Stress, worry, and anxiety are unavoidable parts of human life. Our bodies would not survive without the ability to feel fear and respond accordingly to the dangers present in our lives. How else would we learn not to touch the burning candle and not stick a key in an electric socket? A healthy amount of fear is completely normal and required for our survival. However, there comes a time in which our fears take on a new role that is much larger than simple survival but actually inhibits us from truly living. There are circumstances in life that are out of control and anxious thoughts that run rampant through our minds. In Philippians 4:6-7 God commands us, “don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” c
Step 1: Admit Your Fears
Everyone knows the classic saying, admitting you have a problem is the first step. But it truly is! Once we begin to be honest with ourselves about our anxieties and worries, we can finally begin to gain control over our thoughts and feelings. We are not in this life alone- God wants to walk with us through these fears. Admit these fears to the Lord in any way that feels comfortable. It could be praying out loud, in your head, writing down your prayers, or even communicating them to a loved one. The most important aspect of this is being honest. There is no need to hide how we truly feel from God, He already knows what we are feeling before we even formulate the words to communicate it. The more that we spend time with God and develop an open and trusting relationship with Him, the bigger He becomes and the smaller our problems begin to seem.
Step 2: Ask For Action
Asking for help is not always easy. Many people feel more anxiety about asking for help than they do about the actual anxieties they are actively experiencing. It is not uncommon to want to hide away from our worries and hope that they disappear. God wants to enter into the stressful space with us and hold our hand as our hearts beat quickly and our palms sweat. Ask God to take action in whatever situation is causing you to worry. God knows the deepest depths of our hearts and speaking the truth of our needs only further informs Him of the trust that we have in Him to walk with us through our trials. The Bible is chalked full of times at which people asked God to intervene in their difficult circumstances. At times, God chose to act in very obvious and dramatic ways and at other times He chose to work towards a greater purpose. Our request may be fulfilled or we may be given a response we were not expecting, but we need not worry for “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Step 3: Give Thanks
There are few things more difficult than giving thanks to God in times that feel especially hopeless. When life is throwing more curveballs than we know how to manage- it can be easy to give into the temptation of self pity. We can combat this through giving thanks for the things in our life that God has presented before us with loving kindness. Stress, worry, and anxiety steal the joy that we have and make us forget all the good things by forcing us to focus on the bad. No matter how bad the bad is, there is always something to be grateful for. It becomes a lot easier to be at peace when we feel truly thankful for all that we have. It is easy to give thanks to the Lord- there is nothing you have to but pray. Thank God for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do. We can find confidence in God’s plan by looking back at the sacrifice He made for us, the blessings that He has given us day after day, and the promise that He will work things together for our ultimate good.
Step 4: The Peace of God
The peace of God seems like a far away concept that is beyond human understanding. And to be honest- it kind of is. There may never be a day on this Earth to which we really understand the peace of God, but that doesn’t mean we can’t recieve it with open arms. We do not pray to simply get what we want, but we pray to change our perspective. Oftentimes worries and anxieties can affect our bodies and minds in ways that take away the truth of our lives. We are constantly held in God’s love so there is no reason to worry. That doesn’t mean we won’t worry, it just means that when we do we have to take the time to find a deeper perspective. Prayer guards us with a calm heart and a clear mind as we can sense God’s loving care and compare the smallness of our worries with the bigness of God. Then we begin to realize, God’s got it under control.