Inspired by the book Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado.
I was just about to fall asleep when that familiar feeling shook me back awake. Anxiety was banging on the door, and once it starts, sleep is beyond reach. I’ve played the ignoring game before, but that takes more energy than I had during a midnight encounter. Another option is laying there with your thoughts, but that only works well if you’re feeling incredibly rational, brave, and grounded. A third option is distracting yourself, which is quite easy these days.
So I grabbed my iPod and started scrolling through my library app because books make me happy. There I discovered, my library has a whole collection of books by Max Lucado, one of my favorite Christian Living authors. And low and behold, there was his book on anxiety available for immediate download. God is so good to meet our needs!
Anxiety can feel like a scary or shameful word. It may even leave a bad taste in your mouth or a feeling of guilt in the pit of your stomach. “We have been taught that the Christian life is a life of peace, and when we don’t have peace, we assume the problem lies within us. Not only do we feel anxious, but we also feel guilty about our anxiety! The result is a downward spiral of worry, guilt, worry, guilt.” ~ Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado, Pg. 8
The good news is, the power to break free from anxiety is available for all of us today.
Anxiety is related to fear, but it is not the same thing. “Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one.” ~ Pg. 4 So when you have an active imagination, easy access to news sources, touchy bosses, and strict professors, it is easy to get anxious. However, winding down is harder than winding up. It takes a purposeful choice to relinquish our human control and trust the sovereignty of God.
“It is not God’s will that you lead a life of perpetual anxiety. It is not his will that you face every day with dread and trepidation. He made you for more than a life of breath-stealing angst and mind-splitting worry. He has a new chapter for your life. And he is ready to write it.” ~ Pg. 12
Throughout his book, Anxious for Nothing, Max Lucado uses one particular passage of Scripture as the template for overcoming anxiety. It says, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV
“This verse is a call, not to a feeling, but to a decision and a deeply rooted confidence that God exists, that he is in control, and that he is good.” ~ Pg. 21
Rejoicing is the first step. Worship takes a conscious decision to look up instead of in. We can’t feel worried when we’re worshiping. We can’t feel stressed when we recognize that we are blessed. And when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the pressure of anxiety is released. During His time in human form, Jesus suffered anxiety just like the rest of us. In fact, He was so overwhelmed in the Garden of Gethsemane that He sweat blood (Luke 22:44). He understands in a way no one else can.
So “Lift up your eyes. Don’t get lost in your troubles. Dare to believe that good things will happen. Dare to believe that God was speaking to you when he said, ‘In everything God works for the good of those who love him’ (Rom.8:28 NCV). The mind cannot at the same time be full of God and full of fear.” ~ Pg. 32
Next, we have to remember that God is near. We are not alone in our anxiety. Nor are we alone in the trials that cause it. Sometimes knowing God is close by is comforting. We’re hurting, tired, and in need of a loving friend. Other times it’s provoking since the cause of our anxiety is our own sin. We messed up, and we caused the chaos. Then, going to God can cause a whole new wave of anxiety because it requires humility and repentance. Nevertheless, God’s grace and forgiveness are sufficient for every failure. Sin should drive us toward God, not away.
“Your future matters more than your past. God’s grace is greater than your sin. What you did was not good. But your God is good. And he will forgive you.” ~ Pg. 45
After that comes prayer. Prayer is not a hotline for help. It is an open channel of conversation between us and our heavenly Father. Elegant words are not required, whispers are welcome, and length does not matter. The important thing is that we pray. The only way to get rid of the bundles of burdens that weigh us down is to give them to God. And God loves to take them from us. In fact, He loves talking to us period.
“God doesn’t delay. He never places you on hold or tells you to call again later. God loves the sound of your voice. Always. He doesn’t hide when you call. He hears your prayers.” ~ Pg. 82
The final method for achieving less anxiety and more peace is gratitude. Nothing replaces worry’s constant hum like thanksgiving. Because the closer we look, the easier it is to see God’s many blessings. Anxiety can steal our joy, but we can take it right back through thanksgiving. Sometimes being thankful is harder than staying anxious. We long for happiness and peace, except it just seems out of reach. But in Christ, those things are freely available.
“He can give you a happiness that can never be taken, a grace that will never expire, and a wisdom that will ever increase. He is a fountain of living hope that will never be exhausted.” ~ Pg. 99
Anxiety is a difficult emotion to contend with. It’s draining, exhausting, and overwhelming. What’s more, it comes with the carry-on baggage of shame and guilt. The sheer combination can make anxiety feel like a prison cell. But here’s the secret—the prison cell door is open. We can walk out and find freedom in Christ. So “Leave your concerns with God. Let him take charge. Let God do what he is so willing to do.” ~ Pg. 147
I got stuck in the cell that sleepless night, but Anxious for Nothing helped me find my way back out. If you struggle with anxiety or just need some encouragement in this fearful world, I hope you will read this book for yourself. And if you can’t find a copy, maybe it’s time to read Philippians again. Either way, God is always available to lovingly listen to your anxious thoughts.
All is Grace, Esther Noe
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to like, comment, and share! I’ve written about three other books by Max Lucado as well, including Beyond Heaven’s Door, A Love Worth Giving, & Cosmic Christmas.
Disclaimer: I own no rights to this book nor am I affiliated with it. These are simply my reflections. All credit goes to Max Lucado and his publishers. This review was not required. All thoughts are my own.