Week of: January 17, 2011
Sharing by: Pam Crawford
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.”
As a student of the Bible, and sister in Christ, I want to express my desire to love on, comfort, and encourage you through these weekly devotions. I would like for you to also understand that in my own strength I could not do this work. When I look around these days I see so many people hurting and in need of support and encouragement. I often feel helpless to doing anything about it. It is my prayer that maybe in some small way, these writings can reflect a set of helping hands to someone who may be in need of a word of encouragement from time to time.
I am coming to the realization that our circumstances are often tests of our faith, which God administers not only to draw us to Him, but also to empower us to become effective witnesses to others. As I reflect on my current test, dealing with negative and anxious thoughts, I am discovering that many of my internal struggles have a common denominator - my lack of trust in God’s ability to handle or change a situation that I bring before Him. If I’m ever to reach a place of Spiritual maturity this is going to have to change! I share this with you so that you understand that I too have work ahead to do. Thankfully, God is a merciful God (Lamentations 3:22-24) and lucky for us each day brings about another opportunity to get it right.
Over the past few weeks I have been sharing a little bit of my experience with toxic thinking. I do hope the resources have been helpful. This week I want to look at a specific result of allowing toxic thoughts to take root – anxiety. As I am determining to achieve God’s peace in my own life, I have had to do some soul searching of my own. What I found is critical to achieving all that God has planned out for me.
Anxiety is defined in the dictionary as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.” I think we might need to add that anxiety is a result of allowing toxic thinking to take up residency in our minds. If you read last weeks reflection you might remember that Dr. Caroline Leaf shared that “Fear-based emotions include hate, anxiety, anger, hostility, resentment, frustration, impatience and irritation. These produce toxic attitudes and create a chemical reaction in the body that can alter behavior.”
When I’m anxious it often opens the door to fearful thinking. I believe this is why Paul tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” May I suggest that when we allow this emotion to surface we’ve laid aside our trust in God? When situations arise in our life, Paul tells us that our responsibility is to pray and give thanks. I sure wish that I could get the simplicity of his directions. Instead I try to figure it all out and eventually I end up conceding that I’m powerless to change anything on my own. What a waste of precious time!
Over the years I have battled some intense fear-based emotions. Today, if I’m not careful, my anxious thoughts definitely have the ability to produce a toxic attitude that does not reflect the image of Christ. Like some of you, I have a particular situation in my life that Satan would love for me to believe is hopeless. And, if I allow my mind to stay there too long I run the risk of entertaining the idea that my thoughts are correct. With God’s help I am now taking some new steps and I am not going there! I’m going to begin today to live out in my head what my heart knows to be true. God is good, He loves me and He can be trusted in all things.
So how do we conquer our anxious thoughts? I believe that we run immediately to God with them. We tell Him exactly how we’re feeling and then we let Him love and guide us. Next, we claim the promises of His Word and finally we commit to trusting that He is working behind the scenes to bring about “good” from “evil”. There is a song by Babbie Mason that I listen to often titled “Trust His Heart.” Parts of the lyrics say, “When we can’t see His hand trust His heart.” When we really know the character of God then we know His heart. This will make it much easier for us to recognize the lies of the devil. Never forget that “fear” is an effective tool of the enemy.
Recently my husband gave me a small plaque that reads, “Faith is not believing that GOD can, it is knowing that HE will.” He bought this for me as a reminder to “hang in there” while God is at work in our prayers. These words could very well be the antidote we need for battling anxious, negative, toxic thoughts.
In her study Believing God; Beth Moore challenges us to learn:
- God is who He says He is.
- God can do what He says He can do.
- I am who God says I am.
- I can do all things through Christ.
- God’s Word is alive and active in me.
She’s right! Once we truly understand the power of being a child of God we will have less and less anxious days. Oh how I look forward to that as I continue to learn to control what I allow into my mind.
Footnote from Philippians 4 – Paul is writing from prison when he’s telling the church to rejoice. I think Paul’s attitude is important here. Even in his circumstance Paul was choosing to trust God for the outcome. His attitude was, even if he should die in prison he was determined to have God’s peace. Now that is a picture of someone free of anxiety.
In John 14:27 Jesus teaches his disciples about peace. He says,” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
The Life’s application commentary tells us, “True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. To be free of anxiety is to allow the Holy Spirit to take over and work in our hearts and mind. God’s peace is a confident assurance in any circumstance; that we have no need to fear the present or the future. If your life is full of stress, allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ’s peace.”
Additional Scripture Reading: Psalm 55:22-23, 1 Peter 5:7