Few “mountains” we will encounter in life do more to separate us from the “blessed” life than anxiety. Someone has described worry as a “think stream trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”
Three times in His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His audience, “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25, 31, 34). The apostle Paul picked up this theme when he encouraged believers, “Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6). Of course, that’s easier said than done!
But for now, let’s get a handle on these two words: worry and anxious.
The Greek word Jesus used for “worry” is merimno. The word means “to be (unduly) concerned”—an excessive concern about things, often about things that are out of our control.
In Latin, the Greek is translated anixus, from where we get our word anxious. And in German, the word is wurgen, from which we get our word worry. The idea behind both of these translations is choking or strangling. Jesus used a similar word in Mark 4:7—sumpnigo—when He told the parable of the farmer sowing his seed on various soils. The seed that fell among thorns was choked out, Jesus said, “and it yielded no crop” (v. 7).
If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: the basis of all worry is “calculating without God.” We face a challenge in our work, with our health, our children, or our finances, and we begin trying to figure out how to solve the problem and realize we can’t solve the problem and are paralyzed with anxiety. Our problem is leaving God out of the equation, forgetting we have a Creator who breathed life into us, loves us, sent His son to die for us, and wants to spend eternity with us.
Matthew 6:33-34 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Jesus’s words ought to be enough to help us stop worrying. But some of us need additional encouragement. If that’s you, I have some other practical steps you can take that will help you along the path from anxiety to peace.
Repent of any known sin in your life. (1 John 1:9)
- Remove unnecessary fear. (Proverbs 26:13)
Many of us feel anxious about things we know we should be doing but aren’t. Unfortunately, you cannot postpone your anxiety. The more you procrastinate, the longer you will feel anxious.
Here are three words that will help you remove much of the anxiety in your life: do it now! Confront any unnecessary anxiety by dealing with it realistically. You’ll find that fear is easily dissipated when confronted with the truth.
- Remember God’s past faithfulness. (Psalm 3:1-6)
To help you remember God’s past faithfulness, I suggest you keep a prayer journal. Write down your requests, making sure to date them, and then record God’s answer to each one. This is something I have done for years. In a notebook, I divide each page into two columns: “My Requests” and “God’s Answers.”
Through the years, I’ve recorded my requests to God (and use them as a guide for my prayers). When God answers that request with a “yes” or “no,” I record it under “God’s Answers.” Occasionally, when I’m discouraged, I flip through my journal and the cloud dissipates as I remember God’s supernatural intervention in my life. And I’m equally encouraged when I read some of the “no” answers to my prayers and see how God had a better plan for my life than I could’ve ever imagined.
- Remain in contact with God. (Philippians 4:6-9)
We are talking a lot about vaccines these days. Here is a three-dose vaccine that will protect you against anxiety, found in Philippians 4:6–9.
- Pray persistently (Philippians 4:6-7)
First, if we want to get rid of anxiety, we must pray persistently.
- Think truthfully (Philippians 4:8)
Second, to drive anxiety from our lives, we must think truthfully. If you want to experience the peace of God, think on the things of God. The best way to do that is to spend time in the Word of God. And when you do, you just might run across this promise: “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
- Live obediently (Philippians 4:9)
Third, to remove the poison of anxiety, we must conduct ourselves consistently. When our conduct isn’t consistent with what we know to be true, the result is fear.
God may or may not deliver you out of your circumstances, but He promises to give you supernatural peace of mind in the midst of those circumstances.
“There may be greater sins than worry,” theologian William Barclay wrote, “but very certainly there is no more disabling sin.” The good news is you don’t have to be disabled any longer. God has given you everything you need to conquer the mountain of anxiety that is separating you from the blessed life.