Are you ready to Live PURPOSEFULLY
I had SO MUCH FUN talking with you all in this months live video teaching, “How to Stand Against Anxiety!” It was a blast, and I just KNOW some of you all are going to walk into the most amazing freedom you’ve ever experienced.
If you watched the video you learned two things about me:
1 | I’m a hand talker. Sorry, not sorry. Call it enthusiasm in action. Every speech is better for it;(or at least that’s what I tell myself 😉
2 | I am so passionate, so excited, and so ready to witness your victory as you take this stand against anxiety.
If you haven’t viewed the video or you’d like to view it again you can catch the replay in my Life & Faith Group on Facebook OR read it for yourself (detailed speaking points, scripture references, testimonials, and resources included) in the remainder of this post.
Here’s a crazy truth bomb for you. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 and 54 are affected by anxiety disorders. It has become the number one mental health issue in North America. You may have read about my past struggles with anxiety or seen videos on my Facebook including tips that helped me work through it all. Today I’m going to take you deeper.
We talk about anxiety as a mental health issue and we talk about how it affects our bodies. But we don’t often talk about what anxiety is from a biblical perspective and knowing THAT is a key piece to living victoriously in this arena. So let’s jump right into it. We’ll start by addressing this question.
Can Christians Have Anxiety?
“If you’re really a Christian you wouldn’t have anxiety.” How many of us have heard that statement before? In conversation, on the internet, or simply in passing? I want to debunk this myth right now and let you know this is NOT a gospel truth. It’s not. Becoming a follower of Jesus doesn’t make you perfect and it doesn’t make you immune to suffering or the hardships that are experienced because of sin entering the world. What sets us apart from those who don’t have a relationship with God is that when hard times surface or spiritual attacks come against us (which they will), we can stand against them with the strength of a victorious God.
We read in the Bible, John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Right off the bat, we learn two truths about this life:
1. That we will have troubles.
2. Because Christ has overcome the world and all that is in it, we can have victory over our troubles. (see John 16:10).
I was a praying girl long before I started experiencing anxiety. Anxiety chased me anyways. Why? Because it’s a tool of the enemy and that’s what the enemy does. He PURSUES. See, Christ pursues us to bring us life and freedom and you all know Satan, he’s a copy cat. He tenaciously pursues us too, only he pursues with evil intent; not to love us or bring us freedom, but to devour us.
Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” That’s 1 Peter 5:8.
Satan’s not just looking to destroy the people who have no clue. He knows a thing or two about warfare and he knows If you want to bring down a Kingdom you go after it’s mightiest warriors. I don’t doubt for one second that is part of the reason why Jesus loving, spirit-filled, faithful Christians experience this struggle. Satan is looking for an entryway into the body of Christ and he is not above using the areas where we are weak to break his way in.
The question, now that we’ve exposed this plot is, “what do we do about it?”
How to Live Victoriously and Stand Against Anxiety
I’m going to give you 5 takeaways, 5 biblically backed actions steps that can help you stand firm against the spirit of fear and anxiety and start living a life of victory. If you’re serious about escaping the grip of anxiety, grab a notebook, a pencil, and spot on the couch. Let’s get equipped for battle.
Step 1 | Stop claiming ownership of anxiety! It does not belong to you!
When Jesus died and rose from the grave He overcame every oppressive spirit we could possibly endure; anxiety included. And when “the Son sets you free you are free indeed.” So quit claiming ownership over something Jesus died to set you free from. You may be someone who has experienced or battled (or is battling) anxiety, but it is not YOUR anxiety.
Anxiety is an oppressive, fear-based, spirit. And “God didn’t give you a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
If we want to be effective in our stand against anxiety we cannot claim anxiety as something that belongs to us. Instead, lay it at the feet of Jesus. Cast your burden on Him.
2 | Learn how to direct (or focus) your thoughts.
To be 100% clear I am NOT talking about any sort of eastern meditation practice or anything related to that. There is a big difference between meditation as instructed through the Bible and meditation as associated with yoga and middle eastern or new age practices. Adopting the biblical practice of meditation means we CHOOSE to focus our thoughts on the truths of the Bible and to let those truths and teaching lead us. It’s intentionally recalling who God is, what He is capable of, what He promises, what He intends for us, and how He has equipped us.
This is one of the most powerful demonstrations of faith we could exhibit because it affects almost every area of our lives; anxiety included. Paul addresses this very thing in his letter to the church of Philippi. He says,
“Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:8
He continues on to say,
“Finally brothers and sisters whatever is true… noble… right… pure… lovely… admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things.”
Through this passage, we not only learn how to gain peace when anxiousness arises, but Paul also instructs us on how to keep our thoughts from gripping onto fear and running wild with it. We set our thoughts on that which is excellent and praiseworthy. We let the peace of God rule our hearts and minds (Colossians 3:15). This is just a portion of what it looks like to walk in the newness that comes with being adopted by God.
