Question: 1 have become aware lately that I feel more anxious than I ever have in my life. The peace that I experience because of my trust in God is still there, but worry and fear are breaking through and taking control more than they ever have. Do you have any recommen-dations for me?

Answer: Anxietv is one of those emotional states that seem to be on the increase for numerous people, so don’t feel alone in your strug¬gle. The fact that the Bible so often encourages us not to fear or worry is a good indication of what a common struggle it is for us.

My study of the subject of anxiety indicates that we must enter into a 3-stage approach to really manage it effectively. A more tran¬quil life involves changes in the areas of body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Archibald Hart, in his excellent book, The Anxiety Cure, makes a strong case for a direct link between stress and anxiety. He pleads for us to remember some of the common sense aspects of stress management such as proper diet and exercise. Honoring the Biblical concept of rest is also crucial. Chronically overtaxing our bodies changes brain chemistry and makes it all but impossible to experience the kind of tranquility and joy which reduces anxiety.

The second aspect of our battle takes place in the mind. The Bible is clear about how our Christian faith is to “renew our minds”. All of us, however, carry around faulty thinking patterns, which can signifi¬cantly increase anxiety. Merle Jordan, in a book entitled ‘Taking on the gods’–The Test of the Pastoral Counselor, indicates we need to exam¬ine our “self-talk” to weed out what he calls “secular scriptures”. We all have ongoing conversations in our mind where we are likely to be telling ourselves authoritative things which are untrue, such as:
1) I am a failure in that I don’t meet my expectations every time.
2) If people really knew me, everyone would reject me.
3) God is powerful, but when it really comes down to it I am on my own.

Anxiety is also a primary battleground in the realm of spiritual warfare. Fear is the key weapon of Satan. If he can convince us that trusting God is shaky ground, then we lose our primary resource for peace. We are encouraged to “cast our anxiety upon the Lord, because He cares for us” (Peter 5:7), and to channel our worry into prayerful¬ness where the peace of Christ transcends all understanding (Phil. 4:6). In Revelation 21, a picture is painted of the New Jerusalem, which literally means the “City of Peace”. Our ultimate security is found in knowing that every anxiety will someday be swallowed up in perfect peace. In the meantime we serve a God who promises suffi¬cient grace for times of trouble.

I would encourage you to make this time in your life a point of ex¬amining the balance of your body, mind and spirit. Maintaining life balance in such chaotic times is difficult. but anxiety often serves as a symptom that something in our life needs to be adjusted back into a more therapeutic realm.

–From Southeast Outlook, with permission