You don’t need to be a slave to anxiety! Find out important and powerful spiritual methods to contend with it successfully.
[Gary Petty] What concerns you? What makes you feel anxious?
Recent studies estimate that approximately 30 percent of adults living in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders. Now, everyone suffers some anxiety—taking a test at school, the first day on a new job, going to the dentist. You may feel a little anxious just thinking about these situations.
But what happens when overwhelming nervousness, fear, worry and anxiety is a part of everyday living? We talked with people in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio about anxiety. Have you ever felt this way?
>I worry about almost everything.
[Steve] Do you?
[Steve] So whatever comes to mind?
>Yeah, I have a bit of anxiety that way.
[Gary] Christians suffer from anxiety, although we may not want to talk about it because it seems like a lack of faith. Let’s talk about it. Join us on Beyond Today as we discuss: “Confronting Anxiety.”
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[Gary] We all suffer from some anxiety. And it seems like there are a lot of things to be anxious about.
[Steve] What is it about day to day living that kind of maybe makes you anxious?
>Well right now I’m on a fixed income, so you know it’s hard to try to find a job. And with a fixed income, a lot of people don’t really want to hire you. So therefore, that stresses you out too, as well. And you’re scared to get off of the fixed income because you can’t find a job.
>>I ain’t got no way to drive no more…
>The thing that lately has been on my mind a lot—and this is a bigger picture kind of thing—it’s not really a, well it is personal. It affects me—but is our environment. That’s my biggest fear is of how the future holds for, just our environment in general I guess, and how that affects everyone on a daily basis.
>>Sometimes, I have some health problems, so maybe because of that, I don’t want to be dependent on others…
[Gary] Does any of this sound familiar? Everyone experiences anxiety, but what happens when anxiety becomes a daily struggle with almost every activity, every thought, triggering nervousness, fear and worry? What can you do when anxiety becomes so consuming that you feel paralyzed by the simplest actions of daily life?
There are many causes for overwhelming anxiety. There are times when a person suffering from uncontrolled anxiety will need the help of a professional counselor or medical treatment. On Beyond Today, we want to help you understand the spiritual side of all human dysfunctional emotions including overwhelming anxiety.
The first step in dealing with the spiritual side of anxiety may seem obvious, but it’s a step we often forget—seek God’s help in prayer.
This may sound a little bit simplistic when you’re feeling overwhelmed. But one of the reasons for anxiety is the feeling that we have little control over what is happening to us. Well the truth is is that we don’t have control over what other people do, or the national economy, or the weather, or the traffic or if our children get sick or, okay, you’re starting to feel a little anxious right?
Well there is great comfort in accepting that the Creator is greater than all of our problems. Trusting in God’s power, love, and personal interest in you can bring a sense of peace to the stresses of everyday life.
Listen to what the apostle Paul wrote about dealing with anxiety: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God...” (Philippians 4:6).
In other words: seek God. Take your anxieties to Him. Tell Him how you feel, explain your fears and worries, pour them out to your Father in heaven. But notice the other point Paul makes: “with thanksgiving.”
We will never learn to confront anxiety, worry and fear until we are consciously thankful for the good things in life. As long as we concentrate only on the negative, we will experience negative emotions. Now here is a simple action you can take every night before you go to bed. Make a mental list of all the good things that happened that day and thank God. Even if it’s a small list—thank God.
Now we’re going to come back to this principle and how it can change your life in just a few minutes.
But note this: When we follow Paul’s instructions to bring our requests to God in heartfelt prayer, along with a thankful attitude, something happens. Let’s look back at what he wrote in the next verse: “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
I have to admit, there have been times in my life when fear, worry and anxiety were overwhelming. And in those desperate moments, I’ve cried out to God knowing that He only has the wisdom, power, and love to calm my human anxieties. And I have experienced His peace. It is a peace that surpasses human understanding. And you also can experience God’s peace.
Prayer is a very personal relationship between you and God. Jesus Christ, who can relate to our human fears and weaknesses, sits at the right hand of the Father. We are told that we are to pray in the name of Jesus. Paul wrote that when we approach God He will—remember what we just read—“guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” Seeking God can give us protection from our own dysfunctional emotions and thoughts and from the outside influences that turn us negative and cause anxiety.
Prayer—talking with God—can be done anytime, anyplace. At the same time, we need to approach Him with reverence. Remember that there are times to kneel before God in humility, recognizing His greatness, His sovereignty, Who He really is.
