Blog

Oct 10, 2020 08:00am
The Struggle to Quiet Your Anxious Thoughts is Real
274 Views

I wish I could say I don’t worry.

I wish I could say I don’t get anxious about things I can’t control.

I wish I could say I don’t desire more money to do what I want.

I wish I could say I’m envious of what people have that I don’t.

I wish I could say I’ve always had pure motives. 

I wish I could say I have a heart of peace because I trust Jesus. 

I wish I could say I wake up every morning praising God first thing.

I wish I could say I have a heart of gratitude for God’s blessings.

I wish I could say I attend church because I want to worship my Savior.

I wish I could say I never miss my daily quiet time. 

I wish I could say I make time to tell others about Jesus and salvation.

I wish I could say I’m actively involved in intentional discipleship. 

  . . . but I can’t.

I’ve been a Christian for more than four decades and studied the Bible for half that time.

I know what the Bible says about envy, worry, Bible study, prayer, discipleship, worldliness, selfishness, and sharing my faith. 

I know about forgiveness and grace and that my purpose as a Christian is to make Jesus known to the world and give him the glory for blessings.

Here’s the problem with all those wishes: Although I make an attempt to live surrendered and obedient, my sin nature takes over, and I’m right back to being worldly and unrepentant.

And here’s another problem: I forget the Holy Spirit and how (according to Paul’s second letter to Timothy) God did not give me a spirit of fear or timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). This power was given to me by God at salvation the moment I surrendered my life to him. 

If only I could completely surrender every part of my life in a way that brings him glory.

So at the top of my list of  “I wish I coulds” are worry and anxiety, and dealing with those two joy-stealers is a good example of how God works in and with a surrendered life. 

Anxiety is a terrible thing but a reality for so many during this time of uncertainty and fear. Paralyzing fear and depression is very real for so many, and the answer is not just, “Snap out of it!” or “Trust in the Lord.” 

But before you misunderstand and think I said that “Trust in the Lord” is NOT a good answer, let’s look at the example of King David who beautifully recorded his thoughts during times of extreme struggles. 

Anxiety and her bigger, scarier sister, Depression, is something that David wrote about in many of his psalms. He recorded his dark, suicidal thoughts, so he knew how to slay that horrible beast of despondency. 

In Psalm 13:2 David needs relief from the despair and fear that he has so he cries out to God: “How long will I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (It reminds me of another “I wish could say”:  . . . that I have never lost sleep over my anxious thoughts.) 

Clearly David is depressed.

Then in verse three you can almost see David shaking his fist at God and demanding, “Look on me and answer. O Lord, my God! Give light to my eyes . . . “ Then finally in verses five and six he calmly reminds himself, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.”

An incredible chain of events is happening here: In just a few short verses King David goes from depression, to crying out and demanding, then comforting himself. Why? Because he remembers God’s love, salvation and goodness. 

Although he takes out his frustrations on the God who loves him (a very natural reaction for a sinner saved by grace), he acknowledges what he knows to be true based on past experiences with his Father: 

In the midst of David’s many struggles God has always shown his power, strength, comfort and might. 

On this point I do not have to wish . . . I can tell you that total surrender to the God who loves you

I’m not even remotely qualified to understand and give advice on mental disorders, particularly depression, but I have experienced sleepless nights because of anxious thoughts. During those nights when I can’t turn off those out-of-control, despondent feelings, the only thing I can do is fill my mind with scripture and prayer. 

I wish I could tell you that I have defeated those monsters for good that way, but I have not.

Still I cry out to God and he hears my voice.

Yes, I said that I “fill my mind with Scripture and prayer.” 

I do it during those times when I can’t sleep and that tiny bit of worry becomes a big, huge monster.

I do it, unfortunately, when I’m desperate and can’t fight the thoughts with better ones.

And sometimes I do it only when I’ve tried to quiet them on my own. Yes, time and time again, I have worked against God by taking matters into my own hands. 

What a desperate sinner I am!

BUT

What a compassionate and forgiving God he is! 

And still he loves me. How do I know that? Because he has given me his gift of the Holy Spirit, and it’s that spirit that comforts me and gives me peace.

There are so many scriptures that quiet my soul in its desperate cries for help, but one of the best was recorded in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (verses 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Surrender to him today and seek help for your anxious thoughts.

Copyright © 2020. Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.