As I have matured and grown older I have seen some of my past characteristics fade away, and some new ones emerge. Much like many of my friends (and maybe even you) I have found myself experiencing random anxiety attacks pretty frequently. This is definitely much more desirable than my past feelings of depression but I can’t help be feel like when Jesus promised “life to the full” in John 10:10 He was at least to some extent calling us out of those feelings and emotions that typically haunt us.
Don’t get me wrong, on this side of Heaven I don’t believe we will be ever completely cured of these mental illnesses (and no, simply praying it away is not an acceptable way to attack the problem) but I do believe that the Bible gives us a little instructions on how we should react to these emotions. I have boiled these instructions down into a three step process that helps me!
1.) In 2 Corinthians 5:10 Paul urges the Church to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” To me this means that it is my job to place my anxiety under arrest whenever I am starting to experience an attack. I usually start off by doing some deep breathing excersizes to slow myself down and begin to diagnose why I am feeling this way. During this time I tune into my thoughts and view them through the lens of Jesus. After all, he is the one who came to set us free from the upsetting thoughts that we face.
2.) The next step I find useful is to make sure I properly place God in my life. David cries out in Psalm 16:8 and states “I have set the Lord continually before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” When I am reminded that the Lord lives in me and is always protecting me, it makes it much easier to escape the worry or fear that is causing me to be anxious. Time and time again God has proved that He will always provide. If I can remember this life feels much more secure.
3.) My final step in helping to rid myself of anxiety is to remember that there is grace enough for my weakness. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But the Lord said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.'” Being anxious can bring up many other bad emotions, especially the feeling of failure. I find it helpful to remind myself that in my weakness God is trying to teach me something about myself and continually show me the grace that only He can offer.
In some way I’m thankful for my anxiety because it is a continual reminder that I am still a man in need of a Savior. While I may never be completely rid of anxiety, I know that Lord will always be ready and able to refresh me, and set me back on the paths of joy.