05 Apr An Anxious Heart
Do not be anxious about anything. We all know the passage in Philippians 4 commanding us not to be anxious. But if we are honest, we all struggle with anxiety and worry on some level. Where is the disconnect? It comes in our attempt to be in control.
Anxiety in the church often comes with a certain stigma— “Do I really trust God?” Although not everyone would answer this truthfully, when we struggle with anxiety or worry, this is essentially what we are saying. We don’t trust that God has our best interest in mind or perhaps feel that He has “lost control”, so we try and take matters into our own hands. The worry and anxiety strike fast and we quickly find ourselves moving in the wrong direction.
As Christians, we feel the best way to combat these anxious feelings is to load up our plate with enough “good” things like church on Sunday, community group, feeding the hungry, serving on a ministry team, visiting the elderly, or coaching our kids’ athletic teams. The list could go on. We add and add to our lists thinking that somehow we will work our way out of our self-centered and worried thoughts. What we fail to realize is that all we are doing is adding to the problem. We think if we portray ourselves as having a life that is all together, nobody will see our brokenness. However, the real change begins to take place when, instead of thinking we need to be in control and have it all together, we recognize that it is actually OK to be broken.
In coming to this realization of brokenness, we need be wary of trying to fix ourselves up. When we believe we can self-improve, we become prideful. But the more serious thing we do when we try and fix ourselves is we belittle the cross of Christ. Essentially we are saying that what Christ did for us was not at all necessary. This is extremely dangerous.
So, how do we overcome anxiety and worry and walk in the abundant life that Christ has for us? Here are a few practical steps we can take to combat these thoughts when they arise:
• Admit we are broken. The first step in anything is self-awareness. The moment you realize you are struggling is the moment you begin overcoming. Imagine a driver on the road that is lost. If the driver insists that he knows the way and isn’t lost, he will continue to drive himself further and further than he intended. It isn’t until the driver admits he is lost that he can begin on the right road. The same is true if we are struggling with anxiety and worry. If we do not admit that we are broken and struggling, we will drive ourselves deeper than we ever planned.
• Get Help! If the same driver admits he is lost but continues to drive, what good is that? He must ask for directions or look at a map. If anxiety and worry dominate our thinking, we must get help. Help can come in many forms: Talking with a pastor, seeing a counselor, seeing a doctor. These are all things provided to us that we might be able to overcome these struggles. Getting help is not a lack of faith. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Getting help is an admission of brokenness, that we can’t overcome this on our own, and that we are in need of something outside of ourselves to help us get somewhere we otherwise would never make it to.
• Address negative self-talk. We are our own worst enemy. Plain and simple. We will drag ourselves down by negative self-talk. God is in control. He’s good. He’s faithful. Find truth in the Scriptures and preach them to yourself!
• Look to the cross. Imagine the bystanders that day at the cross. There was their Savior. Beaten. Bleeding. Suffocating. Being mocked. Dying. This was supposed to be their King and everything seemed to be out of His control. They were quick to forget the words of Jesus that He would be handed over, beaten, and killed. But the story did not stop there. Jesus would rise again on the third day. When everything seemed to be out of control, the Sovereign God was orchestrating a tragic situation for His glory and for our good and salvation!
The cross gives us hope in the midst of our anxiety and worrying. This hope is rooted in the truth that God is in total control of all things (Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 1:17). For those of us who have responded to the gospel and put our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, God is not only the Sovereign King, but our Father. A good, good Father. Therefore in the midst of uncertainty, confusion, anxiousness, worry, or doubt, we can rest easy. What an amazing truth for an anxious heart!
This post was adapted from the Decade 20 talk on Anxiety by Scott Mozingo and Chrystie Cole. Decade 20 is a gathering in which we seek to challenge the 20-something cultural narrative with an honest look at Jesus and the Bible. The next Decade 20 will be from 7:00-9:30pm on April 18 at our Downtown campus.