let it control us.
So, how about it? Do you want to allow fear to control you and keep you up at night agonizing or dreading over the future and all of the unknown what ifs?
Or do you want to put fear in its rightful place in submission to God?
Instead of putting your focus on all that you fear, put it on all that God is. You can’t choose your feelings but you can choose your focus! His grace is enough, dear ones, so take a deep breath and allow His perfect love to cast out all your fears.