Jesus’ Top 5 Tips for Beating Anxiety

1. Develop your own prayer life. Every time I turn around, I get an email from someone stressing over his or her day-to-day circumstances. Don’t misunderstand. I have experienced the power of prayer circles firsthand, and I do believe there are times we need to call for reinforcements. But over every little hangnail?

I have to ask myself the question – Do I run to Jesus first, or after I’ve bent the ear of everyone I know, international prayer chains, church office, and anyone else who might listen?

When Jesus said, “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). I have this sneaking suspicion He put the emphasis on the word “me.”

Anyone who’s gone through a long, grueling, spiritual battle of any sort has learned this. You know it because you’ve worn out your best friend, your pastor rolls his eyes when he sees you coming, and you have nowhere else to turn. You just have Him.

It’s a surefire mark of maturity when you can take it all to Christ and know that as long as He knows about it, everything will be okay.

2. Practice radical trust. I’ll admit some hesitation in writing this point. Most of us don’t learn radical trust until we’re wake up in desperate places that call for it. But why can’t we choose it?

Like my friend, Eileen.

Eileen and I were the closest of friends at Shenandoah Jr. High and Miami High School. We fell in love about the same time and we were in each other’s weddings. Not many years hence, life took us far away from each other and we’ve only recently reconnected.

When I heard Eileen had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Bob and I began to pray for her, Jim, and their family. But when I learned just a few weeks later that Greg, their only son, had been diagnosed with the most aggressive form of brain cancer in existence, I cried.

How could anyone endure so much pain at one time? Through a series of God-instances, Jim & Eileen moved from Pennsylvania to Georgia where Greg and his family lived. I asked her how she juggled everything and what she did about anxiety. Here’s her answer:

“Twenty years ago I read Pastor Richard Wurmbrand’s recount of Communist occupation in Romania. Nevertheless, it took me 18 years to grasp the truth on page 39 of Tortured for Christ. That God is in everything, and that we can find His will in all our circumstances.”

She read a story in the book of a young bride-to-be who was apprehended by Communist authorities for teaching the Gospel to children in the Underground Church. Instead of arresting her immediately, they decided to wait until her wedding day so that the distress would be doubled for her, her family, and friends.

Filled with joy over her marriage, she appeared in her lovely white gown, just as the secret police entered the building to make the arrest. When she spotted them she stretched out her wrists to be handcuffed, looked at her beloved, then kissed the manacles and said, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this jewel He has presented me on my wedding day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for His name.”

Just what you would have said, right?

Eileen goes on to say…

“During a routine gall bladder surgery 22 months ago, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that had metastasized to the abdomen lining. When the diagnosis was revealed to my husband and me, this perfect peace immediately came over me.

I told the doctor, ‘You are relieved of the responsibility of healing me, but you can partner with God.  I don’t like cancer, but I know that God has a plan and I accept what He wants to do in my life.’

Little did we know our son had already been experiencing minor memory problems and was to be diagnosed four months later with terminal brain cancer.

Perfect Peace…the family said they all caught the peace from me. Wow! What if I had not responded to God with full surrender? I am humbled at the thought of all this.

After a joyful 14 month journey, our son died this past April. I thank God every day for cancer. The calm and serenity has never gone away. I’m on 42 consecutive chemo treatments. I tell all who will listen that living with purpose, being that calm in the middle of storms, is one of the most satisfying gifts God gives us daily! Blessed be His Name – Jesus!”

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matt. 8:26,27).

Yeah – what sort of Man is He?

This is radical trust. The kind of trust that honors Christ.

3. View worry as your testimony to the world that Jesus isn’t powerful enough. Because that’s what it is.

I wonder how aware we are of those watching how we live out the rough places? We speak so often of “giving the Gospel” to people so they may come to know Christ. What kind of Gospel do we preach when we whine, get overwhelmed, or panic?

The closer we draw to Election Day, the more we see the widespread fear and panic over who will be the next president. Like it or not, our anxiety over what’s happening in our nation is a testimony that screams louder than what we say we believe about eternal life.

There is no division between secular and spiritual with God. They are one and the same.

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:27) We are called to be change catalysts. Worry never changed anything.

4.  Refuse to focus on tomorrow’s imaginary problems today. Jesus instructed us specifically  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matt. 6:34)

Are you like me, eyes wide open in the middle of the night, running worst-case scenarios through your mind?

You’ve tried everything – I mean, how many times can you sing “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”? – except what He said: refuse to focus on what might happen tomorrow. I wonder why we don’t run best-case scenarios through our head? We do have the choice, you know?

Be present. Be where you are. Right now. Not anywhere else.

How can you be somewhere else anyway?

5.  Find one example in the Bible of Jesus worrying. I’m serious. Is there one? Of course there isn’t. He didn’t tell us to do something that He didn’t do. He never worried. He got angry. He needed support in the Garden that night. He asked for prayer. But He didn’t worry. Ever.

Being Christlike means we don’t either. This is not to say that anxious thoughts don’t assail us at times. It is to say, we can do something about them.

As Bob often tells me, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep him from building a nest there.”

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Comments

  1. Hi Cathee,
    I love your blogs. They speak to me every week. You are a gifted writer. Keep up God’s work. God Bless You

  2. How wonderful that the Lord places these lovely reminders in the front of us just when we need them. Thank you for being obedient. I so often think of Mary and how she “Pondered things in her heart” rather than running to friends, mother, sisters, etc. I do try to be more like her.

  3. I am practicing all 5 tips as I write this. Jesus is sufficient. (When are we ever going to get this pounded into our heads)

  4. Debra Throckmorton

    I agree this is a powerful way to lead a prayer life. Just lost my mom to lung cancer 8/11/12 . Because of different faiths in family I folllowed the prayer life that you describe. I did not cry less, Grieving is not easier, but I am at peace with the mercy God afforded our family with her suffering short and her passing listening to Ave Maria. God is truly a great God and his yoke is lite. Peace

    • Debra

      I am so sorry for your loss and I pray that the God of all comfort will keep your heart safely tucked inside his hand as you go through the grieving process. How beautiful that you have found this peace even in the midst of you pain. He is giving you the rest he promised in Matt. 11:28-30.

      Cathee

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