What are you letting speak into you more, the promises of God or the voices of this world?
Fear. Anxiety. Worry. These are words that most of us are familiar with and have experience with. Maybe as a kid you were afraid of the dark, but now you are fearful of things happening in the world beyond your control. Many of us face anxiety over upcoming tests or in social situations. We worry about how things are going to turn out, or what people might think of us. Fear, Anxiety, and worry are things we will all face at some point and deal with on some level– but the good news is that Jesus has a lot to say about it.
All over the bible you see commands that say, “do not be afraid”. If I’m being honest there was a time in my life when I truly believed that I had to overcome any feeling of fear, or else I was doing something wrong. That if I was afraid of sharks, I needed to be able to go cage diving, or if I was afraid of heights, I would need to go bungee jumping.
But that doesn’t make sense when you learn that we have a biological fear response. When we see something dangerous – sharks, fire, a sketchy person, our brain releases a chemical designed to make us more efficient in the face of danger. Our heart rate rises, our muscles get stronger, we can run faster, think clearer. This is a good thing because it keeps us alive! So why does the bible tell us not to fear if God created us to be able to respond to fear?
Well, with most things in life, Jesus is much more concerned with the state of our hearts than whatever the thing is. What I’ve learned is that the emotion of fear in and of itself is not bad, but we run into a problem whenever we let fear, worry, or anxiety control our lives *or* we place more trust in it than we do God. And where you place your trust makes all the difference.
I mean take a look at Isaiah 41:10 it’s God talking, and he says “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will surely help you; I will uphold you with my right hand of righteousness”. This verse is just like the hundreds of others in the bible that reference fear, worry, anxiety – and what God is saying is that because of our righteousness, our right standing with him, we have no reason to let fear, worry, or anxiety control our lives. If we trust in him, we are aware of how close he is to us, how powerful he really is, and we can be confident as we face different life circumstances because we trust more in God than whatever there is to fear.
At the end of the day, all fear, worry, and anxiety are areas of misplaced trust . We trust more in how the situation looks hopeless than God’s promise to use everything for our good – so we fear. We trust more when the world says we are all alone than when God says we are never alone – so we worry. And the impact it has on our lives is like getting your car stuck in the mud.
Have you ever gotten your car stuck in the mud? You start pressing on the gas, and the wheel is spinning, but instead of getting out of the ditch you actually sink further into it? That’s what fear and worry do to us. You know it to be true – when you can’t fall asleep because your mind is spinning with “what if” scenarios, or where you go in relational circles because you’re afraid to trust someone after being hurt that last time, where you’re so filled with anxiety that you can’t drive your car or ask the waitress for more ketchup.
We spend all this mental and emotional energy trying to get ourselves out of ditches of life, spinning and spinning, only to make the situation worse.
I know I’ve done that! Where a friend made a weird comment to me and I’ve made myself sick trying to figure out what they mean by that? Did I offend them? Do they hate me? Should I text them? What will I say next time I see them? Spinning myself up, making it seem much bigger than it actually is, when really, they didn’t mean anything by it and the conversation usually goes… hey did you mean to *fill in the blank*? And they usually respond – omg I had no idea that came across that way I am so sorry. And you’re like wow why in the world did I worry so much about that??
Yeah come on you know you’ve been there!!!
In John 10:10 Jesus says that “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. Fear, worry, and anxiety destroy your peace, they kill your joy, and ultimately, they steal your life away right from under you. & a life stuck in a cycle of fear, worry, and anxiety is NOT the abundant life that Jesus was dreaming about for you. Romans 14:17 says that the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
So, let me ask you – do you go throughout your life with a sense righteousness, peace, and joy? If not, don’t feel bad, because *we* are not the ones who can actually change that. No amount of self-help books will ultimately help because the answer can only ever be Jesus.
But that’s the point of it all anyways. We *cannot* get ourselves out of the ditches that we put ourselves in. That’s why we need a savior & that’s why Jesus came. The entire story of humanity from Adam and Eve until Jesus came was that humanity was in a ditch. We were stuck in sin because of our rebellion against God. & we were spinning and spinning trying to fix the separation between us and God that sin created through rules and sacrifices and only eat these kinds of foods on these certain days, sinking further into the ditch of religion and performance. But then Jesus came, and with his death on the cross he ended that cycle once and for all. Finally, humanity had a way out of the ditch and back onto the road of relationship with God.
