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Challenged by Anxiety

There’s been an increased conversation about anxiety among believers and in our culture today.

Trending: google search ‘anxiety’ and 1,800,000,000 results occur.

Define what Anxiety is and its Difference to Fear

  • Fear comes from a flight or fright reaction. Anxiety is meditating on something and is ongoing.

  • Anxiety can only exist when fear, uncertainty, dread, and isolation are present.

  • Because we have God, we can gain freedom from anxiety. It’s okay to acknowledge that we have it, but also that we can be freed from it.




Examples of anxiety:

  • Unexpected transitions like an accident, divorce, etc.

  • Stress on Presidents show how they age over 4- and 8-year terms – before and after images where they look older substantially.

  • College student maneuvering through new place, new friends and adjusting to new study habits.

  • Isolation


Identifiers of Anxiety

1 Perfectionism

  • Is a sense of pride and performance-oriented behavior.

  • We don't need to be perfect, simply keep our word. Need freedom from self-induced perfectionism.

  • The Holy Spirit offers a place to begin and accomplish a simple task with His help.

  • Choose the middle ground vs. trying to appeal to others that drives us into stress.

  • Wrong perspective with God’s word: Lord will perfect what concerns you. Give your concerns to the Lord.

  • See God as the creator of all things, and He will direct our path.

  • He corrects us and redirects us when needed. How often do we feel: "not enough"

  • God uses imperfect people who are obedient.

  • Jesus acknowledged his emotions.

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18 NLT

2 Fear of Failure

Fearful where unable to hear voice of God i.e., Moses spoke failure over himself.

1. Learn how to step into it anyway.

2. There is no failure in trying.


Behavioral Signals: freeze up, made fun of, ridiculed, “what if” scenarios, OCD, fear of judgement or being bullied, delayed or no response to a text.


GOD IDEA: “The Lord is my light and my salvation – Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life – Whom shall I dread?” Psalm 27:1(AMP)


Help each other. It’s like training wheels used to learn to ride a bike to avoid falling off a bike. Cheer each other on and praise the positive movement!

Remind each other of God’s promise to us (not preachy):


“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT
“God didn't give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment.” 2 Tim 1:7 GWT

Areas Anxiety Impacts Us:


1. Emotionally

Unable to process information accurately, lack of clarity and filter with a wrong diagnosis.


Examples:

  • cancer screening – may assume we have it.

  • marriage issues in mind, already divorced in our mind as you see events around to solidify our worries.

  • Covid test – assume a symptom means we are sick or going to die.

“Although my father and my mother have abandoned me, Yet the Lord will take me up (adopt me as His child).” Psalms 27:10 AMP

  • God can work a miracle in our life. Anxiety comes just before a miracle quite often.


2. Physically

  • Physical Health: affects sleep, hypertension, heart rate increase, ulcers and migraines

  • Mental health: phobias, social anxiety, panic attacks, separation anxiety disorder are a few

  • Aging: gray hair, hair falls out, aged, pains and ache.

  • Self-induced anxiety when dieting, eating the correct foods for our health, etc. can drive us to change behavior to avoid that which we fear. This turns in to fear which is death-producing.

  • Self-created by who you listen to i.e., media, social media.

  • Isolation, self-harming, trauma


3. Spiritually

  • Question God if no answer – creates conflict at times.

  • Not consistent in prayer due to lack of sleep. Become tired so may be open to untruths like crystals that “heal” but really open the door to the enemy.

  • Impatient for an answer so question, “what did I do wrong?”


SOLUTIONS

[Suggestions to help from experts and personal experiences of our prayer team. The key is to be in one accord.]


1. Sitting by someone. Words aren’t always necessary.

2. Go for a walk.

3. Send a text of encouragement.

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 12:25 NKJV

4. Share Scriptures as the Holy Spirit leads.

” I will fully satisfy the needs of those who are weary and fully refresh the souls of those who are faint.” Jeremiah 31:25 NET

5. Challenge them with something in a positive way.

i.e., workouts, if first starting, challenge to move 1-2x a week to bike, go to a gym or facility that offers a variety of classes, swim, movement of some type.

6. Make offers to help – examples…

  • What time can I bring you dinner?

  • Drop off flowers to someone’s door.

  • Door Dash allergy care package from CVS to a friend.

7. The Holy Spirit can help us… praying is one part. in HIS PRESENCE, there’s refreshing. Acts 3:19

Ways of Reducing Anxiety and Regrouping

1 Bible Study group – seek the Lord separate and then together. We come together to be a light for others, fully filled up is powerful.

2 Meditate on the Word. Memorize Scripture.

Anxiety happens when there’s a shortage of the Holy Spirit in your life. – Pamela Thomas

3 Prayer time

4 Worship time

  • When we enter into worship, we open the door to God’s presence.

  • The Great Exchange occurs when we focus on who God is, especially in the midst of a storm. He exchanges our worries and anxieties with His peace during worship. When we verbalize gratitude to God, we set things in motion in the spirit realm. That’s why we decree and declare. Insert one's name or issue in a verse. i.e., “I (name), will be strong and courageous. I will not be afraid of speaking in front of people nor will I be discouraged.”

“You are my hiding place; You, Lord, protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah.” Psalms 32:7 AMP


5 Memorizing God’s Word

6 Church community, connect group, accountability among believers.

7 Anxiety is an eternal conversation with my old man. God gives us opportunities to do an external exchange. We must change our focus to not dwell on the thing that brings anxiety where we may internalize.



3 Areas Where We Can be Challenged with Anxiety… but God

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3 NIV


"trouble" Hebrew means "to be restricted, to be tied up in a narrow, cramped place."


1. When there’s upheaval in nature Psalm 46:1-3 i.e., snowstorm or earthquake

Reaction -> I will not fear, I'll stand fast v 2

David declared, “my heart will Not fear”, when his enemy (Saul’s army) was around.


“When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though an army encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, even in this I am confident.” Psalm 27:2-3 AMP


“God is in the midst of (her/his city), she will not be moved; God will help her when the morning dawns. {"moved" Hebrew - to totter or to shake}” Psalm 46:5 AMP


2. Civil disturbance where a city is under attack v 4-7 i.e., shootings, drugs, trafficking, etc.

Reaction -> God is present - I won't be moved.


3. Post Battle Fatigue v 8-11

Reaction -> stop striving and acknowledge He is God

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” Psalm 46:10


What should we declare?

  • I will focus on who God is in my circumstance.

  • I will not be moved by emotions or circumstances, but on God’s promises are in this situation.

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

2 Thessalonians 3:16 NKJV


  • I will not strive, but place my trust in God as my protection, healer, deliver, restorer…

  • Why? Because I know He is God, my refuge, strength, and help in trouble.


“But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.” But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things.” Luke 10:40-41 (AMP)


What Does God say?

Ask the ONE Thing- dwell in His house, gaze on His beauty, meditate in His temple. Psalm 27:4

He hides me when in trouble. He conceals me, lifts me high on a rock. (stability) Psalm 27:5

God helps bring balance to our life. Psalm 27:11



SOLUTIONS

1) Breathe deep.

2) Worship

3) Journal your concerns – “What the Heck Lord” journal. Leaving the issues there

4) Reach out to someone to share with them in order to see things more clearly with their help

5) Help someone else to gain perspective, seed planting.

6) Listen carefully. Being heard is critical. “I hear you” or “I’m sorry” are powerful words of acknowledgement, lowering anxiety in someone.

7) Love with words.

8) We are to decree and declare God’s Word over our circumstances.


How to Be Proactive to hold off Anxiety:

1. Pre-decide how to respond to a person.


2. Respond quickly to text messages and/or emails.


3. Focus on to-do-lists to be productive and knock things out.


4. For work… meet the boss’ expectations and even exceed them.


5. Heart of gratitude


Idea: first thing in the morning, determine where my thoughts go at the start of the day.


6. Time in the Word


Ideas of where to start: select a Bible study you want to study or someone recommended. There are short devotions online, in your church or can ask friends what they have liked. Find a time where you can complete your quiet time without too many interruptions to be able to focus.


7. Time in prayer


Ideas of how to begin small and build on a prayer life with family, friends, community:

Take 2-3 minutes to thank God for people you are grateful for, your work, good moments of your day. Take 2-3 minutes to ask for God to be present for specific needs of yours or someone needing God to intervene. Take 2-3 minutes to speak a Scripture or more regarding to the needs of another or your own. Take last 2-3 minutes to thank God for hearing you and answering your prayers. This turns in to 8-12 minutes. You can grow any of these moments to increase or pray at another time of the day.


8. Worship time

  • What you can do: listen to worship playlists on Spotify or where you listen to music when driving in vehicle. Your music platform may offer suggestions on songs based on what you listen to if you are just starting. i.e., Bethel music

  • Select a quiet time and space to simply focus on God, who He is, what He has done for you and what He promises to do in and through your life.


The Upside of Stress - God's Strength


STORY: a rubber band around a group of pencils to hold them together. The stress of the rubber band around the pencils kept them together. The boundary keeper protects and unites.


1. God’s strength is immediately available.

2. Trials are not trivial or irrelevant. "They are vehicles of grace that God uses to bring us growth.”

3. It is tailor-made for stress; nothing is bigger than the power of God.

4. His power is not dependent on our help. We don’t have to be self-sufficient. We simply trust Him.

“That you don’t let your minds get quickly rattled or become anxious because of someone else’s so-called “spiritual revelation” or because someone gave you a message or claimed to know of a letter allegedly from us reporting that the day of the Lord has already come!” 2 Thessalonians 2:2 VOICE ”Be anxious for nothing…” Philippians 4:6-7 AMP

Trust God. “I believe what your words say.” Give thanks to God.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1 NLT


5. God can keep us safe... i.e., Holy Spirit prompts us to go a different way for our safety.

6. If there is a medical warning i.e., heart condition or serious emergency health issue

7. Take protection


Example: a tire leak - stop to check it out before it becomes an issue on the road while driving.

- A tornado warning to cause us to take action for our safety.


8. It is temporary; it is not meant to wear us out.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:4-8 ESV

"Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27 GW

“Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I defend? Note- God doesn't give light. He is light. God doesn't provide strength. He is strength.” Psalm 27:1

“Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.” Proverbs 3:21-26 MSG


Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Stress


1. Admit it

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

2. Give it to God


3. Proclaim and declare God’s word, turning it in to expectations of what God will do in our circumstances – a divine exchange.


4. Release it - cast burden on God. He sustains you; He won't let you as shaken.

  • “Cast our Cares” – throw hands up physically and speak His word over you and your circumstances.


5. Stand firm in who God is, refuse to retreat and quit.

  • Recognize that the enemy can’t read your thoughts.


Resources:

Reference: Charles Swindall Three steps forward. Two steps Back 1986

“Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero


Referrals:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

240-485-1001


The National Alliance on Mental Illness

800-950-6264 or text NAMI to 741741


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

888-333-2377


The Suicide Prevention Lifeline

800-273-8255


Veterans Crisis Line

800- 272-8255 or text 838255



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