Breaking the Chokehold of Worry and Anxiety

Worry and Anxiety: A Life Being Pulled in Different Directions
Photo by: Karla Da Silva (Used by Permission)

Have you ever felt pulled in several directions at once?  You know you should have faith in God, and yet worry and anxiety have a chokehold upon your whole life.  The future seems dim. Your life is at a standstill.  Sleep escapes you.  God seems very distant. Despair is ruling your life.  What can you do?

The word “worry” comes from the West Germanic word, “wrygen” which means “to strangle” or “to choke”.   Worry not only chokes our spiritual life, but also our emotional, social, and physical life. God knows the power that worry and anxiety  have upon us.  He tells us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

How do we break this chokehold that worry and anxiety have upon us?  God gives us several ways to break this chokehold.

1. Understand the consequences that worry and anxiety have upon our lives.   The words “be careful for nothing”  have the idea of “stop being pulled in different directions”.  Worry is sin because it keeps us from giving glory to God.  It also keeps us from serving God and others to our full capacity.  Worry causes us to doubt the goodness of God.  This creates confusion in our lives.  For these reasons and many others, God commands us to stop worrying.

2. Focus upon God and not upon our circumstances.  The above passage says, “Let your request be made known unto God.”  God is the source of peace.  When our eyes turn from our trials and are focused upon  God, we will see the greatness of God’s power, wisdom, love and sovereignty.  We know that we can trust Him regardless of what comes our way.  God is greater than any circumstance in our lives.

3. Talk to God about the source of our worry and anxiety.  The passage says: “but in everything by prayer and supplication”.  God, our loving Father, wants us to take every hurt, misunderstanding, health issue, family issue, financial problem, doubt, and personal issue unto Him. He alone can carry that burden.  “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Worry and anxiety say I will carry my burden.  Faith says I will take that burden to the Lord and leave it there.

4. Learn to give thanks to God in everything.  Many problems and heartaches that choke us can be turned into blessings when we learn to give God thanks in everything that happens. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Th 5:18)  This doesn’t mean we thank God for everything.  When we thank Him in everything, we are saying to God: “I commit this circumstance, person or problem that is choking my life unto you.  I thank you that you are fulfilling your great purpose in my life even in the midst of this great trial or burden.”

5. Enjoy God’s promise of His Peace.  God tells us that His peace “passeth all understanding”.  God’s presence and peace shine forth in those who face their deepest trials with faith in Him.  I have been beside many people who are facing death and yet they had a peace that passes all human wisdom.  God’s peace doesn’t make sense to people around us because His peace isn’t based upon circumstances. It is based upon the enjoyment of His presence.

God doesn’t want any of us to be continually pulled in two directions.  He wants us to turn our faces directly towards Him.  The songwriter wrote: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.”  God will break the chokehold of anxiety and worry in our lives.  Will we trust Him to do so?  “The truth shall make you free.”

-Mark J. Booth-

I Will Never Leave You (The Presence of God in the Dark Times)

Photo by: Karla Da Silva (By Permission)

Nineteen years ago, I said goodbye to my father.  He had  suffered a stroke and I returned to the States to see him one last time.  He probably recognized me, but he couldn’t communicate with me.  My heart was heavy as I returned to Portugal. I would never  see me father again.  My father didn’t leave me by choice, but he was gone.  I miss my father greatly.

In life, we all face separation from one that has loved us.  This separation is painful; however, there is One who will never leave us.  Our Heavenly Father is always with us.  Hebrews 13:5 says: ” Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  God is with us in the good times and He is with us in dark times.  How does His presence affect our lives?

God’s presence gives us a contented heart in dark times. The tendency in life is to complain about everything.  We want more.  We want it faster.  We want it our way.  When things don’t happen the way we desire, we become bitter and complain.  Our lack of contentment is saying that God is doing a poor job of taking care of us.

Contentment means that we find our joy and happiness in a right relationship with our Living Lord.  In spite of the tough times, we know that He is right there with us.  He will not leave us.  He will walk with us through any valley.  As the Psalmist says: “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

God’s presence gives us strength in the dark times. The Word of God informs us that Our Heavenly Father will never leave us. “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper. ” (Hebrews 13:6) The dark times in this life weaken us spiritually, emotionally and even physically.  We may feel like quitting.   God’s presence gives us strength to carry on.  God told Paul: “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (Hebrews 13:6) Our weakness says to God:  “I need your strength.”  God will respond.

