The Anatomy of Anxiety
Part 22: Reject Shrinking Thinking!
Life Focus: Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety. We need God’s prescription for victory over anxiety.
In our last post, we began exploring spiritual principles from Philippians 4:6-7 for conquering anxiety by guarding our relationship to God our guard. In context, we explored one word—“prayer.”
Instead of allowing ourselves to be habitually and perpetually stuck in the abyss of worry about everything, we’re to be in a spirit of continuous worshipful prayer focused on God’s faithful, fatherly character.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Open Your Palms to God
We have much more to learn from Paul. We’re to approach God our fatherly Guide with “petitions” or “supplication.” When worry strikes, we’re to ask God urgently, specifically, and vulnerably to handle what we’re worrying about.
Picture two open palms surrendering the worried circumstances to God.
“Father, I’m fearful and anxious worried about _______. I surrender. I can’t handle _______ on my own. I give you ________. I trust that You never slumber or sleep. Right now I cast all my care upon you because you care for me.”
See God As a Rewarder, Not a Hoarder
We’re to pray and petition our faithful Father with thanksgiving. The Greek is eucharistias from which we glean our word Eucharist. It means gratefulness, gratitude.
When life stinks, our perspective shrinks.
When worry assaults, all looks negative, dark, hopeless.
Don’t stand there stuck in the muck of stinkin’ thinkin’ and shrinking thinking! Courageously choose thankfulness because you believe God is a Rewarder, not a Hoarder (see Hebrews 11:6).
This is not the “prosperity, health-and-wealth gospel.” This is the good news that in Christ, God is for us and not against us. God wills to reward us with peace even when life stinks.
“Father, I’ve allowed anxiety to shrink my thinking. No more! By faith I believe that You are a Rewarder, not a Hoarder. As the Eucharist reminds me of Christ’s gift for me even when I was yet a sinner, so by thanksgiving I choose to remember that You are for me and not against me. I choose thankfulness in my situation.”
Faithfully Trust Your Faithful Father
Believe it or not, everything that Paul’s said so far has been an introduction.
“Stop choosing the losing path of perpetual stuck worry. Instead, by worshipful prayer that focuses upon your faithful Father and by urgent, specific, vulnerable, trusting petitions, with grateful thanksgiving that remembers that in Christ, God is for you and not against you because He is a Rewarder, not a Hoarder . . .”
In this spirit, present your requests to God.
Request pictures a personal, humble, submissive, trusting asking.
Remember the musical Oliver. The poor orphan boy, Oliver, breaks the rules of the orphanage by daring to ask, “Please, Sir, may I have some more?”
When anxiety attacks, attack back with humble asking.
“Father, I’m overwhelmed. I see no way out. I feel like I’m starved of resources. My bowl of soup is empty, my gas dank is on E, my resources are depleted. Rather than trusting in me, I’m clinging to You. I’m feeble. You’re Almighty. I refuse to rely upon myself. I choose to rely upon You—the God Who raises the dead. Raise me up with Christ, please Lord.”
Making It Real
1. As you conquer anxiety, where are your palms? Clenched as fists fighting against God and others? Drooping at your sides, hopeless? Or, raised humbly and hopefully toward God?
2. As you conquer anxiety, how’s your thinking? Is it shrinking thinking? Or, are you choosing courageous trust?
3. As you conquer anxiety, what are you doing with your empty bowl of soup? Frantically worried about your next meal? Or faithfully trusting your faithful Father?
The Rest of the Story
Paul tells us what occurs when we conquer anxiety spiritually. “The peace of God that passes all understanding guards our hearts and minds.”
It’s not an irrational peace; it’s a super-rational peace. It’s not the absence of feelings; it’s the presence of bringing rationality to our emotionality. We’ll learn how in our upcoming posts.