AN ANXIOUS LIFE
It is morning and anxiety is already beginning to rise in John’s life. His boss has put high demands of productivity at the factory where he works. As a manager, John lives with many anxious thoughts as he must be sure those under him are being productive. He wants to make more money through a promotion, but wonders if that will ever happen. He dreads the thought of having to confront people about their lack of productivity. His goal is for everyone to like him.
John also has problems at home. He and his wife have been arguing lately about finances and about how to raise their children. He also feels pressure from his in-laws who always seem to want to interfere in their marriage. He feels that his wife listens more to them than to him.
Many anxious thoughts go over and over in his head: “What if I am not productive and lose my job?” “What if those under my management refuse to properly do their work and I have to confront them?” “Will I ever get the promotion I want and believe I deserve?” “What am I going to do about my interfering in-laws?” “Why won’t they just leave us alone?” “How can he stop the arguments with his wife?” “Why can’t I find any peace?”
MANY THINGS CAN CAUSE ANXIETY
Anxious moments followed by anxious thoughts can come upon us very quickly as the difficulties of life surround us. There are many family problems that press upon our lives. Sickness can enter the home and we become anxious about what is causing our loved one to be ill. We wonder how long the illness will last and how will the medical bills be paid? All of us can struggle with anxious thoughts because of the troubles of life. Sometimes we are pressured from many directions and feel overwhelmed.
But the Bible tells us that an anxious life is not a godly life. It is not a life that honors God. It is not how God wants us to live. God comes to us and speaks peace. The Bible says concerning the life of a disciple of Christ, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
But what can we do when the pressures of life mount up, causing anxious thoughts and nervousness? What do we do when the peace that God has for us seems far from us?
We have to ask God, by His grace, to help us see what is going on in our hearts. The Bible says for us to guard our hearts as the source of all that we think and do. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Anxiety shows something is wrong concerning our heart’s desires. We often feel we cannot be happy without certain things in our lives. In those moments of anxious reflection, we reveal that something sinful is going on in our hearts. We have set our mind’s desire on something other than Christ. Even desires for good things can control us if we want them too much.
How do we get rid of anxious thoughts and find again the peace of God? Paul the apostle tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything.” God is telling us it is possible to live a life without anxiety. If what is in our hearts is focused on God and His Eternal Kingdom anxiety will flee. But if we want something else—something that has replaced the treasure of Christ, we will be anxious when that desire is threatened.
GOD HELPS FIX THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
We must ask God to help us see our own hearts. We need God by His grace to open our eyes to the real condition of our hearts. We need to ask ourselves hard questions that will help us see below the surface to see what is controlling us—what we want too much—what has taken the central place in our hearts.
We must ask ourselves some penetrating questions searching for the root of our anxiety: What is it that we fear we will lose? What anxious thought comes to us as we doubt that we will have a sufficient supply? What is it we want so bad and fear we are going to lose? What do we want to control but find we cannot control? What do I want so much that it is robbing me of my peace? What do I desire so much that I am ready to sin to get it?
When we discover what is controlling our anxious hearts, we must call on God to deliver us. We must turn to Him and ask Him to root out the desires that have pushed Christ to the side. We must repent and begin to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.
FREEDOM FROM ANXIETY
We experience an anxious free life as we become Christ-centered. Anxiety flees when He becomes the focus of our lives and when He becomes the treasure of our soul. Anxiety flees when we are truly convinced that Jesus is enough. This is the solution that leads us to an anxious free life because Jesus is the only sure foundation of life. We live without anxiety as we turn to God and give everything to Him in prayer. Paul the apostle writes: “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” (Philippians 4:6-7).
John needs to ask God to help him search his heart to see his true desires. Has the desire for a promotion and his desire to please people pushed Christ to the side? What does he want from his
wife that he is not getting that makes him willing to get into arguments and sin to get it? John must repent and focus again on the all-sufficiency of Christ. He must focus on the promise that Christ has promised to be with us to the very end of the age.
He must remember throughout the day that he has a loving Heavenly Father that cares for him and has promised to meet his every need. He needs to seek first the Kingdom of God and let the Savior rule his heart. He must humble himself and let the grace of God root out the old desires and replace them with God-honoring desires. He needs to focus on living for the glory of God. He must ask God in prayer to take all of his heart.
