One of my favorite stories is Pilgrim’s Progress written by John Bunyan. It is the story of Christian leaving the City of Destruction in search of salvation which is found only in the Celestial City, which is heaven. It is an allegory depicting the Christian life all the way.
There is one scene in the story, where Christian & Hopeful were on their journey. It became rough and hard under their feet. They then noticed that there was another path on the other side of the fence, more pleasant, more grass, fewer holes. They decided to jump over the fence and walk on that path because it seemed like it was parallel and was going to the Celestial City.
Well, a storm arose, and they were disoriented and they found out that the path was not going to the Celestial City, but to a destructive path. They then decided to take shelter and fell asleep. They were then awakened by a giant called Despair and got ahold of them, took them to the doubting castle and locked them up in the dungeon.
You may be one of those that are saying, “I’ve been there.” It is so vivid as you remember the cold hand of Despair upon your shoulder. You may have had this grander of a plan that all seemed good and alright, worked out perfectly. Then this storm hits your life and you need to take shelter.
It may be the storm of financial crisis, relational turmoil, family issues, the direction in work, discerning God’s will. This giant of Despair has taken over you and dragged you all over to the castle of doubt in imprisonment.
The question that you and I may be asking is this, “How can we continue on with faith in the life of anxiety when things seem uncertain? What are some ways to trust in our God in the midst of the storm?”
I have some good news. Here are the three secrets in battling against anxiety according to Philippians 4:6-7:
1. Worry about Nothing
We overcome worry by not giving into worry.
Paul gives the prohibition, a command not to worry! For worry comes when we turn away from God. Shift the burdens of life to self and assume that, “I am alone in this and God is far from me!”
God never intended us to do this on our own. It was never in his plan, for you to do life alone.
It is important for us to understand when Paul wrote this letter in Prison. His circumstance was very difficult. He had every reason to be preoccupied with life's pressure. Humanly speaking, he could be trapped, imprisoned in his own anxiety! It’s very evident from the Philippine letter that we must overcome worry and anxiety. We must learn this lesson as well.
2. Pray about Everything
We overcome worry by praying to God for everything.
Paul gives the prescription, that is the counsel in dealing with worry by taking everything to the Lord in prayer. Praying about everything is in contrast to worrying about nothing.
I love the classic hymn called, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
What a friend we have in Jesus.
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege that carries
Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we so often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we do not care,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
Is there something or somewhere in your life that is causing anxiety in you? Sometimes the things that trouble us most, we talk to God about the least.
When dealing with fear, Christians are to have specific requests with thanksgiving before the Lord.
3. Peace will Protect You
We overcome worry as we anticipate the peace of God.
Paul gives the promise that God is committed to provide believers with his peace. This peace of God which surpasses all understanding, “Guard your heart in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). This peace is only found in Jesus Christ.
He may not change your circumstances, but he will give peace in the midst of hardship as he promised.
Cast All Your Anxiety unto Jesus
What I have found in the past 10 years or so stepping into ministry, my anxiety is often birthed out of my own personal lack of faith in Jesus. As a result, my unbelief gets the upper hand in my heart.
Much anxiety, Jesus says, comes from little faith. A lot of our anxiety problems come back to our small view of God.
Scripture promises for the hopeless the assurance of, “My grace is sufficient for you” (1 Cor. 12:9). As my professor, Dr. Stuart Scott in seminary said, “Hope is not defined by the absence of hardship. Rather, hope is found in God’s grace in the midst of hardship. Hope is found in his promise to give us a future.”
Why this hardship of fear in our lives? Ultimately it is to bring glory to the Father by redeeming his people from the curse of sin.
In the imperfection of this broken world, what we need is the reminder of death and resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus’ perfect, faithful, steadfast, and undying love becomes the strength for today and hope for tomorrow.