“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Being anxious has always been a struggle. I tend to overthink everything, conjure up different outcomes to situations, and predict worst-case scenarios. Anxiety has affected my life in various ways. I’ve experienced difficulty sleeping, tiredness, and feeling disconnected to people. I have believed the lie that God is incapable of helping me, and that I can figure it all out on my own. I recognize that I have allowed anxiety to rule my life, and it has caused me to feel hopeless, abandoned, stuck, and unsafe.
Last month, I preached my very first sermon to our campus ministry with about a hundred college students present. Public speaking has always been a source of apprehension regardless of the number of listeners. It could be a one-on-one conversation, a small group discussion, or an auditorium full of people. No matter the assignment anxiety, worry, doubt, and insecurity overwhelms me.
Leading up to me preaching, I had a choice to make: I could either continue to surrender to the spirit of anxiety or surrender to the spirit of God. In those weeks before my sermon, I had to fix my eyes and mind on Jesus. I submerged myself in the presence of God. I prayed scripture over myself, and I listened to music that reminded me I belonged to Jesus and that God was with me.
I decided that fear was no longer going to have the final say and I chose to surrender to God. Because I surrendered my fears and anxieties to Him, in exchange, He gave me peace, affirmation, direction, confidence, and victory. I no longer was scrambling to figure everything out, and feeling sad because I felt out of control. I felt safe and secure in the arms of my Father. I had confidence that He would help me every step of the way.
The good news is: He did. He gave me the sermon to preach and everything in-between. My faith and trust in God increased because of this experience with Him.
And maybe you have felt the same way as I did. Crippling anxiety pulsing through your body to the point you feel helpless. For me, I experience it when I’m speaking. For you, it may be daily unforeseen circumstances, academics, social interactions, family issues, a deadline you can’t meet, financial struggles, or a health diagnosis. Regardless of when or how the outcome of anxiousness is the same. We all get robbed of our joy, peace, and gratitude. We all experience being frozen by fear.
What I find interesting is that fear sees a threat, but anxiety imagines one. When you are anxious, you are excessively thinking about what could happen, and not trusting in the One who knows all. This devotional scripture reveals two promises: Jesus is with us in our darkness and Jesus has the victory. Because of these promises, we can do four things every time anxiety or fear tries to come:
Rest in the secret place. In the middle of your anxiety, run to Jesus so that He can give you rest. He has not left you or forgotten about you. The secret place is where everything that is not of God must flee. Anxiety and fear have no place in the presence of God. You are safe in God’s hands. Worship God, pray scripture over yourself, and show gratitude. When you do these things it miraculously shifts your mind and heart from tirelessly wrestling to peace.
Remember who God is. Anxiety and fear will decrease as your understanding of your Father increases. When we know who God is, we will not surrender to anything else because we know that God is bigger than that. Verbally or through journaling, express God’s attributes to Him. He is the God of the universe, there is nothing that He cannot do. Anxiety is not bigger than our God. Jesus nailed anxiety and fear to the cross so it has no power over us.
Release control. A lesson that I’ve learned is that worrying about what I can’t control will not help me. Stop replaying what-if scenarios in your mind and pondering on what is missing. Focus on what you can do and trust God with the rest. We weren’t created to be able to control everything. If we could, we wouldn’t need God because we would be Him. We were created to depend and trust in Him. In your situation what action steps can you take? Make the phone call, apply for the job, start the diet, reach out for help, starting praying. Trust that God is sovereign and believe that with your little He can work a miracle.
Redirect your focus. Think about what you think about. Anxiety keeps us focused on what’s going wrong or what we are missing. Thanksgiving keeps us focused on God. You can still be grateful while being in a hard situation.
Jesus shines in your darkness, and the darkness cannot defeat Jesus. You have the victory because you have Jesus. Don’t keep allowing anxiety to push you around. Push back with the power of Jesus that’s within you.