Have you ever felt pulled in several directions at once? You know you should have faith in God, and yet worry and anxiety have a chokehold upon your whole life. The future seems dim. Your life is at a standstill. Sleep escapes you. God seems very distant. Despair is ruling your life. What can you do?
The word “worry” comes from the West Germanic word, “wrygen” which means “to strangle” or “to choke”. Worry not only chokes our spiritual life, but also our emotional, social, and physical life. God knows the power that worry and anxiety have upon us. He tells us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
How do we break this chokehold that worry and anxiety have upon us? God gives us several ways to break this chokehold.
1. Understand the consequences that worry and anxiety have upon our lives. The words “be careful for nothing” have the idea of “stop being pulled in different directions”. Worry is sin because it keeps us from giving glory to God. It also keeps us from serving God and others to our full capacity. Worry causes us to doubt the goodness of God. This creates confusion in our lives. For these reasons and many others, God commands us to stop worrying.
2. Focus upon God and not upon our circumstances. The above passage says, “Let your request be made known unto God.” God is the source of peace. When our eyes turn from our trials and are focused upon God, we will see the greatness of God’s power, wisdom, love and sovereignty. We know that we can trust Him regardless of what comes our way. God is greater than any circumstance in our lives.
3. Talk to God about the source of our worry and anxiety. The passage says: “but in everything by prayer and supplication”. God, our loving Father, wants us to take every hurt, misunderstanding, health issue, family issue, financial problem, doubt, and personal issue unto Him. He alone can carry that burden. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Worry and anxiety say I will carry my burden. Faith says I will take that burden to the Lord and leave it there.
4. Learn to give thanks to God in everything. Many problems and heartaches that choke us can be turned into blessings when we learn to give God thanks in everything that happens. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Th 5:18) This doesn’t mean we thank God for everything. When we thank Him in everything, we are saying to God: “I commit this circumstance, person or problem that is choking my life unto you. I thank you that you are fulfilling your great purpose in my life even in the midst of this great trial or burden.”
5. Enjoy God’s promise of His Peace. God tells us that His peace “passeth all understanding”. God’s presence and peace shine forth in those who face their deepest trials with faith in Him. I have been beside many people who are facing death and yet they had a peace that passes all human wisdom. God’s peace doesn’t make sense to people around us because His peace isn’t based upon circumstances. It is based upon the enjoyment of His presence.
God doesn’t want any of us to be continually pulled in two directions. He wants us to turn our faces directly towards Him. The songwriter wrote: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.” God will break the chokehold of anxiety and worry in our lives. Will we trust Him to do so? “The truth shall make you free.”
-Mark J. Booth-