How to Conquer Stress, Fear and Anxiety
God speaks about fear and anxiety in plain terms in the Bible.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In Matthew 14:22-32, the disciples found themselves in a very stressful situation. They were in a small boat in the middle of the sea when a great wind came up, making their boat toss back and forth. Many of these disciples were fishermen, so they knew the dangers of the storms on the sea very well. Under their circumstances, most likely they felt that they may not make it through the storm alive. However, what is often missed in this story is that in verse 22 it says that Jesus “…made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side.” Jesus knew full well what was going to happen to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, so this could actually be called a “spiritual test.” It should never surprise a believer that God will often test their faith in Him by placing them in a very stressful or uncomfortable situation.
Why can we say that stressful moments should not cause us to be afraid or anxious?
God is most often the author of what happens in our life. He is always wanting to do something in us so that he can do something through us, and many times He is more than willing to place us in a situation that we did not create and one that we cannot control. So, in the midst of those kinds of difficulties, it is such an important lesson to learn that God controls all things and that there is nothing that He cannot control. He is never caught by surprise by what happens to someone, and that is why Paul could so confidently say in Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
No matter what may happen to us as believers, what the Scriptures teach is that if we truly are trusting God, we will find that even the anxious and stressful moments are things that He allows to happen to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes we become so distracted with other things that we lose focus on what is eternally important, so God often times raises up very difficult and trying circumstances to help us see more clearly what His greater purposes are for our life.
So, what is God really saying when He says that we do not need to be anxious about anything?
The utterly amazing part of Philippians 4:6-7 is when Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Our normal behavior is to constantly worry about things that in the big picture really have a very minor impact in our lives, making it difficult to stay focused and ignore the eternal issues that will define our eternity. When I read a statement like “Do not be anxious about anything,” I immediately realize that God is staking His reputation on this statement. He is an all-powerful, all-knowing, and compassionate God, that He simply does not want us to somehow miss the reality of His control over whatever may happen in our lives. For someone who simply created the heavens and the earth with just a word, taking care of any problem or difficulty we may have is simply no big deal.
This is what is so amazing about these verses because when fully understand they are God’s way of saying that we can cast our every care on Him no matter what our stressful circumstances may be saying to us. 1 Peter 5:6-7 explains it this way:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because He cares for you.
Not long ago, the nuclear plant where my oldest son had worked for seven years was shut down. Everyone that worked there lost their job – 5,000 people in one day without any notice. My son and his family were traveling home at the time when he received the phone call and his wife called us to let us know. In that process, she made the remarkable statement that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him. They never became anxious about what my son losing his job was going to do to their life, but they sincerely found that trusting God in the middle of an outwardly stressful reality was really not difficult. To them, it just seemed to be the most natural thing to trust in God.
If we can trust Him completely with our eternity, then surely we can trust Him with our present circumstances.
The Bible never promises believers that life will be easy and it never promises that there will be no problems. However, what it does promise is that when life is difficult and when there are very real problems affecting our life that God has all of the right answers and all of the resources to see us through those stressful moments in our life. It is His way of helping us to trust Him.
Pray this week:
“Father, I come to you seeking the grace that I know I will need for the difficult times in my life that will challenge both my faith and my confidence in You. You are a great God and I seek your grace for the strength, courage, and wisdom that I need to trust you fully with my life.”
If someone else were to examine my life when life creates very anxious moments for me, would they be able to tell someone else that I was truly trusting God in the midst of those difficult times?