Do you find yourself at a loss for how to overcome for anxiety filled times?
Far too many times I’ve let anxiety direct my thoughts and my actions. I’ve tossed and turned at night, fearing the what-ifs and struggling to surrender this fear to the Lord.
Anxiety tends to grip our minds in this way and oftentimes we let it. We are unaware of the strategies and tools we are given to overcome for anxiety filled times and experience the peace Jesus died to give us.
I spent years unaware that I was called to take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. Instead my thoughts ran wild, filled with fears and lies that Satan had deeply webbed within my mind.
I remember one night specifically when anxiety threatened to bury me deep within the pit of my despair and I cried out to God. I boldly asked God to cast Satan out of my mind. And yet, as I lay there, the anxiety did not diminish. In fact, it only grew stronger, causing me to question God.
I spent months after that tossing back and forth between anxiety, desperation and doubt. Why wasn’t God answering my prayers? Why wasn’t He delivering me from Satan’s attacks?
Eventually, my anxiety faded, but the answers to these questions came only years later.
My mind and my thoughts were filled with lies.
And I constantly entertained these lies. There was immense brokenness in my life that I needed healing from. But as I sat and asked for healing, I did not bother to try and do the very things God asked of me in order to find that healing.
God calls us to renew our minds, to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. He provides us a step by step strategy to fight anxiety and to find peace. And I had yet to truly understand all of this. The brokenness still reigned in my life and in my heart.
I praise God that He did deliver me, although it did not look like I had envisioned. Instead of a snap-of-the-fingers deliverance, God did a work of sanctification in me. And this process is not easy and it oftentimes is not pleasant.
But as God works to sanctify your heart and mind, you will begin to find healing, freedom, hope and peace.
Here are some powerful strategies that helped me along in this sanctification process and can help you to overcome for anxiety filled times.
A Call to Focus on What is Good
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. -Proverbs 23:7
Where we let our minds and hearts focus is going to determine a lot of our reactions and our attitudes.
You can probably relate with me, but when I spend an entire afternoon worrying and stressing about something, I find myself anxious and less at peace.
I always remember back to when I did gymnastics as a kid. We were told that as we walk the balance beam, we have to keep our eyes focused straight on the beam ahead. Not the space below us, where we stood, and not off to the side. If we did not focus straight ahead, we would lose our balance.
I relate this to my life often. When I keep my focus on things that are either a part of my current circumstances or worries off to the side, my heart gets off balance. But when I focus straight ahead, on Christ, I find peace and strength to walk through each moment.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. -Philippians 4:8-9
This is a step-by-step guide to where our thoughts should rest. When you find your thoughts drifting to anxiety or worry, redirect them to what is good, right and pure. Focus on Christ and His consuming love and grace and God promises that His peace will be with us.
A Call to Renew Our Mind
You may have heard the analogy that goes like this: when you are told not to think of a pink elephant, what comes to mind? A pink elephant!
It is so important to renew our minds by directing our focus towards God. When we focus on trying to stop thinking about our anxiety or our worries, our focus stays there.
When I was in that dark time of anxiety overpowering my thoughts, I remember literally repeating to myself, “Don’t think about __” over and over. And yet, as I did this, my thoughts stayed right there.
We are called to renew our minds. And in order to do this, we must shift our focus to Scripture and to God’s promises.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2
The next time you find yourself focusing on your worries and anxiety, stop your thoughts and instead replace them with Scripture. Repeat and meditate on this Scripture, memorize it if you need. And let it fill you with peace and hope.
Take each thought captive and surrender it to Christ.
When we do this, we are being obedient to the call that God has given us.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. -2 Corinthians 10:5
Anything that enters our mind and heart that is not of God needs to be taken captive and made obedient to Christ.
As you do this, you will find that God’s peace begins to fill your anxious moments.
Overcome for Anxiety Filled Times through Obedience
As you focus on what is good, take your thoughts captive and replace anxious thoughts with Scripture, you are answering God’s call to obedience.
When I began to do this these, I saw God do a major healing work within me. It wasn’t until my heart was positioned in this way that I could truly surrender and find restoration in these broken areas of my life.
I’m not perfect, I still have anxiety often. But it is not crippling. And it does not drive me away from God in hopeless despair. I have learned that no matter how difficult a moment may be, God is working in me, renewing and restoring me.
And He will do the same for you.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. -James 4:7
As you submit to God and follow His call in your thought life, Satan will flee. As you do these things, the God of peace will be with you.
I’d love for you to share with me: What Scriptures help to bring you peace in times of anxiety?
About the Author:
Nicole Kauffman is a wife, blogger and passionate follower of Christ. Her blog, Courage. Hope. Love. was founded to encourage, inspire and guide Christians to deeper hope and joy in the Lord. Nicole lives in Pennsylvania with her God-seeking husband and family. She is an aspiring author who loves to grow relationships, mentor, and explore the beauty of God’s creation all around. She’s hoping you will join her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.