This is the second in a series of three blog posts on ‘Managing Your Emotions’. The material covered is a brief summary of some of Dr. Neil T. Anderson’s teaching in his immensely helpful, practical book ‘Victory Over the Darkness: Realize the Power of Your Identity in Christ’ (Gospel Light Publications).
How do we deal with this most crippling of emotions, which usually attacks us when we are at our most vulnerable, and can lead us into seasons of depression.
Anxiety is not a new phenomenon. Even a brief literature survey on anxiety reveals that anxiety is an emotion (and sometimes a condition) as old as humanity itself.
So, why haven’t we beaten it yet?
One reason for the resilience of anxiety is that life is so painfully uncertain. For example, none of us knows when (or how!) we are going to die. This makes most of us feel anxious, because it is an uncertainty which lies way out of our control.
However, even those things which we can control – such as our life goals – are hard to be totally certain about. Not many of us could honestly tell the Spice Girls what we really, really want. We’re just not that sure, so once again, we feel anxious!
So, what can we do with our anxiety?
Jesus knows… “31 …I tell you, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
[Matthew 6.31-34, NIV]
Jesus tells us to focus our attention on more certain things – on God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. Those of us who do this will enjoy more of His peace.
However, we often focus our attention on less certain things – like getting what we want, in the here and now. Those of us who do this will struggle more with anxiety.
What we focus on, expands.
Of course, there is so much more that could be said about how to deal with anxiety, but in all our learning, we must be careful not to become wiser than Jesus. Faithfully applying His teaching about anxiety is an excellent remedy for any troubled soul.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord Himself is the Rock eternal.”
[Isaiah 26.3-4, NIV]