My obsessive, OCD mind tends to latch on to the frightening, the hard, the disappointing. The offensive or unkind. And the more I fuel negative thinking, the more miserable, anxious, and insecure I become.
How can I have the peace of God if I’m constantly stressing over what ifs or rehashing old hurts?
The night before He was to die, knowing the grief and terror His disciples would soon experience, Jesus gathered them together and made some horrific predictions:
I’m going to leave you.
The world’s going to hate you.
You’ll be imprisoned and expelled from your faith community.
In man’s misguided zeal for God, they’ll seek to execute you.
And perhaps the most difficult to hear of all: In your darkest hour, All of you will abandon Me.
But sandwiched in the middle of this frightful news, He said, in essence, “I’m leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give you is a gift the world cannot give.” His next statement must have felt incredibly frustrating: “So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
As if it were that easy. As if one could simply decide, once and for all, to squelch their anxiety regarding a situation, and viola, all is well and joy follows.
My husband’s made countless similar statements:
Let it go.
If you’re female, you know precisely how effective such suggestions can be. And yet, Jesus isn’t my husband. He’s my Creator, my Savior, my Lord, so when He tells His followers, which includes us, to do something, we’d be wise to listen. He wasn’t the type to offer empty platitudes.
So was he speaking to men, then? When a man’s worried about something, they simply grab the remote, plop on the couch, and lose themselves in the football game, all concerns forgotten.
When we women grow concerned about something, watch out.
But … it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to live enslaved to fear.
In Christ, we have everything we need to live—and think—victoriously, in a way that reveals His power within us. But that doesn’t mean it won’t take determined effort and practice as we learn to toss out negative thinking, whatever its root, and fix our thoughts on those things that are good, true, admirable, and worthy of respect.
I’ve found I can’t do both. I can’t simultaneously obsess on the hard or the frightening and the truths of Scripture. At each moment, we’re entertaining one or the other. The challenge, then, is to do all we can, intentionally, to starve one type of thinking while feeding the other until our thoughts consistently mirror Christ’s.
That, my friends, is when we begin to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding.
In the middle of our most anxious moments, we can stop whatever we’re doing to:
- I’ve found it especially to praise God for all His attributes. “Lord, You’re all powerful, all loving, all knowing. You’re faithful and attentive.”
- There’s something about praise music that stills my heart and calms my soul.
- Recite truth. There’s power in God’s word. In fact, of all the spiritual weapons listed in Ephesians 6:10-18, Scripture is our only offensive weapon. All the other weapons are defensive.
- Engage in something positive. Though my brain isn’t easy to distract, finding something active to do, like vacuuming, going for a walk, or purging the coat closet helps.
Let’s talk about this! When anxiety or fear hits, do you tend to obsess over that thing or turn to God? What are some tools you’ve found that help you move from fear to faith? Do you have any favorite Scriptures you rely on? Share your thoughts, examples, and suggestions with us in the comments below, because this is an area we all can grow stronger in!
I also encourage you to engage with Wholly Loved’s Facebook page as we’ve been talking about ways to break free from fear. And make sure to check out one of our upcoming Bold and Brave conferences where you’ll learn how to break free from the shackles of fear to live in freedom. Find out more HERE.
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