Just like he did then, today Jesus can rescue us out of any ditch that we find ourselves in, no matter how deep we’ve sunk into it.
Jesus has given us a way out of the ditch of fear, anxiety, and worry. Those things don’t have to control our lives anymore.
That’s why Phil 4:6-8 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
Notice that he wants us to bring our worries and our fears to him so that he can free us from them. When I was a child and there was a scary thunderstorm, I would go sleep in my parent’s bed. And even though the wind was still howling, and the thunder was still rumbling, and the lightning was still striking, I slept fine because I trusted that my dad wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me.
In the same way – Fear, worry, and anxiety come from when we trust more in the thunderstorms of life than we do our good Fathers ability to keep us safe. But bringing those things to God reminds us that Jesus has already set us free from fear and given us victory over the situation, and so his peace guards your heart from misplaced trust, it guards your mind from endless worry so you are free to spend your time thinking about the true, right, and lovely things in life. Like how God is good, Jesus has forgiven me, I am loved, and everything is possible.
And that doesn’t mean there won’t be reasons to fear or worry in the future, it just means that you don’t have to be a victim to it.
Jn 16:33 Jesus tells us… “In this world you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
Where you place your trust changes everything!!
For me – A few years ago I really struggled with fear and anxiety. For about a year I had a panic attack almost every day. I had never struggled with anxiety before this, but just randomly, I would get afraid. And it was paralyzing. I was always worried about when I would have my next episode, it got in the way of my workday, dates with my then-boyfriend now-husband, I couldn’t get enough sleep because I would wake up fearful. And I didn’t know why, but when I had an episode, I always repeated the phrase “I can’t”. And in a sense, that was true. *I* was not able to handle all of the “storms” in my life. They were bigger than me. And I think for a long time I had been trusting in myself, to navigate life. My first response to a problem was “How can *I* solve this?” Not how can I give this to God because he is much bigger and smarter than me. My fear came from misplaced trust. I trusted in the “facts” of how I felt, the “facts” of medical diagnoses, the “facts” of the broken relationships in my life, more than I trusted Jesus.
And I tried a bunch of things, breathing techniques, stuff like that, but nothing helped… except for what Phil 4 told me to do. 1. Take it to God. Sometimes, man, all I could do was say the name Jesus, but I would say it over and over again. 2. Focus on what’s right with God instead of what’s wrong with the world. I read my bible more so that when there was a reason to fear, I could speak the promises of God over my life.
And if you and I were sitting down talking about this, the first step I would encourage you to take is to look at what you are letting speak into you. What “input” is coming into your life? What gets the majority of your time and focus? What are you letting speak into you more – the promises of God or the voices of this world?
If faith comes by hearing (Rom 10:17), your faith grows in whatever you listen to the most. And if what you put in front of you, whether on a screen, in your relationships, or even what you say to yourself isn’t rooted in truth, isn’t based on trusting Jesus, is discouraging… that’s what your faith is going to grow in…resulting in fear, anxiety, and worry.
But if you are spending your time finding the promises of God for yourself, watching media that is encouraging and life-giving, spending your time serving those around you, your faith is going to grow in those things resulting in…righteousness…peace…and joy.
Now hear me, there are genuine anxiety disorders and that’s not what I am talking about. Jesus is the answer, doctors can help . And hear me, this is not overnight, I tell Jesus once that I trust him, and I’ll never struggle with this again. It is a process and journey to notice the signs of misplaced trust, ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify what you have been trusting in besides Jesus, to saturate your life with truth, and then put it to use next time you’re tempted to fear or worry. And I don’t think that process ever stops. We are ALWAYS being invited to place more of our trust in Jesus and what he says to be true.
So where is Jesus inviting you to trust him today? Where have fear, anxiety, and worry been holding you back?
Everyone experiences these things to some degree. But we find victory as we learn to take it to Jesus and focus on what’s right with him. & in that process Jesus sets us free and gives us a life of righteousness, peace, and joy because (Ps 16:11) in his presence is the fullness of joy. And you are a beloved son or daughter of God who has nothing to lose, nothing to prove, no reason to hide or fear because your good Father is always with you. That’s who you are, that’s the life that Jesus dreamed for you to live. & it starts with placing your trust in him, because where you place your trust, makes all the difference.