Dr. Caroline Leaf has a phenomenal book called “Switch on Your Brain” that goes more indepth on this topic. I love that she uses scripture to teach people how to take authority over their thought lives and she does it in a way that someone like me who has a very limited understanding of neurosciences could still grasp the information and actually make sense of it. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone, especially people working through anxiety.
God teaches us in so many words through out the Bible that our thoughtlives are our responsibility. He doesn’t just leave it at that, He provides us with plenty of sound instruction for managing our though lives in a way that honors Him and blesses us.
3 | Claim what God has for you.
I mentioned before the season of my life where I struggled with MAJOR anxiety. I can’t even accurately describe how it felt. I just don’t have the words. But I remember my mom in her wisdom telling me that instead of focusing so much energy in denouncing what was coming against me, why not spend some time declaring and claiming what God had for me.
This advice changed the way I handle conflict in my life. It was the advice that open the doorway to victory in my life. How? It required me to open up my Bible and find out for myself exactly what provisions God had made for me and what promises he had made to me as a beloved daughter.
I remember, opening my Bible, turning to the Index on the last pages and looking up word after word, verse after verse. And for me, it wasn’t enough to just read the verse a time or two. I needed to write it down, read it an obnoxious amount of times and speak twice as much. I needed to crowd my heart and soul with the truth of who God is and what He, as a Father whose love for me is beyond extravagant, has provided for me and promised to me. This is essential to cultivating a lifestyle of victory. This is where faith based thoughts translate into faith-filled actions. This is where you DO. God has given us the tools to walk in freedom. It is our responsiblity to wake up, show up, and put the tools to work. Freedom requires that of us.
We learn in Ephesians 1:3 that because of our relationship with Christ-Jesus we have been blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing. Peace is a spiritual blessing. It’s something you can’t obtain through natural means.
Same with joy. Hope. Agape love.
These are all part of the blessing that come from having a relationship with God and trusting in His ability, as our Heavenly Father” to provide for us.
4 | Equip Yourselves! Saturate your life with the WORD.
Plain and simple, you can’t fight a spiritual battle earthly tools. At some point you have to stop relying soley of physical remedies and start incorporating your faith into your plan of action. I’m not saying to stop seeing doctors or taking medication that’s perscribed for you. What I am saying, is that if active faith isn’t a part of your recovery plan or your victory walk, then your plan/walk is incomplete.
Maybe, your faith isn’t too that point yet. Maybe you just don’t “feel it.” I’ve been there too. Lucky for you and I our faith isn’t built off of our emotions or what we feel (Hebrews 11:1). It’s not built off of our circumstances, our mountain tops, or valleys. It’s built on our decision to align with the TRUTH of who God is, what He’s capable, and what He can accomplish through us – All things that are spelled out over and over and over again through each chapter of the Bible.
I love how David expresses this in Psalm 27:13, “I would have lost heart had I not believed that I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”
5 | Understand that victory in Christ is a LIFESTYLE, not a “one and done” thing.
Remember how at the beginning of this video we talked about how Satan pursues? To pursue requires a certain amount of persistence. We see this demonstrated in Luke 4:13 when Satan is tempting Jesus. Jesus resist every temptation and it says that the devil went away until a more opportune time.
The devil looks for opportunities to exploit our weaknesses. Wether that be a fear based, lust based, confidnece based, authority based; whatever it may be, He’s strategic enough know where and when He can plant seeds of fear and anxiety in your life. So you and I, have to be intentional about shutting that down the moment we start to recognize something isn’t 100%. That’s another reason why it’s so important to saturate yourself in truth, is so that when you feel yourself being triggered or you know you’re going to be walking through “the fire” so to speak; you are equipped with the truth of who you are, whose you are, you can suit up, put on the armor of God and start declaring (and acting in agreement with) your victory.
Now I have a print out of some of the verse and declarations that I use(d) to manage my thoughts and actions while battling anxiety. Keep them on your night stand, in your car, your purse, your bathroom, on your refrigerator. On your front door. That was one of my favorite place to keep my prayer cards so as I was entering or exiting my home I could do so with a right heart and calm mind. Keeping them on the fridge helped me gain control over my eating habits so that I wasn’t responding to anxiety by eating my fears and feelings. I did actively use these, they’re always appreciated by community memebers. You’ll find them attached to the video in my Facebook Group.
Also we talked a bit about focusing our thoughts and biblical meditation. If you’re looking for resources to help you gain understanding on how to put that to practice and how it’s different from what is described in middle eastern cultures and new age practices definitely check out these three books:
1. Battle Field of the Mind by Joyce Meyer
2. Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyer
3. Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf
These are all books and teaching that I have personally used and recommend. I appreciate more than anything that they are backed by scripture.
If you want to catch my personal testimony you can view it on the blog, How I Used the Bible to Overcome Anxiety.
Friends, anxiety doesn’t own you and it sure as heck doesn’t rule you. And if you’re tired of it’s reign in your life, I want to to encourage you to get up and start fighting the good fight. Put the Word of God to work in your life!
Victory is yours!