Rejoice in the Lord Always.
That’s the command given in Philippians 4.
Always? Really? Is that even possible?
That’s the question I have asked for the past 3 years as my family has endured pain and fear. I’ve done my fair share of clinging to anxiety when I should have been clinging to the Cross.
According to the Apostle Paul, it is possible to rejoice in the Lord always.
I invite you now to join me on a 5 week journey of discovering how to rejoice in the Lord no matter the circumstance. We will be diving into Max Lucado’s book Anxious for Nothing. During this time of uncertainty in our world, as COVID-19 unleashes a global pandemic, fear and anxiety are running rampant. Max Lucado is offering a free bible study . My prayer is that you will join me and that this study will help all of us fully trust in the Lord not only at this time, but always.
To say my life has been difficult the past couple years would be an understatement. My anxiety levels hit an all time high in 2018. Right before Christmas 2017, we experienced a house fire that made us homeless for a couple weeks. Homeless in the sense that we were unable to stay in our own home. Neighbors graciously took us in for a couple weeks and then we went to stay at my parents home 1000 miles away from our torched house. All normalcy in our life went right out the window. We were blessed to come back to a rental home where we stayed as our house was completely renovated and remodeled. While dealing with insurance and the home repair, our then 6 year old began struggling with anxiety. He became fearful and anxious about going to bed. My own dealing with anxiety is one thing, but to watch your child struggle with it as well will break any momma’s heart. If you haven’t experienced play therapy for kids before, let me tell you, it is life changing.
In April 2018, we were blessed with the birth of our third baby! Talk about adding more changes into our life. But this sweet baby was hospitalized at 3 weeks with a life threatening infection. If ever there was a time for anxiety to be roaring its ugly head, it was then. How I stayed sane during that time is because of the power of prayer. God used those mighty prayer warriors to see us through the scariest time of our life. I am happy to say she is nearly 2 and really embracing her toddlerness. “No, I not!” happens to be her favorite phrase. Please pray for me, yall. She continues to have health issues related to that experience, but she is here and alive and well…and sassy.
In August 2018, while sitting in traffic, a semi hit my vehicle. Yet another anxiety filled moment in my life. Little did I know the lasting results it would have. My girls and I walked away from that accident, praise be to God! But I had to have a chondroplasty and femorplasty in my hip just a few short months ago. I am still recovering and now all of my care has been suspended due to COVID-19. Once again, I find myself at an all time high of anxiety.
So for those that have been long time subscribers here, you now know why I have been MIA. Thank you for sticking around despite my disappearance! For those that are new here, welcome! The Lord has put it on my heart to return to blogging. Writing is therapeutic for me. So here I am, before you with words, in all my anxiety ridden glory.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 undesrtanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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 these things. Philippians 4: 4-8
Max Lucado tells us that anxiety is not a sin. It is an emotion. As Christians, we feel like we should be able to overcome anxiety with prayer. When we can’t, we struggle with guilt. I admit that for the longest time, I was that person. A dear friend and doctor that I worked with in a small town hospital once looked at me and said “You are not a bad Christian. You’re chemically imbalanced. Going on an anti-depressant doesn’t make you a terrible Christian. In fact, it will clear your mind and allow you to find God again.” Those words changed my life. I’ve been on an anti-depressant for 8 years now and I will never go off. I was stuck in a prison of anxiety and God used medication to set me free. It wasn’t an overnight fix and clearly, I still struggle. With everything that is going on in the world right now, my anxiety is once again exploding.
Do you find yourself in the same place?
When we experience anxiety, we try to numb it, minimize it, bury it, punish it, avoid it, redirect it by lashing out; we try to be perfect and become agonizingly hard on ourselves when we don’t meet out of reach standards (*raises hand*); or sometimes we embody it and just decide “this is who I am.”
Anxiety is often the consequence of perceived chaos. Perpetual anxiety is not what God intended for us. -Max Lucado
How do we, as Christians, overcome anxiety?
Max suggest a couple things to start off with:
- STABALIZE YOUR FAITH- To stabilize our faith, we must realize that our faith is not based on just a feeling. It is a “deeply rooted confidence in God.” We must learn to “view bad news through the lens of God’s will.”
- RELENQUISH THE CONTROL- Oh man, this recovering perfectionist struggles with this on a deep level. Trust God’s sovereignty. We must learn to trust in God’s perfect timing and His perfect control.
- TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL IF THE STRUGGLE SEEMS UNBEARABLE- I want to say it loud and clear. It is OK to talk to a therapist. It is OK to take anti-depressants. It is OK to see a psychiatrist. Satan lies to us and embeds in our brains that we are not good enough because we can’t pray and make the anxiety simply go away. SATAN LIES. In the Christian culture, we need to redefine what mental health looks like for a christian. For some of us (myself included), it took prescription medication. For others it may not. Professionals can help you figure out what is best for you. (ok…I’ll get off my soapbox now.)
Belief always precedes behaviors. -Max Lucado
May I suggest that you begin stabilizing your faith by surrounding yourself with God’s words and truly believing in His words? I have created a free printable for you. Print it, cut it out and place it in places you will see it. May it be a reminder that in this time of high anxiety and fear of the unknown, that God already knows. He sees the big picture while we see the moment.
Let’s take the first steps together to surrender our anxiety to Him.
For discussion, please comment below and share your thoughts:
What are your anxiety triggers?
How do you cope with anxiety?
How can you, during this global crisis, stabilize your faith?