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Ten Keys to Managing Anxiety

Prayer. When problems are a threat, we can pray with the confidence that God hears. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul wrote, “but in everything … present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hears and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Perspective. We need to focus on positive truths, especially on God’s concern for us and His control of every circumstance. He is the Good Shepherd, who provides for our needs, guides us and protects us (Ps. 23).

We must also recognize God’s ownership of what we have. He created all things and “loans” them to us to use for our need and His purposes. If these things don’t belong to us, then we won’t worry so much about what happens to them. When informed that his house had been destroyed by fire, John Wesley simply remarked, “God’s house has burned down.”

Past Provision. Struggling with present anxieties, we do well to reflect on God’s past faithfulness. When I first met Laurie, she was devastated by her husband’s infidelities and desertion during the seven years of their marriage. She agonized about the future. A key to defeating anxiety was the memory of God’s sufficient provision for her through the years. He would not fail her now. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord,” wrote the Psalmist (Ps. 77:11).

Proper Goals. Many of the treasures we strive to gain contain a high level of anxiety. These include approval, success and wealth. In competing for these prizes, we may win or lose. Hard-won gains are easily lost, however, and they frustrate us by not providing the fulfillment we seek.

Bill Gates has a net worth of $100 billion, yet even he acknowledges that success is easily lost. “In this [software] business, by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself. Unless you’re running all the time, you’re gone.”

Jesus taught us to seek goals which have eternal value: loving God, serving others and developing a godly character. Not only can these be attained without fear of competition or loss, but they also bring lasting fulfillment. Paul considered everything else garbage compared to the value of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:7-9).

Purpose. Worries about trivial matters occupy us when we have no greater concerns. Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life … Seek first [God’s] kingdom and righteousness” (Matt. 6:35, 33). Passion for God’s purposes leave less room for anxiety.

Presence of God. Peace is the assurance that God is present no matter what the situation.

“Be still,” His Word exhorts, “and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). Even in “the valley of the shadow of death,” we are secure for, as the Psalmist declares, “You are with me” (Ps. 23:4).

One day after school, my four year-old daughter made a game of thinking of ways to end the sentence, “God is there even when.” She affirmed God’s presence, “when I feel yucky … when it’s dark … when I’m lost … when there’s a big monster.” How true!

If we depend of circumstances and uncertain treasures, we will worry much. Instead, through practical actions, biblical living and the experience of God’s presence, we gain increasing peace of mind.

PR

Stephen Lim, “10 Keys to Managing Anxiety,” originally appearing in War Cry (April 29, 2000), 14-15. Used with permission of the author.

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2011

About the Author: Stephen Lim, M.Div. and D.Min (Fuller Theological Seminary), is Professor Emeritus at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, MO. His article, “Why You Need A Savior,” was selected by the Evangelical Press Association as the second best article on evangelism published in 2009. He is presently working on a book, “Transforming Believers into Growing Disciples.” www.agts.edu/faculty/lim.html

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