How to Be Still When Anxiety Comes Knocking
Depression / Mental Illness
By Keren Kanyago, Crosswalk.com
"I need to have your husband admitted to the hospital immediately," the doctor said gently to me. My tears flowed freely as I peered at the grim medical report he had handed me. I then flopped down on the nearby seat and bawled helplessly. "What will I do, Lord?" I cried. Grief overtook me as harrowing images conjured up in my mind. Four years before my husband's diagnosis, we had lost a close relative to the same ailment. That experience only served to fuel the fear welling up in my heart.
As I slipped deeper and deeper into despair, a beautiful Scripture weaved its way into my heart, offering a sliver of hope. "Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (Psalm 46:10). "Please, God, how can you ask me to be still when my world is caving in?" I prayed. But God's grace was sufficient in my hour of need. Regardless of the storm I was smack dab in, I decided to trust God to quiet my fears and give me peace.
Jesus warned that believers would face many troubles in this world. But He asked us to be of good cheer, seeing that He had overcome the world (John 16:33). We all know that it's not always easy to chin up when the storm is raging, its waves threatening to take us out. But the Bible offers us several ways to be still when anxiety comes knocking. Here are four of them.
1. Do Not Forget God's Previous Acts
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2)
It's easy to lose sight of what God has done for us in the past when we are faced with new overwhelming challenges. We may easily discard hope and cow in fear when challenges pounce on us. Prophet Elijah was no exception. After having experienced great victory on Mount Carmel, where God sent down fire to consume the sacrifice (which had been drenched in water), we shortly see him running for his life. One moment he was miraculously demonstrating God's power, and the next, he was begging God to take away his life, having lost all hope.
The Israelites too often seemed to forget the wondrous ways through which God had delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh. With the Egyptians hot on their heels, God parted the red sea, and they went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and left. (Exodus 14: 22). Shortly after this astounding miracle, we see them grumbling against Moses at Marah after suffering thirst. (Exodus 15: 22-24).
In praising God, David declared that God daily loads humankind with benefits (Psalm 68:19). In Psalm 103:2, we see David urging his soul to bless the Lord and not to forget all His benefits. When going through turmoil, it helps to reflect upon what God has done for us in the past and the blessings we have received from Him. Doing this will remind us of his great power and help calm our troubled hearts.
2. Focus on God for Peace of Mind
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3)
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27).
Even when going through life's storms, God wants to envelop our minds and hearts with His peace. Jesus pointed out that the kind of peace He gives differs from the kind of peace that the world gives. It is a peace that surpasses human understanding. (Philippians 4:7). With this kind of peace, you can be still when everything around you spells doom. To experience this peace, God requires us to have our minds stayed on Him.
As such, we need to focus on God and His word and ignore the threats from the enemy. Remember Peter's experience? He saw Jesus walking on water and desired to do the same. Jesus graciously urged him to "come," and he did for a while. Until he shifted his focus from Jesus and started analyzing the boisterous wind. Having lost faith, the inevitable happened - he began to sink. We, too, need to have the proper focus if we are to experience peace in the storms we face. Our focus needs to be on God and the promises in His word.
3. Pray and Pray Some More
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6).
"Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray." (James 5:13)
"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest." (Mathew 28: 11)
Prayer is another antidote to anxiety. When we pray, we acknowledge our complete dependence on God. We are also relinquishing our fears, frustrations, and worries, leaving them at the feet of Jesus. Many promises in God's Word assure us that God indeed answers prayer. Jesus promised that everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door shall be opened (Mathew 7:7).
As we commune with God in our distress, our anxiety is replaced with faith. Prayer also ushers us into the presence of the King of Kings. Truthfully, you cannot commune with the King and remain the same. Something has to give, and often it is fear and anxiety.
4. Remember That All Things Work Together for Good
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope." (Romans 5:3)
In the grand scheme of things, the trouble you are facing is not in vain. It is meant to produce certain traits that you may be lacking or birth a huge blessing. Jesus Himself had to face a harrowing death for humanity to be reconciled back to God. We see Jesus getting extremely distressed as He anticipated His death. As He prayed, He asked the Father that if it was in His will, He could take away the cup of suffering from Him. The Scriptures also record that His sweat became like drops of blood ( Luke 22:44).
It was a brutally agonizing moment for Jesus, but through His death, God reconciled the world back to Himself. In our trouble, it is important to realize that God is working something better and greater for us. It's also important to remember that God always has a good plan for us. His intention is not to harm us but to offer us a future and hope. This realization helps to squash our anxiety.
Keren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at [email protected]