The Anatomy of Anxiety
Part 33: The Weapons of Our Warfare
Big Idea: 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.
Renewing Your Mind: Images, Pictures, and Imagination
In our previous post, we applied five wisdom principles for renewing our ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. Today we follow four wisdom principles for renewing our images: face irrational images, choose realistic images, take the sting out of false images, and cast down deceitful images. We’ll use a common phobia to illustrate the process: going to the dentist.
1. Face Irrational Images
When fear begins to grow into a full-blown phobia, our tendency is to block out or even to try to blot out our thinking. However, our images just go underground, they don’t disappear or dissipate. So, though it may seem like the opposite of what we might want to do, the best thing to do is to specify the fearful images flooding your mind.
“If I take this to its furthest extreme, I have this irrational fear that I will gag when they put the instruments down my mouth. I picture my tooth ripping out and bleeding profusely, and maybe even bleeding to death.”
2. Choose Realistic Images
Of course, it won’t help much to keep picturing those extreme images. So you must bring reality to bear.
“I’m going to picture reality. My dentist is a trained, caring professional. She’s done this procedure 1000s of times. She gently scrapes my teeth, not yanks them. She uses modern tools, not archaic ones.”
3. Take the Sting Out of False Images
Asking “so what” and “what if” are additional ways to take the sting out of false images.
“Okay, so what if? What if I passed out when they were cleaning my teeth? Dental phobias are the first or second most common phobias. I’m not the only one who might get all worked up. They have smelling salt. Worst case, I could go to “Gentle Dental” and be basically in a light sleep the whole time. But I don’t need to. I can face this.”
4. Cast Down Deceitful Images
Anxiety is warfare. It is a decision to cling to God our Guardian (trust and obey) and then to guard others (tend and befriend). It is a decision not to self-protect and not to let others down. It’s a decision to see God as Sentinel Who empowers us to be on sentinel duty for Him and others.
Paul uses warfare imagery in 2 Corinthians 10:3-7. He teaches us not to wage war as the world does. Instead, he reminds us that we have divine power to demolish strongholds, arguments, and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. God equips us with the weapons to take captive every thought and image to make them obedient to Christ.
So, as you face your fear, get mad at your fear. Reject it. Cast it down. Call it what it is—sinful refusal to trust God. Recognize it as a deeply embedded choice to believe lies about reality.
The spirit of timidity that Paul speaks of in 2 Timothy 1:5-7, is always accompanied by images of our self as a little boy, a little girl, a baby, childish, fearful, in the fetal position.
Picture yourself smacking down those two-faced, false, deceitful, lying, double-dealing, double-minded images. Pin them to the mat. Manhandle them. Replace them with boldness. See your self armed in Christ, putting on the full armor of God. Picture yourself marching into the dentist’s office “armed to the teeth” (pun intended).
Keeping It Real
Ponder a fear you face. Apply to that fear the four wisdom principles of renewing your images.
The Rest of the Story
Having looked at our relational and rational victory over anxiety, next we’ll explore our volitional victory over anxiety. How do we choose courageously when fear stalks and anxiety strikes?
Join the Conversation
Why do we so seldom talk about images and the imagination in Christian circles?