PEACE IN JESUS
Peace begins by trusting Jesus and His death for us. He took our place on the cross. He took our sins so we can be forgiven. He was buried and three days later He rose from the dead. Peace comes in following Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace.
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For many people, these are anxious times! Whether they are concerned about finances, how a relationship will develop, or even how their past is affecting their present and future, anxiety often rules the day. When anxiety takes over, everything changes!
WHERE ANXIETY COME FROM.
Anxiety grows out of broken dreams, failed relationships, and sometimes poor decisions we make along life’s journey. One frustration leads to another and soon they form a framework that shapes our lives and our attitudes.
But does it need to be that way? Is there a way to live life free of anxiety? Books fill the shelves that promise to help us conquer anxiety, but time and again people return to the bookstore looking for a new and better answer. It really comes down to whether or not we can control our own lives.
THERE IS HOPE
The truth is, that most people will never master their own anxiety, let alone know how to help someone else. But, there is good news. There is someone who promises to walk through life with you. He is available 24 hours a day and best of all, He promises never to leave you nor forsake you. He is Jesus.
Jesus Christ is God’s son, but He lived among us. Jesus understands the cares of this life. He knows how often we make mistakes and live with the consequences. Because He understands the depth of our pain, He offers to guide us through life’s journey.
Jesus offers you a solution for anxiety. It is simply a matter of giving Him control over our lives. The Bible teaches that you can overcome anxiety once you learn to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you,” (I Peter 5:7 NIV). By giving your cares to Jesus, you can begin a journey from anxiety to peace. Along the way, it is quite likely that you will find a new joy in living too!
IT MAY TAKE TIME
Leaving your anxiety with Jesus will likely be a process. You may be tempted to try and reclaim the things that make you anxious. But, if you ask Him, Jesus can help you to overcome the thought patterns that make you anxious and cause you frustration.
PRAY WITH ME:
Dear Jesus, I feel so anxious about my life. I am tired of thinking about everything going wrong. I need to change the way I live and think. Please forgive me for the wrong things I have done. I want You to be My Lord and Savior. Help me make a new start in life. Please take my anxiety and help me discover peace that comes from knowing You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
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ANXIETY, THE STORM THAT UNRAVELS
Life is filled with unknown dangers. It seems like so much of life is out of our control. Often, just when we think we have gotten control over our lives, the things of our lives become unraveled.
We often wonder where we can turn in our moments of uncertainty and anxiety. Hopefully we have people who have surrounded us, who love us, and give their best to support us in our anxious times. We may have a religious tradition to which we identify. This tradition gives us certain rituals, practices and prayers that we can offer to help us endure the pressures we feel weighing down on our lives.
WHEN THE FOUNDATIONS OF OUR LIVES ARE SHAKEN
But what do we do when everything that was given to us fails to bring the peace in our minds and hearts that we seek? If the foundations of our lives are being shaken where can we turn?
In the Bible the Psalmist asked this very question: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)
We find a story from the life of Jesus that can help us find the refuge that we seek. We read in the gospels of how Jesus calms the storm. (Mark 4:35-41).
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” In fear and amazement, they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
Jesus decides it is time to go over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He along with his 12 disciples get into a boat and set out to cross the sea. Jesus uses this time as an opportunity to teach the disciples about faith and trust. He wants them to learn how faith in His presence and power can keep from falling into fear and anxiety.
Jesus is in the boat as they sail across the sea and He decides that it is a good moment to get some shut eye. Therefore, He lays down and takes a nap.
While He is asleep, the Bible says that a furious squall came up on the sea. Large waves began to beat against the boat and broke over the sides of the boat. We read that the boat was almost swamped.
To the disciples everything looked overwhelmingly grim. For the disciples it appeared they could all soon perish. Worry, anxiety and fear gripped their hearts and minds.
The Bible says that during this crisis Jesus was in the stern of the boat fast asleep. This reminds us that nothing that comes our way as children of God surprises God. God is in control. He knows what is best for us. He will not fail us. He is calm and at rest, ready to intervene at the right moment. This story also reminds us that Jesus wants to give us His calm and rest in the midst of the storms of life if we will but trust Him.
