It has haunted me for many years. It creeps its voice into the very depths of my soul in the darkness of night. It is a monster. A monster seeking to destroy anyone that it can. A monster so powerful that it can end lives. A monster if not tamed will consume every part of your being. A monster that can crush dreams, wreck families, and destroy everything that you love. This monster goes by two names fear and anxiety. This monster will destroy you and turn you against yourself it wants to control EVERYTHING. I have battled this monster for many years. I have fought this monster in the dead of night when all hope seems lost. This monster has once consumed me, but no more. There is a cure.
As a culture we have accepted anxiety as the new normal. It hangs its evil head over our generation sneering because it has defeated us. Or has it? It has crept its way into the minds of our youth who think it is normal to have anxiety about every aspect of life. We have left our minds and our hearts unguarded for far too long. Instead of facing our problems we have hidden them behind the guise of television, social media, and the thousands of other distractions that are in this world. It is time to wake up. Time to realize that this is not, and should not be normal. As a society we have lived this way for far to long and enough is enough. It is time to come to the cure, it is time to turn our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ.
In Phillipians 4:6-9 Paul really lays out a foundation for an anxious free life it says " 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (NASB) First I really want to dive into verse six. Here Paul says be anxious for NOTHING but through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God. This brings us to step 1 of an anxious free mind.
Step 1: Prayer with a thankful heart.
You might be saying to yourself "Isaac I pray every day and it just doesn't work". The question I have for you is this- are you praying with a thankful heart? Are you coming before the Almighty God thankful for anything and everything in your life? You may feel that you have nothing to be thankful for, so let us go over the facts. In Matthew 6 Jesus goes over this topic in detail" 25For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clotheyou? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek firstHis kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. " (NASB) We as human beings can tend to be ungrateful for what we have but the reality is that if you have food, shelter, and clothing there is not much more that you truly need. EVERYTHING above these things should be considered a gift and a blessing in our lives. We live in a culture that is consumed with material wealth while in the meantime we become ungrateful selfish people. We forget that the greatest gift of all had been offered to us. A gift so great that it makes everything else in life seem small. This gift is Jesus Christ. Jesus came to save us from eternity in Hell. There is no greater gift than this. Romans 5:8 says that But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,Christ died for us." (NASB) The God of the universe sent down His only son because He loves us. The God who speaks life into existence cares for YOU. He sent His son to die for YOU so that we could have eternal life with Him in glory. Now that is something to be thankful for! We can never be thankful until we understand the amazing gift that we have in Jesus Christ. This gift trumps all material gains and makes them seem utterly worthless. It is with this in mind that we should come before our savior in prayer. Not with a grumbling complaining heart, but with one that is thankful for EVERYTHING in their life. With a spirit of thankfulness one tends to forget about the worries and fears of life. We shift our focus from ungratefulness to gratefulness. Put simply you reap what you sow. Once we understand the gravity of what God has done for us there is no way we can be unthankful.
Step 2: Control your mind
"Garbage in garbage out". This is what I always say to my small group boys at youth group. We are extremely good at distracting ourselves in this life with things that amp up our fears and worries. We are CONSTANTLY stimulated by the things around us whether that be Music, News, Social Media, TV, Video games etc. We feel that we must constantly be entertained. We fill our heads with the constant murmur of entertainment and it is KILLING us. It is destroying our minds and filling them with worries. We think that we are fine if we read 5 minutes of the Bible in the morning and then head out for our day. We forget that we are in a war for our very souls. The Devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy and he will stop at nothing to do so. The world will chew you up and spit you out if you do not control what you are putting in your mind. The mind is more powerful than we can ever know and we must learn to use it unto God. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says this "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ'" (NASB) Do you know what it means to take every thought captive? This is a concept that a lot of times can be missed or misused. It does NOT mean trying really hard to avoid bad thoughts or thoughts of fear and anxiety. It DOES mean that you take these thoughts captive and REPLACE them with the Word of God. Just as Paul said in our verse earlier whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. I know this sounds very simple and to easy to be true, but lets think for a moment about the author Paul.
