Dr. Randy Carlson
I have read Paul’s words, “Be anxious for nothing” many times (Philippians 4:6). That means when something happens that we didn’t expect in our health, we’re not to be anxious about it. When there’s been a reversal in a relationship, we’re not to be anxious about it.
That’s a troubling verse, because the reality is, researchers report 40 percent of Americans say they have more anxiety today than they did a year ago. Some people wrestle with unexpected panic attacks, heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shaking, shortness of breath, feelings of impending doom and feelings of being out of control. When I was in my thirties, out of the blue, I started having panic attacks. I didn’t have symptoms when I was working. It occurred when I tried to rest my mind.
As Christians, we need to make sure we are practicing these six steps to resting an anxious mind, but you may also need to seek professional help. Don’t feel like you are less spiritual than you ought to be. Some of the great giants of scripture wrestled with mental illness issues. We live in a fallen world, a broken world and the stresses that we face today are very real.
We should all be practicing these six steps in our lives, if we have anxiety or not.
- Let it go.
1Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Casting literally means to throw it or to drop it. It means to simply take whatever it is you’re carrying and leave it.
A good picture of this is going into the grocery store. The other day, I was there to pick up some things for home, and I didn’t get a shopping cart. I thought, I’m just getting a few things. I got milk, eggs and paper towels – just walking along picking up things, and I realize I really needed a cart. If you’ve ever done that, you’ve got all this stuff in your arms and you begin to feel the tension in your muscles as you’re trying to hang onto it. You get to the conveyer belt and release it all, and that tension in your arms immediately releases.
That’s what happens to us with the worries and anxieties in our life. When we finally drop it, it’s no longer our responsibility. The key is to know the difference between the things we should drop and the things we need to hang onto. So, the first step is to let it go.
- Activate your spiritual life.
Paul gives us the solution in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t be anxious for anything, but in everything” – in your finances, health, relationship, work – “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Paul says these three things are the way to treat feelings of anxiety in your life.
Something happens when we pray to God and say, “Father, I am really anxious about this.” And use the word, anxious. Take it to the Lord on a regular basis and admit to Him “I just can’t handle this myself. I need you.” Something happens when we pray that’s not only spiritual, but also psychological and emotional, as well. Supplication means I need you. It’s asking boldly, “God, would you please take this anxiety I’m feeling from me.” And Paul says, “Do this in a thankful heart.”
- Just breathe.
If you see a professional about anxiety, one of the things they are going to teach you is to breathe. Breathing exercises are a part of good health, reducing anxiety and blood pressure. When people wrestle with great levels of anxiety, we breathe shallower. We’re not breathing as deeply as we should. There’s something relaxing about being able to breathe deeply when we’re feeling anxiety.
This is something I wrestle with in my life. I’m a high control person. I like to know what’s going on. This message is to help me, and I believe it will help you as we learn these things together.
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