God’s presence gives us courage in the dark times. Dark times can bring out the coward in us.  We become fearful of people. We become fearful of the future.  We become fearful of failure.  Where do we find the courage to move forward.  “I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”  (Hebrews 13:6) God’s presence and love will cast out the fear that so easily torments us.

As a child,  I developed a fear of crossing the street.  The one street that brought out the most fear was Woodward Ave. This street had three lanes of traffic each way.  However, when my Dad had my hand the fear dissipated.  Likewise,  no matter how difficult a road we travel, Our heavenly Father has us by the hand.

My Dad has left, but my Heavenly Father will never leave me.  He is with me in the good times and the dark times.  Yes, the clouds of darkness may dim my view of God, but He is still with me.  May I lean upon Him in the darkest night so that I may see his presence in midst of the darkness.

-Mark J. Booth-

The Goodness of the Lord in Troubled Times

Trouble, trials, and tragedy strike every person who has ever walked upon the earth.  When trouble comes, do we blame God? Do we ignore God; or do we trust Him?

King David had his share of problems, but he never forgot the Goodness of the  Lord.  He writes: “O taste and see that the LORD IS GOOD: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8)  How does God show His goodness in the troubles, trial, and tragedies of life?

1) God shows His goodness in His attributes. “The Lord is Good”  Every attribute reflects His Goodness (How well do I know Him?)
2) God shows His goodness in His promises.  “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: ” (2 Peter 1:4) (Do I know and believe His promises?)
3) God shows His goodness in His Actions. “Thou art good, and doest good” All that God does is Good. (Psalm 119:68) (Do I believe that “All things work together for good to those that love God.” (Romans 8:28)
4) God shows His goodness in His Love.  “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) God’s love is His motive for what He is doing in our lives  (Do I believe that God loves me with an unconditional and unending love?
5) God shows His goodness in His Wisdom. ” In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3 ) God’s  thoughts are way beyond our comprehension.   (Do I trust in God’s wisdom or mine own wisdom?)

In the midst of trouble, trials and tragedy, remember the Goodness of God.  God’s plan for our lives  is the result of His goodness, even when there is pain in the process.  Will we trust in His Goodness today?

Hope in the Midst of the Ruins (What to do When Everything Falls Apart)

Photographer: Roehnert

Ruins tell the story of decay, neglect and destruction.  Our spiritual lives can also face times of ruin and decay.  We feel hopeless and in despair.  The Prophet Jeremiah faced a time in his life when he was in the midst of the ruins of Jerusalem.  Babylon had completely destroyed the city.  All hope was gone.  How did Jeremiah handle this hopeless condition? How can we handle our hopeless condition?

Jeremiah, in the midst of the ruins of Jerusalem, looks up to God.  He says in Lamentations 3:21:  “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” He knows in himself there are no answers: ” My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:” (Lam 3:18) However, he knows that his hope is in God alone.

When we are facing hopelessness in our lives,  our only hope is in the Lord alone.  We must take our eyes off the ruins around us and in us, and focus on the Lord.  Jeremiah focuses on five attributes of God that brings great hope in his life in spite of the ruins around Him.
1. God is Merciful– “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, ”  (Lamentations 3:22) We find hope in His forgiveness, as we come to Him with a repentant heart.
2.  God is Compassionate. “because his compassions fail not.” (Lam. 3:22b)
We find hope in his compassion.  He does love us even in the midst of our hopeless situation.
3. God is Faithful“They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness“. (Lamentations 3:23) We find hope in His faithfulness to keep all of His    promises.
4. God is Omnipresent. (He is with me) ” The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” Lamentations  3:24 We find hope in His presence.  He walks with us in the midst of the ruins and the rebuilding thereof.
5. God is Good.  “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.”  Lamentations 3:25 We find hope in the will of God, which is always for our good.

What will we do in the midst of our hopelessness?  Will we stay defeated and discouraged or will we look up to our great and mighty God?  Jeremiah discovered great hope in a hopeless situation and so can we!!