When you are overwhelmed with anxieties, don’t forget the spiritual side and seek God’s help in prayer.
Now, here is an important additional point: In dealing with anxiety, you also have to deal with the reality that sometimes you are your own worst enemy. You can fan the fire of anxiety through obsessive thoughts.
When we talked with people about anxiety, many of them recognize the problem with obsessive thinking.
[Steve] What is anxiety anyway?
>I don’t really, I don’t know. I don’t have a good definition for it really. It’s kind of almost irrationality about just like things you can’t stop thinking about basically. So, I don’t know. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s just kind of there basically.
>>It’s just like this fear that you build up and you can’t get rid of it. You don’t know how to get rid of it, because it’s a fear that you’ve made up.
[Gary] She’s right. Anxiety can become unmanageable.
Our second step in dealing with the spiritual side of anxiety is—get control of your anxious thoughts.
We have a free Beyond Today study guide, Tools for Spiritual Growth that can help you deal with obsessive worry and fear by practicing what the Bible calls meditation.
Now biblical meditation isn’t a yoga technique to obtain self-awareness. Biblical meditation is to shut out all of the noise and clutter of everyday life and think deeply about God. It is to concentrate on the wonder of His creation. It is to explore the application of His instructions found in the Bible directly to your life.
So, how do we do this? Paul wrote this to the church at Philippi: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
Now here is what you need to do. Tomorrow morning, before you go to work, before you check your phone or turn on the computer, set aside 30 minutes and pray for God’s guidance. Read what Paul wrote and what we just read in Philippians 4:6-8. Look up the meaning of the words he uses. Words like noble, pure and excellent and then sit quietly and think about what Paul is teaching.
Just take 30 minutes at the start of the day to connect with God. If you think you don’t have the time to do this, then your schedule is part of the reason for your anxieties. Make the time—take something else out of your life and replace it with a personal relationship with God Almighty.
Now just think about this: How many ads pop up on the computer? Or shout at you from the television screen, or radio speakers? That just 20 minutes a day can reshape your body, take away your wrinkles or help you lose weight? Now how many of these promises really work?
But starting each day by connecting to God for 30 minutes can actually change your life. Make this the most important daily goal: begin each day with 30 minutes of prayer, Bible study and meditation on what God is teaching you. Then throughout the day when you are filled with anxious thoughts, return in prayer to your meditation, what you learned from God’s Word. And take that and apply it to your life.
Now we deal with the spiritual side of anxiety by first seeking God in prayer and then replacing obsessive thoughts by reading the Bible and taking time to think about what God is teaching us about His purpose for our lives.
Remember too, at the end of the day, think about the good. When you go to sleep thinking about all the bad in your life, you will wake up in the morning thinking about all the bad in your life.
A third point in dealing with the spiritual side of anxiety has to do with personal relationships.
Numerous studies have shown that people in their twenties and thirties are suffering from an unusual amount of anxiety compared to their grandparents or parents when they were young. Now it’s not that their grandparents and parents didn’t face their share of anxious events—the social upheavals of the 1960’s, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the economic downturn of the 1970’s were all times of worry and fear.
The difference is in the cause of overwhelming anxiety in many younger people. Psychology Today, in an article titled “Social Media, Loneliness, and Anxiety in Young People,” reported that the “fear of missing out” and the barrage of information on social media can not only cause anxiety, but actually causes feelings of loneliness and alienation.
In the last few years, there have been many disturbing accounts of teens and college students who have had breakdowns or even commit suicide because they were so overwhelmed by trying to live up to a false sense of self-worth measured by pictures of everyone else having fun, always smiling, or the idea of popularity by the number of “friends” or “likes.”
How could they get help or even seek help when everyone else seemed so problem free?
Studies show that social media overuse can affect physical health as well as school and job performance.
Now listen to this startling paragraph from Psychology Today, “…just as with any other forms of addiction, fear of not being able to use or access social networking sites causes added distress—in this case caused by feelings of social exclusion...This is...” Now listen to this: “This is a significant sign of addiction—for many of us, our social media is often the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we check before going to sleep! Social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide constant updates which can turn a mere interest in social networks into an unhealthy, stressful, compulsion...” (Psychology Today website, December 15, 2016).
We’ve been talking about this: obsessive thinking.
