Every month, I disciple a friend who’s a new Christian. Last month, she had some questions about how she should handle anxiety in the context of her new faith.

I shared two methods that I found most useful when going through an extremely stressful time in my own life. Of course, everyone experiences anxiety differently, and the most successful methods will vary depending on personality type, but I thought I would share a summary of our session here in case it would be helpful to someone else.


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Anxiety is, at its root, fear.

We often tack other names onto it: worry, stress, anxiety, nerves, and so on. But they are just window dressing. What we’re talking about is fear.

Fear is not a a passive, shrinking, flinching thing. We may cower in its presence, but fear is a monster. It can make us do things that we never thought we would do. It can make us completely unaware of the sinful depths to which we’re sinking, and it can turn us into people who destroy other people.

It’s like a spider web. We, like flies, get trapped in it. The more we struggle, the more tightly we’re ensnared. Our minds spool around fear-filled issues, rehashing, rehearsing, relapsing into the tar pit that only seems to suck us deeper.

Anxiety is fear.

And, as my pastor of ten years ago loved to say, “Fear is faith in the enemy.” [1]

When I first heard this phrase, it shone a little beam of clarity into my heart.

That’s right! I thought. There is no continuum of fear vs. faith. There’s only a continuum of whom I have my faith in: God or Satan.

With that, the question changes. It’s no longer: “How do I become less fearful?”

Now it’s: “Who are you going to put your faith in? God? Or Satan?”

And the answer becomes much easier.

Making the decision to trust in God instead of the enemy is the first step towards liberation. Feel free to declare your trust in God, aloud, as many times as you need. There is nothing silly about proclaiming your faith in Him.

Sometimes, fear is like a never-ending tunnel. We keep travelling, keep seeing the same lampposts and railings and walls. Nothing ever seems to change.

The best way to exit the tunnel is simply to stop. Stop travelling. Stop moving. Look around.

At times, we convince ourselves that we have to keep pushing through our fear. We've developed “tunnel vision” in the truest sense of the word. We think we have to reach the light at the end of the tunnel before escaping. But if we stop moving and look around, we see there are emergency exits liberally scattered all along the way.

So how do we stop? How do we find those an emergency exit and get out?

The answer is: meditation. Find a Bible verse (perhaps one that talks about fear) and meditate on it. Take it just two or three words at a time, and let God’s Word sink into your spirit. Let it slow you down. Let it change you.

The Bible promises, “my word that goes out from my mouth...will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” [2]

Meditating on Bible verses is the best way to slow down our thoughts and allow the Holy Spirit to heal and restore us.

Below, I’ve included a 10-minute meditation exercise. I find audio guided meditation to be the most helpful, so that’s what I’ve done for you here. If you would concentrate better with a written version, please contact me and I’ll send you a transcript.

Find a comfortable spot where you won't be interrupted. This will be an exercise meditating on Psalm 46:10, just two words at a time. Try concentrating on each pair of words until your emotions change from an overwhelming tsunami to little waves, lapping at a shore.

Click here to begin.




NOTES

[1] Terry Ciona, various sermons, 2006-2010.

[2] Isaiah 55:11, NIV.



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