In the middle of the night your phone suddenly rings, startling you awake, and the first words you hear from a loved one are, “We’re okay, really, so I don’t want you to worry. But I have something to tell you.” What is your automatic response? “Oh, no! What’s wrong?” In what feels like a crisis moment, our mind starts to spin with panic thoughts and worry. Unless we make the decision to push pause and give it to God, knowing He is in control of the situation, worry and stress take over. I find it interesting that the word “worry” comes from the Old English “wyrgan,” which means “to strangle.” It’s as though it literally chokes the joy out of our lives.
When you feel fears and troubles building, how do you handle the stress and anxiety?
I worked with a woman whose military son was serving overseas in a very dangerous place. Over time, she became so overcome with worry that she could hardly function. I said to her, “You can’t change his situation, but you can come to a place of peace and rest in the Lord.” We began to pray together, and she started to arm herself with scriptures to declare out loud when worry tried to strangle her joy and peace. To wage warfare, she would say, “God, thank You that my son is in the palms of Your hands. No weapon formed against him will prosper. Thank You that Your angels have charge over him to keep him in all his ways. He will tread upon the lion and the cobra! Thank You that my son will come home safely.” Little by little, she took control over that worry and her focus and resolve came back. She would praise God in the midst of her fear, and it made all the difference through her son’s six years in the military and safe arrival home. Worry pulls us away from God’s power, but worship draws us to Him, and His presence changes us.
The Bible says, “Let us lay aside every weight…which so easily ensnares us,” so we can run with purpose the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1). There’s a technique I’ve used that helps me do that when I feel anxiety building. I imagine myself putting all those troubles into a big red helium balloon, then I release it to God and say, “Father, thank You that You’re bigger than all these troubles. I’m giving them to You.”
So how are you doing with worry today? Do what works for you, but find a way to lay aside those worries, because God will sustain you when you release them to Him.