Paul was at one point a religious Jew who followed the law to the letter. Paul also made it his mission to kill christians. Paul was a witness to MURDER and a MURDERER. This is the man that God chose to deliver a message about anxiety in His holy word. Don't you think that Paul struggled with fear and anxiety more than any of us? I for one think that he laid awake at night sweating with the faces of those that he had killed flashing before his mind. He probably replayed the scenes over and over again of the treacherous acts he preformed. Knowing that he tore families apart and killed innocent people probably wrecked him! I cannot imagine the pain he went through knowing he KILLED believers in Christ. All the while God chose Paul to be the bearer of a game plan to avoid worry and anxiety. God and only God helped Paul through his battle and in turn has shown us the way.Paul knows that you can only truly overcome anxiety when you know the true and ultimate cure Jesus Christ. We must learn to take our thoughts captive and replace them with the Holy Word of God.
Step 3 Let Go
We who struggle with for and anxiety have a tendency to dwell in our circumstances. Even if we have done all that is necessary to defeat anxiety we tend to hold on just a bit. It is alm
ost as if it is a comfort for us to fall into depression and dark days. This is what we know. It is comfortable. We crave the familiarity of our fears and worries. We want to wallow in our own self pity, because we think deep down we deserve it. Should we live in defeat because it is our "normal"? By no means! We were paid for and bought with a price! The God of the universe sent His son Jesus Christ to die for YOU. He came so that not only could you be saved from eternal damnation , but also that you could live through HIS power each and every day. We can't defeat depression and anxiety alone no matter how much we want and long to be alone. We need a savior. Jesus Christ is the only one who can bring ultimate healing to our broken and shattered hearts. He has called us to come out of our fear and anxiety and follow him. If we continue to live in our anxiety and depression and choose to stay there it is wrong. We were bought with a high price it is time we start living this way. Jesus has saved us from the pits of hell and from the hell we are going through each and every day. It is a day by day task of surrendering our fears and anxieties to the one who can take it all away. This will not happen overnight , but you must start NOW. It is time to live in Christ's forgiveness. The past is gone. There is no reason to dwell on things we can not change. The only thing that we can change is how we live each and every day. Are you going to surrender to God the Father or are you going to continue to seclude to your comfortable depression that we all know so well? The choice is yours.
Anxiety and fear are a constant battle. You may be reading this and feel like you have no hope or that your life does not matter. You feel that you are all alone and the world would be better off if you were to just disappear. I understand this feeling deeply. I have felt this feeling deep in my bones in the darkness of night when it feels like there will never be light again. It seems that you have chains shackled around your body and you will never break free. I have woken up in the middle of the night feeling like I was going to die because the panic attacks started again. I have begged God to let me live while lying postrate on the floor thinking that any moment I would leave my family for good. I KNOW THE PAIN you are going through, but there is hope. This hope is only truly found in Jesus Christ. God sent his only son down to earth to die for you. Jesus lived a perfect life and did no wrong. He was falsely accused and ordered to be put to death. In order for our relationship to be restored there had to be a sacrifice. The Jews sacrificed animals, but it was never enough to truly cover their sins .Only the pure and spotless Lamb Jesus Christ could eternally atone for our sins. Therefore Jesus was sentenced to a criminals death on a cross. Romans 5:8 says "But God demonstrates his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (NASB) The Creator of the world, the Almighty Lord, the Great I AM came to this world and DIED for YOU. He did this because He loves YOU. You matter to the Almighty, he loves you. You may feel that no one is there. This is NOT true. Before the creation of the world God knew that he was going to sacrifice his life specifically for you. You matter to the King of Kings. Jesus not only died a criminals death on the cross, he also took all sin past, present, and future upon himself before he took his final breaths. Every painful thing, every wretched sin committed he took upon himself on that cross because he loves YOU. He then died with the final words being PAID IN FULL. Your sins past, present, and future were in that moment paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. He has paid your debt. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NASB) We deserved to die but Jesus Christ paid it all for us. Three days after this magnificent display of love occurred Jesus Rose from the dead. Jesus DEFEATED death. Death no longer has the power. Through Jesus' resurrection we now can have eternal