According to an article by Psychology Today, nearly 70 million Americans are dealing with stress and anxiety. Are you one of them? Do you feel uneasy going to public places like the grocery store, Target, even church? Are you worried about your job performance, the behavior of your children, or problems in your relationships? You are not alone.
The article continues with these five tips to “squash the uncomfortable consequences of stress and anxiety.” First, acknowledge that you are feeling stressed, identify the anxiety you feel, and remember that whatever is causing you to feel this way will eventually end. Second, learn self-soothing techniques such as deep breathing and positive self-talk. Third, eat healthy foods and limit or avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol. Fourth, exercise. And last but not least, get plenty of sleep.
These tips are great advice and will no doubt help to decrease anxiety and stress in your life. But as Christians, we know that the main source of comfort in our lives does not come from the actions we take ourselves. Rather, our main hope of everlasting confidence is given to us from God. Jesus has already lived the perfect life and died the perfect death for all of us, giving us proof that he truly cares about our every need. Yes, Jesus even cares about the crushing anxiety you are feeling and he invites you to turn to the only source of true comfort, the Word of God.
With this in mind, let’s look again at those five tips for decreasing anxiety in our lives.
Remember that our struggles are only temporary. In John 14, Jesus tells us “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” We can live each day looking forward to everlasting peace in heaven.
Practice positive self-talk with this theme: though Jesus, God sees me as perfect and worthy. In catechism class you memorized this about Jesus: “He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death , and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. All this he did that I should be his own.” Your worth and value is not found in your behavior or appearance, your work ethic, or how organized your closets are. Your worth and value comes from the fact that you are a redeemed child of God.
Feed on the blessings that surround you and avoid worldly stimulants that turn your focus away from God. Turn off your news channel of choice, mute your social media accounts, and promise yourself you will not look at your work e-mails tonight. Heat up a warm soothing beverage of your choice, and open your Bible to the Psalms where we read over and over that though we have troubles in our lives, God is our light and our salvation (Psalm 27), our sins have been forgiven (Psalm 32), we have nothing to fear (Psalm 46), neither a plague that destroys (Psalm 91), nor walking in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), for God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46).
Use difficult exercises to grow closer to God. God uses challenges in our lives to bring us closer to him. Remember when Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus? The Bible tells us in Matthew 14 that “when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” If you are surrounded by wind and waves in your life, call out to God. Trust that as he did with Peter, Jesus will immediately reach out his hand to you and pull you closer to himself.
Finally, climb into bed early and quiet your mind with this prayer from page 139 in the Christian Worship hymnal: O God our Father, by your mercy and might, the world turns safely into darkness and returns again to light. We place into your hands our unfinished tasks, our unsolved problems, and our unfulfilled hopes, knowing that only what you bless will prosper. To your great love and protection, we commit each other and all those we love, knowing that you alone are our sure defender. Amen.
As the pandemic surges, as hospitals fill up, as political divisiveness and social unrest continues, as relationships are strained, as depression sits on your shoulders, turn your heart to God. God loves you. God cares about you. You have been redeemed. Your struggles will end. You will spend eternity in heaven. This is all most certainly true.
Allison Spaude currently works in the Medical ICU of Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. and serves as the communications coordinator for the WELS Nurses Association.
Website Source: Long, J. (2013, August 25). 5 Quick Tips to Reduce Anxiety and Stop Stress. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-cloud9/201308/5-quick-tips-reduce-stress-and-stop-anxiety
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