Monday, January 30, 2017

"Five Steps to Overcoming Fear and Anxiety"

Source: Aggressive bear charges spectators in Finland by SamiHaaranen on Rumble

I came across this video yesterday, and it made me giggle, then laugh when I thought about it for a bit. Have you ever been chased by a snarling dog? That can be a scary thing, if the dog is a Yorkie or Chihuahua because sharp teeth are still sharp teeth, even on a small dog. But when a German Shepherd chases you, it's terrifying! This bear must have been really frightened by the dog that barked and growled and chased it through the woods.Then, in a moment of clarity, the bear stopped and said to itself, "Hey wait...I'm a bear!" And that reminder made all the difference. With that, he turned around and began to chase the dog, which turned tail and fled.

When you're afraid, it's important to remember who you are.

The devil tries to convince you that you're weak, that you're small, that you're helpless, and that you probably deserve the trouble you're having anyway. But Jesus says of the devil, "...He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44 NLT)." The first step to combating fear is to know that most of the things that you're afraid of are lies, anyway. Your own self-talk convinces you that your troubles are a giant like Goliath, to keep you on the run from something that's smaller than you are, anyway. Overcoming fear means you realize that it's a lie, and that there is a way of salvation.

What is that way of salvation? 1 John 4:18 (NLT) says, "love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear." God is love, and in God's perfect love, there is peace.  Like a light bulb drives the darkness out of a room, so the perfect love, drawn down through faith, drives fear out of the anxious heart.  On a practical level, what can you do to welcome this love into your dark moments?  The second step is to turn to God in prayer and worship.  You do this by "singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts (Ephesians 5:19 NLT)."  This is effective because Psalm 22:3 says that God literally inhabits the praises of God's people.  When you worship God, you become aware of the divine loving presence that drives out fear.  Try to stay in an attitude of prayer and praise throughout the day, because Isaiah 26;3 says that God will keep you in perfect peace when your thoughts are focused on God, rather than your problem.

The third step is to trust that God has it under control. Psalm 56:3 (NLT) says, "But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you." So trust can come as a response to fear. But even better than that is when you get used to trusting so much that it acts as a fear-preventative. Isaiah 12:2 (NLT) says, "See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory."  Thoughts become patterns that govern the way we live.  When you live in a state of fear, oppression, and anxiety, that becomes your pattern.  Those become your go-to emotions when you feel threatened.  But Romans 12:2 (NLT) promises that it's possible to reprogram those old patterns.  "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world," says the apostle Paul, "but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think."  You do this by replacing your attitude of anxiety with affirmations of faith and trust.  These may be favorite scriptures (like the ones in this article) that you memorize and repeat as your own personal mantra, or spiritual music that becomes your new theme song.  A friend of mine has her own song that she sings to the tune of Allelujah by Bill & Gloria Gaither, with four verses of God-given new lyrics: "I'm protected," "I am covered," "I am sealed," and "I am healed."  This song of faith dispels the darkness and invites the light.

The fourth step is calling on the strength that is within you through Christ. In Matthew 28:18 (NLT), Jesus says, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth." In Luke 10:19 (NLT), Jesus also says, "Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you." This is where our video comes in. It reminds us of this one great truth: Don't flee from the hounds of hell; Instead, be the bear!  If you find yourself running, then just stop.  Remember who you are, turn around, and chase your attacker instead.  "So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7 NLT)."  Not only do you have victory over the devil, but over those who are manipulated by demonic power.  "But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world (1 John 4:4 NLT)."  Remember, your enemy is not another person, no matter how fearsome they are.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly place (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)."  It's your job to believe the truth, turn to God in prayer and worship, trust that God has it under control, and call on the strength and authority that Jesus gives.  Then let God deal with the rest.

The final step is to find a partner in faith who has your back.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) says, "A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."  In Matthew 18:19, Jesus says, "I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you."  When you have a friend who has your back, then when you are weak, they can be strong for you and when they're weak, you can strengthen them.  And of course, when you're both weak, then certainly God is the third strand in the cord that holds you together.  Trust in each other, and trust in God to protect you.

Today I wonder, is there something that's been frightening you?  Is it a problematic person, a financial fear, a horrifying health problem, or something else?  Some fears may be God-given responses to danger that help you prepare for the worst.  But other fears become crippling to your soul and spirit.  Those kinds of fears are not from God, but from the Enemy of your soul.  2 Timothy 1:7 (AKJV) says, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."  I pray that you'll know God's power, that you'll feel God's love, that God's truth will create new patterns of thinking and a sound mind for you today.

No comments: