Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Have you ever spent sleepless nights deeply troubled, mentally distressed, greatly worried, in anguish, scared, or fearful of some danger, misfortune, or other unpleasant circumstances that are happening (or about to happen) to you? Many of us have given in to anxiety, at one time or another. Being anxious is synonymous with being fearful, fidgety, nervous, restless, uptight, and other words that imply having a lack of peace. Being anxious is not the same as being truly concerned for the well-being of others or caring for others. The Lord is concerned for His children’s welfare (Exodus 3:7; 4:31), and He invites us to give Him all your worries and anxieties because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He Himself is our true peace (Ephesians 2:14).
A few years ago, I was (Abes) going through some stressful circumstance, and soon excessive worry and anxiety set in. I began to lose my appetite and my could hardly sleep. My problem seemed insurmountable and I felt hopeless. When I read from the Bible that I should “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34), I was relieved. Then a friend told me that statistics have proved that over 90% of the things one worries about actually never happen! While I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that number, I certainly can testify that looking back I realize that spending too much time worrying was a poor investment since most of the fears never materialized. God’s grace is always sufficient to help us overcome the most worrisome situations! (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Praying in Times of Distress Leads to Peace and Victory
The Bible tells us that Satan comes “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), and one of the things he steals is our peace. By disobeying the Lord’s commands (not diligently studying and obeying the Word of God), we automatically choose to serve the other master – Satan – and invite curses and trouble to ourselves, which include perpetual anxiety and fear (Deuteronomy 28:58-62; 65-66). Ultimately, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23; Matthew 13:42; 50). The Bible also clearly warns us that we cannot serve two masters. We have to choose whom to serve – either serve the One Triune God or other gods (Joshua 24:15; Matthew 6:24).
Daily, we are all presented with “things” that can cause worry, anxiety, and distress. The airwaves and other media outlets are inundated with stories that mostly highlight and magnify the works of Satan – murders and violence, deceptions and lies, gossip and slander, sexual sins and salacious materials, scandals, and other immoral acts (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 12:14; Revelation 22:15). How often have you seen, read, or heard the good news of deliverance through the Lord Jesus Christ being magnified in the mainstream media? There’s hardly any mention! However, we are not called to live in fear or be controlled by the difficult circumstances we may experience; we are called to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Throughout the Bible, we read of children of God who were faced with severe and distressful situations, including being mistreated, persecuted, unfairly imprisoned, and even killed. We can learn from their exemplary responses of faith so that we don’t succumb to worry and fear as most people do, but trust in God and submit to His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
- Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were faced with the deadly options to either bow down to an idol or be thrown into a blazing, fiery furnace. Instead of succumbing to fear and anxiety, they chose to disobey the wicked decree and obey the Lord, confidently expressing their faith in God and in His power to save them as He wills. The Lord indeed mightily rescued them, which not only resulted in praise and honor to Him, but they were rewarded as well (Daniel 3:13-30).
- When Daniel learned that a decree had been passed that people should pray only to King Darius for 30 days or be thrown into the lions’ den, he did not succumb to worry. Instead, asked God for help; he“prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:6-10). He still faced the consequences for disobeying the decree and was thrown into the lions’ den. However, the Lord rescued him, and the evil that his enemies intended for him fell on them and their families instead (Daniel 6:21-24). Again, God received the glory and honor, and his servant Daniel prospered (Daniel 6:26-28).
- When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, with his great army threatened Jerusalem and boasted against the Lord(2 Kings 18:17-37; 19:9-13), King Hezekiah and his officials didn’t just go home and become anxious and restless. Instead, they humbled themselves before God – they tore their clothes, put on sackcloth, and went into the temple of the Lord. It was described as “a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them” (2 Kings 19:3-4 NIV). As they sought God’s help through prayer, the Lord, through Prophet Isaiah, encouraged them not to worry (2 Kings 19:5-7). Hezekiah faithfully prayed to the Lord, presenting to the Lord the threatening words of King Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:14-19). The Lord responded, and was faithful to deliver His people; He powerfully answered by sending an angel who put to death 185,000 soldiers in the Assyrian camp, causing King Sennacherib to give up his wicked intentions and withdraw the remaining troops; he was thereafter killed with the sword (2 Kings 19:25-37).
- When King Jehoshaphat of Judah was surrounded by a vast enemy army, he was alarmed, knowing that his nation faced a major catastrophe; he was powerless to face the enemy without God’s help (2 Chronicles 20:1-4). Without dwelling too much on fear, he“set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4). As the king prayed (2 Chronicles 20:5-12), his entire nation stood before the Lord “with their little ones, their wives, and their children” (2 Chronicles 20:13). The Lord heard their prayers and promised to fight the battle on their behalf, twice encouraging the people “not to be afraid or be dismayed” (2 Chronicles 20:14-17). The people of Judah then courageously marched into the battlefield, with the musicians and worshippers ahead of the army, singing and praising the Lord! The Lord kept His promise and fought for them (2 Chronicles 20:14-17; 20-24).
- In the New Testament, after Stephen had testified about Jesus Christ to the priests, they stoned him. Even while being stoned to death, he did not worry but followed Christ’s example and prayed for them, saying“Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7: 59-60). Paul, one of Stephen’s persecutors, later became a staunch follower of Christ and he himself faced many troubles, hardships, and distresses, including riots, beatings, and imprisonment, but he didn’t give in to worry or fear (2 Corinthians 11:23-33).
- The Lord Jesus Christ is our best example. Throughout His ministry on earth, He faced all kinds of persecution, rejection, and abuse. In the garden of Gethsemane, while His soul was“overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”, He overcame by praying, praying, and praying (Matthew 26:36-46). He also prayed while He hung crucified on the cross, till He breathed His last breath (Luke 23:34; 46).
Many of us will face some big challenges, and we learn from the examples above that God is able and willing to help us if we trust in Him (Numbers 11:23; 14:6-8). Sometimes we may lose our peace and become anxious over small things. For example, you may become anxious if someone didn’t respond to your phone call or message within the timeframe you expect. You may also become anxious if you are not prepared for an event such as a class or exam. In such circumstances, we should make every effort to have a heart of gratitude so that we may continue to exude good fruit.
If we follow the Lord’s example, whether in our small distresses or big ones, we will have victory, peace, and joy. We are also encouraged to remain faithful until the end and look to God even when faced with death (Philippians 2:8; Revelation 2:10).
Do Not Worry About Necessities and Wants
As Christians, the Lord taught us through His Word not to be worried or anxious about our lives, what we will wear, what we will eat, what we will drink, about our bodies (Matthew 6:25). Unbelievers and people in the world worry about these things, but the Lord assures us that the Father knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8; 32). Why are you worried about someone else’s life when you are not even supposed to worry about your own? Being worried does not bring any solutions or answers (Matthew 6:27), but rather shows a lack of faith, which leads to missed opportunities to see God’s glory and experience the joy of trusting in Him. Without faith, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).
Also, many brethren are worried about the future – future disasters, the future of the economy, their job status, prophecies of “imminent” disasters, political uncertainties, etc. A lot of this is fueled from watching too many negative news stories and listening to false prophesies on the Internet. This has caused people to quit school, quit their jobs, relocate to certain areas, avoid going to other places, delay or rush into marriage, and live in fear. We know that many well-meaning Christians have gone through similar struggles and have experienced many situations where they are worried about how something is going to turn out. All that is needed is to have faith, prayer, and gratitude (Philippians 4:6-7). Even if you have read a prophesy or report that an earthquake or certain disaster is coming your way, pray for God’s protection and guidance wherever you live, and seek refuge in Him (Psalm 91; 121). When you trust in God, things usually will turn out well (Romans 8:28). We have also learned from experience that it helps to cover these potential future disasters in prayer beforehand. That way when a storm or disaster hits, you have already prayed a long time and it’s easier to just enjoy each day by faith. The Lord commanded us, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). Furthermore, spending more time on social media, watching television, reading news, chatting online, talking on the phone, reading other books, etc., yet claiming to have no time to seek the Lord, results in not knowing what God requires of us, hence sinning against Him. It also yields anxious mind and heart and the Lord said “…take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 34:36). Additionally, instead of being discouraged about what worldly things we lack, we should take comfort in the Lord’s words, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Fellow believers in Christ, with so much bad news everywhere, every day, it is easy to yield to worry, anxiety and fear. Let us not forget that even though in this world we may have trouble, our Savior has overcome the world, and in Him we have peace (John 16:33). Let us, reflect and meditate only on “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV).
Do Not Be Anxious About Serving God
When most brethren go out to share the gospel for the first time, it is exciting but most are nervous, worried about how they are going to be rejected, what people are going to say, and even what they themselves are going to say. Whether it is witnessing, ministering to a relative, or encouraging a co-worker, we are not to worry about what we should speak because the Holy Spirit will help us (Matthew 10:19; Mark 13:11; Luke12:11). It is very helpful before evangelizing or ministering to others to pray even for a few minutes then go by faith. With the Lord Jesus Christ’s training through His Word, it becomes easier and more enjoyable. Even sharing the Lord’s suffering of persecution, rejection, or being kicked out becomes bearable (2 Timothy 1:8). As an encouragement, He has promised through His word that if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before the angels of God. But if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the angels of God (Luke 12:8). Therefore, let us “endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).
The Dangers of Being Anxious
While a little worry every now and then is part of life, excessive worrying can negatively affect you physically, mentally, emotionally, and even physiologically. We have seen people become physically ill as a result of excessive worrying, and others who gave into drinking alcohol and making other bad decisions that further exacerbated their problems. As a matter of fact, when being anxious becomes a habit (chronic), it is classified as a “mental health disorder”, and this can wreak havoc on your life. Satan uses such anxiety to steal your joy and take away all hope from you, and this can lead to the following:
- Isolating yourself and not wanting to leave the house (social withdrawal)
- Breakdown of marriage and relationships with others
- Negative changes in personality
- Paranoia – extreme, irrational fear of situations, things, or people
- Getting in trouble at work or at school
- Feeling hopeless and entertaining suicidal thoughts
- Mood swings and feeling depressed
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Sleeplessness, which causes other problems
- Eventually, the bad decisions you make may lead you to the grave.
A Few Testimonies
A few weeks ago, I (Janet) was getting anxious about a piano class for our children. I was worried that they had not spent sufficient time to practice well enough, and was tempted to send a message to the piano teacher requesting more time or fewer songs to practice going forward. I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to keep praying and trust the Lord, instead of sending the message. On the day of the lessons, I was also anxious to make it to class on time. Some last-minute things came up as we were getting ready to leave, and this led me to rush the children out of the house and raise my voice a bit. I tried my best not to speed while driving, and by God’s grace, we were about five minutes early! We waited patiently outside the door of the piano class, only to learn about fifteen minutes later that the teacher was out of town and the class had been canceled! Since the class was canceled, the children had an extra week in which they perfected their skills playing the songs, and they even went ahead to learn additional songs ahead of their next assignment. The following week, they performed very well and the teacher was blessed by their initiative. As for me, this was a great reminder to be calm and repent from being anxious and to just pray and be thankful so that that the good fruit of peace, love, and patience may abound (Philippians 4:6-7).
A few years ago, we were in a situation where we were worried about what decision to make regarding our children’s education. Because they missed the cut-off due to their dates of birth, we could not enroll them in public school and were uncomfortable holding them back by a year. Our remaining options were to either homeschool them or send them to private school. Homeschooling was intimidating to us since we had not had personal experience with it and homeschooling four young children at the same time seemed impossible. We also did not have support from other family members. In addition, we found private schools to be very expensive, even for enrolling one child. The clock was ticking to make the decision, and soon we began to get worried. We had disagreements, but the Lord encouraged us to have faith and pray. We finally decided to go by faith and chose to trust the Lord to homeschool our children, and the results have been phenomenal. Praise be to God!
A few years ago, we wanted to visit our relatives overseas and were anxious because of incidents of terrorism in the country, as well as alarming “prophecies” proclaiming disaster on the country. After seeking counsel from the Lord by faith and prayer, we had peace to travel. Since that time we have gone back twice, and each time we daily and persistently pray for whatever we need about the trip and the Lord answers our prayers. In these journeys, we had joy, happiness, and also returned without a single incident, praise be to God!
Through persistent prayer, we resist the devil and the spirit of anxiety and it flees (James 4:7). Many other times, we have noticed that the things we were anxious about did not materialize, so all that worrying was a waste! Being anxious or worrying does not solve a problem, but taking the extra step to faithfully pray and commit that situation to the Lord by faith will produce results.
Finally, we want to close with these Scriptures:
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm 55:22).
Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? (Isaiah 51:12)
Have you been allowing yourself to be anxious and worried? Have you been neglecting to cast your cares on the Lord through prayer, petition, and thanksgiving? If so, please repent. If you would like to jump-start your relationship with the Lord, you may sincerely pray this Prayer of Salvation. For any questions or comments about this article please contact us.
Grace and Peace to You!
Abes and Janet.