“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your lifespan?” – Luke 12:25

As I sit here and write this, I can’t help but think about what tomorrow will bring. What new adventures will it lay at my feet? What trials or tribulations will I go through in the days ahead? Should I worry about those uncertain times? Should I plan for the worst?

Many of us struggle with these sort of thoughts. We worry about what may or may not happen. Some of our fears are justifiable while others would be considered silly or nonsense outside of the realm of our minds. But, just because a fear may be real or a figment of our imagination doesn’t reduce the “realness” of it in our lives. That silly fear still feels painful, still grasps ahold of your heart and thoughts, it still controls you. So, how do we overcome a mind of battling thoughts that fight for control of our focus?

We defeat anxiety, fear, regret, doubt, and shame by redirecting our attention on what truly  matters. Any form of fear or anxiety only shows you what you’ve placed as the highest priority or value in your life. If you’re worried about having enough money, then you’ve exalted money as your god. If you’re worried if you’ll have enough food or clothing to provide for your family, then you’ve placed your family or the idea of things as their sustenance above anything else. This could go on and on. Are you worried about a relationship? Are you worried about your health? Are you worried about that test, or if your coffee will be made right this time? Maybe you’re hoping your car will start, or that traffic won’t be as bad today. (Sorry, traffic is bad every day!) Just fill in the blank with what’s causing you stress and anxiety.

It doesn’t have to be something huge to affect us negatively. Small things usually are the most dangerous because they sneak up on us and convince us that they aren’t the problem. After all, it’s small, right? But we believe it anyway. We tell ourselves that this little nuisance here, this little problem here, that small gesture or slip of the tongue, this thought, that action all are tiny and insignificant. But remember, the battle we wage is not against flesh and bone, but against principalities of darkness in the spirit realm. Our fight is with the unseen (Ephesians 6:12). And where is the devil’s playground? Our thoughts. He will trick us into believing the lies or half-truths he has expertly crafted and placed into our lives. His ultimate goal is to make us disillusioned and to alter our focus and our path. He wants to derail us from our blessings and the path God has set before us. He wants to cause us harm and pain. He wants to control us through our thoughts and he does this by manipulating us through fear and anxiety.

But the way to beat a giant is to slay it with truth. And the way we slay satan and his evil schemes is by giving it over to God. Jesus Christ is the only one who has the power and authority to conquer the darkness in our world, in our thoughts, and in our hearts that spew forth from the devil’s tongue and his adversaries. God has to but speak and they must flee. So if it’s that easy to conquer the fear or worry that’s controlling us, why don’t we do it? Why don’t we trust God and lean on Him for understanding and guidance? Why is it so difficult?

The truth: we don’t trust Him. We don’t believe that He is a good God and that He has our best interests at hand. We want to believe, but satan has convinced us of the greatest lie of all: that we can control what can’t be controlled, and that if we give up this false idea of control that we’ll lose it. (How can you lose control when you don’t have control to begin with?) We fear trusting God completely because we don’t want to give up the lack of control that we think we can control. It’s a play on our mind and thoughts. We desperately want to be in control but know deep down that we can’t, and this is what causes us the most stress. So much so, that we fight until death to hold onto it. But, have you ever stopped and wondered at the moments you were the happiest? And you might say, “I’ve never been happy. My whole life has been a pit of darkness and suffering. I’ve never known joy or peace.”

I know how you feel. I, too, once felt that way. I believed it wholeheartedly actually, and even went so far as to proclaim out loud that God did not exist, did not have my best interests in mind, doubted His love and faithfulness to me, and that He didn’t care about me. I remember screaming out to God in my bedroom, challenging Him. (I was a fool once and often slip into foolish thoughts, words, or actions.) Trust me when I tell you, I was in a dark place in my life. The depression was so heavy on my heart that it leaked from my pores like a leaky faucet. My anger and bitterness permeated everything in my life. I’m embarrassed to think what my friends or family had to go through while I wallowed in my own self-pity and victimization. But, eventually, and only through God’s grace and mercy, I finally broke free of that dark stain on my life. Satan had convinced me I was a nobody, that no one would or could love me, that everyone just used me, that God didn’t care about me, that I would die alone. And, I believed him for a long time.

So, what set me straight? What enabled me to break free of that seductive lie that caused me so much suffering and heartache? How did I do it? Simple—I didn’t. GOD saved me and pulled me free of that wreckage and pain. He showered me with His love and His goodness. So much so, that it was too much! My emotions couldn’t contain such beauty, peace, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I couldn’t handle the pure acceptance that God offered me. And, for what? What had I done to deserve such kindness and love? What had I sacrificed? Nothing! If anyone deserved judgment, it was me for my wicked mind and way of living. I cursed God, and yet, He wielded a sword of extreme, loving patience towards me. He extended His hand of forgiveness and grace to a poor, withered, bitten, and weak soul. But, remember, God sees us not as we are, or what we wear, or what we can offer, He sees us as His children whom He adores. The beauty of God’s grace and love is that there’s nothing we can do or need to do to deserve it. We only need to accept it.

That’s what a gift is, after all. You can’t earn a gift, because then it’s no longer a gift but something you’ve purchased. Just as you can’t buy a gift or it loses its value and purpose, so too, you can’t wish away fear and anxiety. But, God gives us something to help us push through: promises.

Here are a few to get you started. There are thousands more littered all throughout Scripture that testify of God’s love and compassion for His people and how He will take care of us.

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

God promises to never leave you physically or abandon you emotionally or mentally. He will always be with you in your struggle no matter how far you may have slipped into the lie. God is always one word away from rescue: Jesus!

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” – Genesis 28:15

God was telling the Jews to have faith and trust in Him, that He had made a covenant with their forefathers that He would deliver them from the slavery and bondage of Egypt and its pharaoh. But, the people of God didn’t believe and lacked the courage to trust Him. Isn’t that a blessing?  Doesn’t that just fill you with hope? Regardless of how we feel, what we believe, or what we do, God ALWAYS looks after us. What a blessing!

“For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” – Deuteronomy 4:31

No matter what we do, how far down the dark path we’ve fallen, or how ugly and disgusting our sins have bled onto us, God can redeem you. God calls all of His children home to Him. He wants us to be full of joy and peace. But, how do we experience that? The only way is by calling the only one who IS peace and joy to reside within us and save us of our sins. God is peace and God is joy. Therefore, to experience peace or joy we need God. And, from God, flows the abundance of peace, joy, happiness, prosperity, forgiveness, kindness, self-control, patience, goodness. All the fruits of the spirit are from the Spirit, which is God.

Don’t do as I did and stay in captivity to your fear or anxiety. You’re just wasting your time and energy, and missing out on all the wonders of the world. Only God can set you free and He’s waiting to do so right now. Just call on Him and He will rescue you just like He did me.