Anxiety is a monster. It can cripple us or make us act in ways that we would never otherwise act. It can cause us to believe the most incredible of lies, and can even keep us from the things we care about the most.
Anxiety has the ability to make us forget the things we know to be true.
Here are 6 things you need to remember when anxiety takes over.
1. YOU DON’T KNOW THE FUTURE.
Fear and anxiety almost always have to do with the future.
Where will the money come from? What will the doctor’s test results say? Is he/she going to leave me? Will my position be a part of the company’s downsizing?
What makes anxiety so powerful is the thing that should conceivably make it powerless. That is, the future is unknown.
We don’t know what’s going to happen. Yet we act like prophets, predicting a gloomy future. We convince ourselves that particular events will take place which, in reality, rarely do.
Usually we turn out to be far more pessimistic than prophetic.
That’s why Jesus tells us, “Don’t worry about these things, saying [to yourself], ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs,” (Matt. 6:31-32).
2. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
When we become anxious we forget that there are people who care about us and will not abandon us to do it all alone.
Whether it is your family, your church, or your community, you are not alone. There are people you can talk to who love you, who will listen to you and who truly want what’s best for you.
Above all, you have a Heavenly Father who promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5).
3. GOD HAS NEVER FAILED YOU.
Anxiety makes us forget all the ways God has come through in the past. When we have been in need, God has always provided.
Why do we still not trust Him?
We are like the Israelites in Exodus who, after God miraculously split the Red Sea for them to escape the Egyptians, doubted that God would provide food for their survival.
We need to remember God’s faithfulness in the past. May we declare with faith, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread,” (Ps. 37:25).
4. GOD IS BOTH GOOD AND SOVEREIGN.
Most of us tend to gravitate toward one or the other. God is either good or sovereign. But can He really be both?
For those of us who have an easier time believing God is sovereign and is able to keep bad things from happening to us, it’s easy to sometimes doubt His goodness because He doesn’t always keep bad things from happening.
For those of us who trust that He is good, it’s hard to reconcile that with His sovereignty because, if He doesn’t want bad things to happen to us then He must not be powerful enough to stop them.
But God is both sovereign and good. He is in complete control of your life and He works all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). We may go through difficulty, but He will walk through it with you and give you grace to get through it. His “grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
There is nothing to fear because the Almighty God is on your side.
5. GOD HEARS YOU.
It’s hard to have faith when it seems like so many of our prayers go unanswered.
Is God even listening?
But I wonder how often it is that our prayers actually are answered and we are just not paying attention? Some of the most encouraging seasons in my faith are the seasons when I have used a prayer journal.
You write down your prayers in a journal, and leave space to come back later and write down the answer. Sometimes it isn’t that prayer doesn’t work, but that we forgot what we prayed for. So when God does answer our prayer we aren’t even paying attention.
Keeping a prayer journal gives you tangible proof to look back on and remember that God hears you when you pray.
Unfortunately, we often still have doubt even when our prayers are answered.
C. S. Lewis talks about this in The Screwtape Letters.
He says that even when God does answer our prayers, “[We can] see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and therefore ‘it would have happened anyway,’ and thus a granted prayer becomes just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective.”
But our God does hear us. And He encourages us to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7).
6. THE VALUE OF SUFFERING.
Even if what you fear does happen to you, there is hope in the hurt.
It’s easy to talk about the value of suffering when you are not currently suffering. But when a hard season comes, it’s often all but impossible to be confident that there is anything of value here.
But there is always promise in the pain.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” (Romans 5:3-5).
We never rejoice for our sufferings but we can rejoice in our suffering. Because God is always working in the background to use it to make us more like Him and bring us closer to Him.
Suffering in itself isn’t good, and it certainly isn’t enjoyable. It hurts.
But suffering has value because it often bears such wonderful fruit in our lives that we are, in a sense, thankful for it after we have come through it.
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