This means that to be spiritually and emotionally healthy, you must take time to disengage from social media. Listen to this, tomorrow morning when you get out of bed resist the urge to grab the phone. It’s hard. Instead, go to a quiet place and spend a half hour in prayer, Bible study and meditation. There is nothing more important on Instagram or in your e-mail than the time you could spend with the Creator of the universe!
Remember at night before you go to bed: shut down all media, make the mental list we talked about of what you are thankful for that day, meditate and talk with God. This can change your life!
Now we need to take a few minutes and talk about teenage addiction to social media. The article in Psychology Today concludes this, “…social media such as Facebook have become surrogates for seeking connectedness and as a consequence our connections grow broader but shallower.”
The result can actually create social anxiety—a feeling that you aren’t really connected to anyone.
The Bible is a book about relationships. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor. When something as simple as e-mail, which gives us the ability to accomplish many tasks—we all use e-mail everyday—but when it becomes emotionally addictive, it begins to denigrate meaningful, healthy, face-to-face relationships.
So our third step in dealing with anxiety is to limit your time on social media and spend more time in face-to-face talking and in activities with the people who really count in your life. Those who just click like, don’t necessarily really count in your life.
Now at first this may not be easy. Let’s face it. Many of us are somewhat addicted to social media. Getting your children or grandchildren to spend a couple of days with the family in a cabin, swimming, hiking and talking may at first cause an enormous amount of stress, anxiety, even anger. These are all behaviors of emotional withdrawal.
Social media can add a real benefit to life. Social media is not evil. It can be good. But the problem is, is that when it’s misused, it can lead to emotional addiction and causes anxiety.
We’re going to discuss controlling anxiety with the Beyond Today panel, but first let’s recap the three steps we’ve talked about today.
First: Seek God’s help in prayer. Seek God’s help when you are overwhelmed with your emotions.
Two: Get control of your anxious thoughts. This begins every morning when you take half an hour of quiet time to pray, read the Bible, and think about what you’re reading. You can return to this experience throughout the day in prayer and meditation. Then, at the end of the day, approach God with thankfulness for the good of that day.
And three: Limit your time on social media and spend more face-to-face time with the people who really count in your life.
We’re joined by Beyond Today presenters Steve Myers and Darris McNeely. Welcome guys. We’ve been talking about anxiety.
Why is it that so many people find it hard, especially Christians sometimes, to talk about their anxieties?
[Darris] Well if you are a man Gary, men don’t like to admit that there might be something that they are weak in and that they are not in total control over. So, I would expect that for many men, Christian or otherwise, believer or otherwise, that is why there is that concern.
[Steve] And I think for anyone, you have to admit you fall short in some areas. You have to admit that even though the Bible says I shouldn’t be anxious, don’t worry, don’t have a care, we still do, which means we’ve got to confront that. We’ve got to look at our own lives and then come before God and admit it. And so, sometimes that’s the hardest thing is to admit you’ve got a problem.
[Gary] In fact, we’ll never get better until we do. You’ll never deal with anxiety until you confront it and you accept it. What are some of the ways that we can deal with anxiety in a Christian way?
[Steve] Well one of the things that the Bible is really clear on when it talks about anxiousness and those worries, it says we are to take them to God. That we’ve got to bring them before God. That we make our supplications and prayer to God when we deal with our anxiousness. And so, to do that—even like the instructions that you were giving—start our day that way. Give them over to God because there are things that we just can’t handle ourselves. And so, give them over to God. He will take care of them. He has promised to do that for us. So it says, cast every care on Him. So, tell Him about it. Let Him know what the issues are that you’re dealing with and He can help you through those things.
[Darris] Gary you have given really the best prescription, for anyone regardless, to deal with anxiety. You’ve talked about prayer, taking it to God in prayer, talking to God. There’s something about confession. It’s not a biblical statement, but we’ve all heard confession is good for the soul. And although the Bible does talk about confessing our sin, but it’s in the action of talking with God in prayer that we take that correct proper step toward getting a handle on a problem, anxiety and beginning to work with it. We’re making a connection with God.
The second step that you talked about of reading the Bible and really literally versing our thoughts into the Word of God and letting God’s Word in a sense, wash over our own thoughts and help us put some groves in our own thinking that are along righteous paths. Those are two very critical things. But at the end of all of that, the biggest step that we can take is to get up off our knees, to close the Bible and to begin to take some positive steps to take control of our life. We have to do that.
