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There was no anxiety, fear or shame, in the beginning. When God created planet earth, His finale was the creation of Adam and Eve. “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25) In their relationship with God, in their relationship with each other and in their relationship with themselves they were morally innocent, like children. Child-like faith depended upon God to protect, provide and give fulfilling purpose. They were free to live fully in each moment.
Anxiety, fear and shame entered into creation after Adam and Eve disobeyed God. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16b-17) “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Genesis 3:6-7)
Adam and Eve did not die physically or mentally or emotionally. It was a spiritual death. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’” (Genesis 3:8-10) Adam and Eve lost moral innocence as shame and fear gained power in their lives.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, synonyms for anxiety include: agitation, anxiousness, apprehension, apprehensiveness, care, concern, concernment, fear, nervousness, unease, uneasiness, worry. It is defined as:
During my years of Biblical counseling, it was routine for me to ask a client: “What are you afraid of or anxious about?” In asking that question, my objective was to bring into awareness the people and circumstances causing anxiety. Anxiety occurs when I live life and assess circumstances without including God’s character, perspective and promises from His Word.
The good news is we don’t have to live in anxiety, fear or shame. Through faith in God’s character, love and Word we can have peace and joy.
Faith or fear, which will have more power in my life today? Truth or feelings, which will have more power in my life today? God’s truth or my wisdom, which will have more power in my life today?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
If I choose faith, God is pleased. Choosing faith positions me to receive the courage, wisdom and strength needed to trust God and not be controlled by anxiety, fear or shame. Promises such as: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6) When God is pleased He fills my soul with the fruit of the Spirit. This includes: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Choosing fear positions me to forfeit God’s promises while I depend on my own resources, work out of my own strength and wisdom. The results include: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
Over 365 times, in the Bible, God’s Word invites, commands and instructs us in how to process fear or anxiety. For it to be mentioned that many times tells us processing fear or anxiety is a common problem. It also tells us God is very persistent about addressing this common problem. He helps us find our way back to faith.
Fear is a normal God given emotion to warn us when we are in danger. There is a proper place for fear. If I am in the path of a truck and the driver blows his horn, appropriate fear occurs. God made us with emotions, but never intended emotions to have more power than God’s Word. As an example, God’s Word says: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) According to God’s Word, we are secure. I am left with a choice. Will I accept the truth, by faith, that I am secure, even when I don’t feel secure? If I refuse to accept that truth, then I am saying God is a liar.
Do I have to feel secure to be secure? No
Does it have to make sense to me that I am secure to be secure? No
There is nothing wrong with emotions. God has emotions. He made us with emotions. But He never intended for emotions to have more power in our lives that His Word.
There is nothing wrong with thinking, processing conclusions. God thinks. He made us with capacity to think. But He never intended for our thoughts to have more power in our lives than His Word.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7)
I know what I feel, but what does God say about this?
I know what makes sense, but what does God say about this?
God has recorded many examples of His children as they faced circumstances that were fearful and overwhelming. Joshua was known for his faith. He had walked with Moses for many years. Yet, when Moses died and God called upon Joshua to lead His people, circumstances overwhelmed him.
“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5) Yet verses 6, 7 and 9 record God’s efforts helping Joshua. “Be strong and courageous…” “Be strong and very courageous…” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged…”
Joshua 1:8 provides God’s solution. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” God tells Joshua, when you speak, include my Word. When you think, include my Word. When you do, include my Word.
If a child is injured while playing, instinctively they find their mom. Mom’s presence, touch and words change the child’s perspective and response to the injury. Mom’s reassurance doesn’t heal the wound, but the child begins to calm down. Faith in mom makes the difference. In the same way, God wants us to have faith in His presence, touch and Word. Faith doesn’t change the circumstances, but changes our response.
In my own life and in the lives of those I counseled, faith in God’s character and promises from His Word are life changing. Reading verses out loud several times, in the morning and before going to bed begin to make a difference. Writing verses on an index card and carrying the card with you to read out loud when anxiety surfaces, makes a difference.
Call to action:
Are you struggling with anxiety? Try this approach for 30 days. Write these verses. Read them out loud to yourself several times each day.
1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety upon Him because he cares for you.”
Proverbs 12:25 “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Call to action:
Pray for and support Hope Family Ministries- Hope Family Counseling.