The disciples should have looked at Jesus calmly sleeping and said to themselves that they were perfectly safe. The Savior is with them in the boat. He is perfectly calm and asleep in the storm. They should have known that He would bring them safely through the storm. They only needed to trust him.
Anxiety and worry take over in the disciples’ lives. The Bible says, “the disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Instead of trusting the Savoir they let their sinful instincts take over. Unbelief gripped their hearts. They looked at the situation from a human point of view. Their evaluation of the situation was as if they forgot that the Savior, the Maker of heaven and earth was with them in the boat.
They had seen Jesus do many miracles. He fed the five thousand. He even raised the dead. But in this moment of anxious uncertainty, they looked at themselves and forgot the eternal power and love of God that is found in the Son of God. He was not going to fail them. He was not going to let them perish.
When anxiety floods our minds
Anxiety floods our minds in the moment we forget Jesus. We forget that He is right there in the boat with us. He is there at rest, in control, being always faithful. He wants to pass on to our hearts His peace and rest, but we have to recognize Him. We have to confess Him. We have to call on Him in faith. We have to trust Him, knowing that He is very near in our time of trouble and that He will never fail us.
They never asked themselves the question, “Will this boat sink and we lose our lives when the Messiah, the very Son of God is in the boat with us?” We need to ask ourselves the same kind of question, “Will the Savior who bled and died for our redemption, and three days later arose from the dead, conquering all evil, fail us in our time of need?”
Jesus, as He was awakened by the fearful and anxious disciples, immediately takes action in their behalf. The Bible says, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” And the Bible says, “Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
This reminds us that Jesus can calm the winds of the storm that is striking our lives. Is it a sickness? Is it a financial need? Is it a rebellious child? Is it the threat of a natural disaster? Is it the multiplied pressures of life in this fallen world? Jesus is very near. His help is but one prayer away.
Jesus is there to say, “Quiet! Be Still!” Now our troubles may not instantly disappear. But He does speak. He speaks peace to our hearts. He gives confidence that we are headed in the right direction because now our lives and the circumstances of our lives are in His hands.
Have we forgotten that Jesus is in our boat by letting our hearts wander? Have other things taken His place in the center of our minds and hearts? Has anxiety gripped us because we want the things God gives us more than we want the Giver of all things? Has anxiety taken over because we fear we are going to lose something that has become more important to us than the Savior himself?
Refocus and allow Jesus back in the boat
We must refocus and allow Jesus back in the boat of our lives. We need to worship Him and Him alone. We must seek first His Kingdom and let Jesus be the Lord of all. We need to trust Him with all of our heart.
This is way the apostle Peter writes to us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
He cares. He is there in our time of trouble. In faith we can cast all of our anxious thoughts, all of our cares, all of the pressures of life on Him. He took the sin and blight of this fallen world upon himself on the cross. Therefore, the cross speaks to us today of freedom. This includes the freedom of the burden of carrying our own troubles. It is freedom from anxiety as we gaze upon the cross from whence comes our eternal help and deliverance.
The disciples ask themselves as they were still gripped with fear, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” He was Almighty God who took on human flesh and lived among us. He still is the all-powerful Son of God who can bring us through every difficulty.
As we trust Him, He can calm the storm that enters our minds and souls. As we reach out to Him in faith and as we call upon Him in our time of distress, He brings peace to our souls.
The Prince of Peace immediately arises and stands up in our behalf. He then takes control of the situation. By faith we must step out of the way and let the Savior take over and demonstrate His powerful love. We know we are in His hands. We sense that He is near. Anxiety ceases. We experience a peace that transcends all understanding.
This help from the Savior begins by trusting Him and Him alone for our salvation. Jesus took our place upon the cross. The Just died for the unjust. Three days later He arose from the dead. Through His death and resurrection are sins are forgiven. We must follow Him with all of our hearts.
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Proverbs 3:5-6 .John 14:27 .John 16:33
“4 Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
“22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
“25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
“11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
“25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things will be added to you.”
“‘27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?’”
“‘28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 29 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?’”
“‘31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’”
“‘34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’”
“‘11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.’”
“27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
“‘33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’”
“6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
1 Peter 5:6-7
“6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Shame is a powerful master! It often makes us afraid. Shame makes it difficult to move forward in our lives. When we feel shame, life loses all joy and becomes a hopeless struggle.
Recently, a politician was named in a corruption scandal. His reputation was ruined and he felt great shame. He took his own life, thinking that his death would free his family from the shame he created.
Suicide is not an answer to shame! Instead, it only creates more hurt. God understands that as people, many of our actions often cause us to feel shame. Shame can be caused by wrong actions that the Bible calls “sin.” Sin destroys everything it touches and leaves us feeling empty and alone.
When we sin, we feel great shame and pain – in ourselves, our families, and God Himself. Sin causes shame and the penalty for sin is death.
God understands the shame problem. He sent His only Son into the world to solve that problem for us. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins and released us from our shame once and for all. When Jesus died on the cross, He canceled our sin debts and made forgiveness for each of us possible.
Then God did an even greater miracle and raised Christ from the dead!
Jesus wants to walk life’s journey with us. He will help us out of the problems we create and keep us in good relationship with God our Father. Once you choose to live for Jesus, you can fulfill your family obligations as a son or daughter and serve your new master Jesus.
Jesus will walk with you and guide you through life’s journey so that you can thrive in this life and enjoy the promise of eternal life.
“Dear Jesus, I admit that I have shamed myself, my family, and You. I need forgiveness from the wrong things I have done. I choose to make You Lord of my life. Please help me discover the joy and the freedom to live without shame as I learn to live for you. Guide me through life’s journey and let me bring honor to Your name. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen!”
If you prayed that prayer, please click the button that says: “Yes, I prayed.” We would love to hear your story.
During the first week of orientation the outgoing CEO counseled the new CEO, “Sometimes you’ll make wrong choices. You’ll make mistakes. I have prepared three envelopes for you when that happens. You will find them in the top drawer of your desk. The first time it happens, open number one. The second time you mess up, open number two. The third time, open number three.”
For the first few months, everything went well. Then it happened . . . the CEO made his first mistake. He went to the drawer and opened envelope number one. The message read, “Blame me.” So he blamed the old CEO, saying, “This is the old CEO’s fault. He made these mistakes. I inherited these problems.” The company accepted the reasoning and went on.
After making his second mistake, He immediately opened envelope number two. This time the message said, “Blame the board.” And he does: “It’s the board’s fault. The board is a mess. I inherited them. They’re the problem.” The company said, “Okay, that makes sense.”
Then he and the company found success for a season. Upon making his third mistake, he opened envelope number 3 to read, “Prepare three envelopes.”
The difference between successful people and others is not lack of failure. Both fail. Successful people view failing as a normal process of learning. They move through it and get past it.
1. Take ownership of your failure. Don’t deflect or blame others for the failure. If you don’t own it and take responsibility for it, you can’t move past it. When God asked Adam, what have you done, Adam does three things:
Tries to evade the questionShrinks from responsibility by deflecting to EveBlames the one asking the question – God
Only when Adam said “I ate it”, was he able to move forward.
2. Flourish in forgiveness. No one gets past failure by feeling guilt or shame. Healthy steps forward through failure come by finding grace. God extends grace to all who seek it. When we own our failure, God will own our shame.
3. Learn from your responses. What are your responses to setbacks, difficulties and failures? Give up? Medicate yourself in unhealthy ways? Blame someone else? Make excuses? Get angry? Learning from your failures gives you fuel to change these patterns.
4. Reach for a new beginning. Create forward movement with new response patterns. God stepped into the middle of Adam and Eve’s failure and provided a new life with a promise. He designed you for fulfillment, not to stay stuck in failure. God placed inside you the capacity to follow his plan – a plan for a hope and a future… (Jeremiah 29:11)
You may have stopped dreaming about what life could be. You might be discouraged or have resigned yourself to think you just need to settle for less.
My journey has taught me this. When I refuse to skip past my flaws, failures and flops and deal with them honestly, I find myself experiencing God’s love in deeper ways. I discover the power available to me through His promise of new beginnings.
How will you take ownership today?
Defeating Shame and Finding Purpose…
Failing in relationships and in Graduate school. Sheran faced her shame and found new meaning through her relationship with Jesus Christ.