If it’s a man, we have to get our thoughts in line. For a woman as well, it’s a matter of taking those steps to take charge of our life. And when we begin to do that, what we’ve learned as we’ve read the Word of God, as we’ve talked with God begins to kick in. But we’ve got to come to a point in our life where we take that step.
[Gary] You know, a lot of times I think people, they just want to talk about their anxieties. And talking about them actually makes them worse, it doesn’t solve anything. There’s a point where you talk them through…
[Gary]..and there’s a point you get out and you do something. You face it.
[Steve] Yeah, you’ve got to. I mean they say, talk is cheap. So what are you doing? We’ve got to put our faith into action. So if we really believe the Bible, we believe in God, He says I am not going to leave you. I am not going to forsake you. So do we trust Him? Do we absolutely put our faith in Him so we give Him our cares. We hand that anxiety over to Him and we expect Him to work through us and in us so that we can overcome those problems. Because without walking in faith—we can’t walk by sight, we have got to walk by faith. Put it over in God’s hands and He promises that He won’t leave us. He is going to help us through these things.
[Gary] When people come to me and talk about anxiety, one of the first things I do is I take them to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus talks about don’t have anxious thoughts because your Father knows what you need. It’s a great passage. When people come to you to talk about anxiety, what biblical passage or example—where do you take them to begin to discuss that?
[Steve] One of the ones that always comes to my mind is the example of Joshua. Here is Joshua leading the children of Israel, the great leader Moses is dead. Can you imagine the worry of coming into an unknown land and what’s going to happen? In fact, they have got giants and all kinds of major anxious problems there. And yet, God says, be strong and courageous. Be of good courage because God’s with him. And so, to remember that, even when we are facing the giants of life, God is with us. And he is such a great example of that because he goes forward. And it didn’t matter what the odds are. He knew God was on his side and was going to fight his battles for him.
[Darris] Probably for me, it’s the story of Elijah, the great prophet of the Old Testament who confronted the priests of Baal. God had given him certain power. He sealed up the heavens, no rain for three and a half years. It was a time of great apostacy in Israel. They were caught up in paganism and then on Mount Carmel, Elijah had this great confrontation with the prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven. And they were literally all killed. It was one of the dramatic scenes of the Old Testament. Here was a man of God, powerful prophet, God worked in His life. And then after that event, Jezebel the queen says, I am coming after you Elijah. And he just melts and he runs. And he runs as far as into the desert, into the wilderness, hides in a cave. God confronts him and basically says come on out. I am in charge. I am in control here. I’ve got this, is what God says.
We run too. We get into a flight syndrome at times when we hit conflict, stress, anxiety. And we want to run. Even after we may have had some successes. And we know that we are strong enough in other areas. And it’s, that story I think that helps me personally that I found to help other people recognize that it’s okay to recognize your weakness and to admit it, but don’t run. And realize that God is there. God’s got this and God can help.
[Gary] What’s so great about that story too is how God shows up in a whirlwind and He talks to him so gently.
[Darris] In a small voice.
[Gary] In a small voice.
[Darris] A still, small voice.
[Gary] So there’s so many ways people can learn. There are so many places they can go into the Scripture to realize we all have anxiety. We all have dysfunctional emotions, but God can help us through this. But we all do have to do something. At the end of the day, we have to act.
As we’ve discussed throughout today’s program, many people, including Christians, suffer from anxiety. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to deal with the spiritual side of anxiety in a powerful and effective manner.
To help you understand just how you can do this—we have prepared a valuable, free study guide: Tools for Spiritual Growth.
This simple to read study guide offers you critical spiritual keys to successfully confronting anxiety, which includes the building of a dynamic and life-changing relationship with your God.
I strongly encourage you to order your own, personal free copy of Tools for Spiritual Growth by calling us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or you can go online at BeyondToday.tv or write to us at the address shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
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Again, to order your free study guide, Tools for Spiritual Growth and your free subscription to Beyond Today magazine call: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download them.
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Once again, the three points we covered today about “Confronting Anxiety”:
First: Seek God’s help in prayer. Seek God’s help when you are overwhelmed with your emotions.
Two: Get control of anxious thoughts. This begins every morning when you take a half hour of quiet time to pray, read the Bible, and think about what you’ve read. You can return to this experience throughout the day in prayer and meditation. Then, end the day with thankfulness before God for the good of that day.
Three: Limit your time on social media and spend more face-to-face time with the people who really count in your life.
Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
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