According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary Anxiety is the
“fear or nervousness about what might happen.”
Have you ever suffered from anxiety? Ever wondered how you were going to handle a situation at school that might result in a fight? Or how to handle a co-worker / client that has been causing problems that will jeopardize meeting the project deadline? Or perhaps where the money was going to come to pay for the mortgage at the end of the month? Well statistically if you are reading this, you have experienced anxiety in one form or another.
“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.” (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)
I certainly can be counted within that 40 million! Today I want to pose this idea that we don’t need to live life this way. Based on the Word of God we can ANNIHILATE ANXIETY!
But first let’s look at the definition again. Anxiety is the “fear or nervousness about what MIGHT happen.” MIGHT being the key word! Now by no means am I lessening the significance of anxiety, quite the contrary, it is a very serious issue, one which will wreak havoc if left unabated. I know myself, I will run scenario after scenario of how something will go or what my response will be “if (fill in the blank) happens.” This is not necessarily a bad thing in some cases, in fact as an Architect it’s necessary to vet out different courses of action; but when it comes down to the difficult, life altering decisions, don’t you wish that you could hear from God for the right direction to go in? Well I would submit that you can today, though it may not be audibly like in the past.
This peaked my interest and I started to look into the first (5) books of the Bible. God spoke to:
- Adam in Genesis 2:15-17
- Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:8-19
- Cain in Genesis 4:3-16
- Noah in Genesis 6:9-22 and 9:1-3
- Abram/Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4,15:1-21, 17:1-22, 18:1-33, 19:27-29 and 22:1-18
- Jacob/Israel in Genesis 28:10-17, 32:22-30 35:1-15
- Moses in Exodus Chapters 3-10, 11-14, 16-18, 20 and many more throughout the rest of Exodus and the Books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy until he died in Deuteronomy Chapter 34!
In Deuteronomy 34:10 (NLT) it says that:
“There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”
Oh to be Moses right? To have face to face contact with God! I stopped here in my list though there are many other Old Testament characters who have heard audibly from God because it is Joshua, Moses’ successor who I think can be an encouragement to us today as the issues we face seem insurmountable! But before we unpack how Joshua can help, there’s something else I would like to talk about first. I shared with you in our last post, ★ Thought for the Day – Turn the Other Cheek ★, that I was having some stress because of someone who lied about me and that I had to take the high road and turn the other cheek instead of demanding vindication. Today I am going to be vulnerable to you and reveal that it is much more than “some stress,” and that there have been more incidents that have caused extreme anxiety and poison in my Spirit. And unfortunately I have allowed the venom to spill over into other areas of my life and steal my joy when I am away from work. In fact I just had a heart to heart with my daughter to apologize for my words that have hurt her. It is amazing how when anxiety is unchecked how it can run your life. I have had trouble reading the bible and my quiet time with God has been lackluster at best and it is also why there has only been 1 post in the last two months but God is so merciful! On Thursday morning (12/1/16), God spoke so clearly to me when I saw this notification from the Verse of the Day from the YouVersion Bible App:
Talk about a wake-up call! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? Great questions! It’s because I had lost my way. I had lost hope and my focus was distracted by the cares and worries of my life!
After seeing the Psalms I then stumbled onto this edit from Philippians 4:6-7 on twitter:
When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near
My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
What a great reminder. We need to be careful as we are “in the valley” that we don’t allow ourselves to be distracted by all the worries of the world and lose sight of the truth that we are never alone! We have a father in heaven who loves us dearly and has provided His Son to be an example of how we should live. And when Jesus walked this earth He would get alone and pray for help from His Father, (see Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12, Luke 22:41-44.) And so that is what we need to do too! In addition to following His example, because I have trusted in Jesus, God has given me the Holy Spirit to live within me to be my comforter, (See John 14:16-18, 16:13). The lyrics also brought me back to 1999 when I baptized on Easter and when I read Psalm 23 as part of my public declaration. I wanted to share what verse 4 says:
So God spoke to me through the Verse of the Day, Twitter, a song on the radio which brought up when I was baptized 17-1/2 years ago to speak into my Spirit that I am not alone and that even though I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I should not allow fear and anxiety to rule my life! I told you that I was meeting a friend well he ended up oversleeping so while I waited for him, God gave me the idea to write this Thought and lead me to the final verse that He spoke to me in 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)…
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”
You see that God does still speak but we need to have our hearts in tune with Him. In Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV) it says that:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
Do you know what the antidote to anxiety and fear? In Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) we are the answer…FAITH!
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
My wife who suffered terribly from anxiety as a result of contracting Lyme’s Disease said this to me this morning:
“Anxiety is a mind game that forces you to choose fear or faith!”
It took her 3 long years to battle through the effects of this silent disease that so few people know about that affects your nervous system and causing extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Today I am so thankful that she is able to work out again and has overcome the anxiety that once plagued her mind. I saw this edit which is so fitting since she loved to workout…
“Faith doesn’t take the weight off your life. It shows you how to handle it.”
We started off this post talking about the Old Testament characters that God spoke to and I left you hanging about Joshua, a man who had an extraordinary amount of faith! Joshua lost his mentor, Moses and was given the mantle to lead an entire nation into the “Promised Land” with the understanding that he would have to go into battle against an overwhelming force with a plan that was completely dependent on God doing what He said He would. In Joshua 6:2-5 (ESV) it says:
“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.’”
You can read that whole account here in Joshua 5:13-6:50. I am reminded that I am not the only one who is facing insurmountable challenges. Talk about some extreme faith! Think about going to tell your army, “Okay everyone, I heard from the Lord and the plan is, we will walk around Jericho for 7 days and then at the end of the march, the priests will blow the trumpets and everyone will shout really loud and the walls will come down!” That alone I think took a lot of faith but to actually go and do as God instructed is a completely different thing altogether! What Joshua knew and what we need to know is that:
Is there something that you feel God wants you to do? Could it be to be a friend to that person who sits alone every day at lunch? Or to be a friend to someone you know going through a divorce or a terminal disease? Or perhaps to invite that person to church that God has placed on your heart who you know is far from Him right now?
As the Advent season ramps up and the list of things to do grows, pause and ask God what could you do for someone else during this Christmas season. I will close with the same encouragement that Joshua gave to the people of Israel:
Don’t let fear and anxiety rule your life and take away the joy of this season. Have this mindset that:
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