September 24 – Anxiety – Promise of His Presence

Read Isaiah 43:1-3

As I sit for a moment before work, watching Mattie eat his breakfast, I pray that he grows to know the Lord but, not just that, that he grows to know and live in the confidence that Christ is always with him. Since I was a young girl, I always knew and believed who Jesus was, but it wasn’t until I surrendered my life that the confidence of God’s presence always being with me was the truth for my life.

Before surrendering, I doubted often that He was with me, I feared often that He would leave me and I cried often that I had done too much or seen too much to be considered holy. I pray and plead that Mattie and our soon-to-be-born, Emma, never go through what I did when it comes to knowing that Jesus is close. 

As I watch Mattie, I think of the song “It is well” by Bethel. Some of the lyrics go “far be it from me to not believe even when my eyes can’t see and this mountain that’s in front of me will be thrown into the midst of the sea. Through it all, through it all my eyes are on You. Through it all, it is well”. 

I sing this, or think of this, because, when it comes to things that he and Emma may one day face, I want them to know the truth that, no matter the mountain or waves that they face, they will be okay because their eyes will be fixed on Jesus. 

This is hard to do, it takes practice and constant renewing of your mind and heart. For someone who struggles with anxiety, it is especially hard to keep eyes fixed on Jesus because it means surrendering all of yourself, all of your control in order for Him to move within your life. 

The holiness in that brokenness is that, as my life began to change, my faith began to grow as did my knowledge of God’s character. I have grown to know that He will never leave me or forsake me. I’ve grown to live in the confidence that His presence is accessible because He is always near. I’ve grown to know that nothing will separate His love and care for me because He does love and care for me and has proven it time and time again. Sometimes I just have to open my mind, heart and eyes to see just how much He has come through. His faithfulness has outweighed the outcome of my anxiety and I’m able to rest on His word, His truth and His love. 

There have been people in my life that have asked me, “How do you just know that God is there?” My answer often points back to the promises of His word but also just the fact that the gift of faith has grown as I have grown in Him. 

The gift of faith is something that does not come easy for me either. I am a doubter -a big-time worrier – and I often question the motives of most everyone. It took a long time for me to realize and practice that faith and logic do not go hand and hand. Once I was able to realize and stand firm in the truth that, no matter what is happening around me the Lord is with me, my anxiety dissipates. 

So, if you too, struggle with anxiety, if you struggle with the emotions that render from the unknown, I ask you to reread Isaiah 43:1-3. Read it over and over again until your mind clicks. Until you are able to read those words and stand firm, acting on that truth. 

I pray and plead that, through it all, your eyes are fixed on Jesus.

Kelly Lawson

September 23 – Anxiety – The Weight of Anxiety

Read Proverbs 12:25

Nearing the end of my college career at Ohio State, I had my first engineering position lined up and was extremely excited to be graduating and moving out of state for this new endeavor. Things had lined up really well with accepting a job offer at my 1st choice employer prior to graduation, making the last half of my senior year low stress. 

At least, so I thought, until the latter half events of my senior year started to unfold.

During 2003, the conflict and unrest with Afghanistan was increasing and the United States was beginning talks of intervening. The situation was one I monitored closely as I enlisted in the Ohio Air National Guard coming out of high school and served during my college career.  As my enlistment was scheduled to complete in March of 2003, the unrest in Afghanistan was high, making my near-term future very unclear.  Needless to say, there were many anxious days and nights, waiting to see if God would change my life direction towards serving in the Middle East or continue my intended civilian career path.

Today’s text summed up my emotional state quite well during this time:

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up”.

All of us have had their fair share of anxious times during the last year, fighting through personal, family, work, and just stressful times in our country.  If you’ve had a chance to be encouraged by a friend via text or a phone call, you know what that can do to lift your spirits and ease those anxious thoughts.  Anxiety is our soul’s prompt that it’s time to pray and only Jesus can provide the ultimate relief to our uneasy situations. 

God guided my path in college and, as my enlistment ended, 3 days later the U.S. entered into Afghanistan. I had prepared my mind and heart for whatever His plan was but not without anxious thoughts of the unknown path.

Two quick takeaways for those anxious thoughts this week:

  1. Reach out to a friend and tell them about what’s causing anxious thoughts for you and seek prayer support, but also ask what is on their mind that you can pray for them. Never underestimate what praying for someone else can do to help change your perspective.
  2. Pray in the morning, evening – giving Him thanks for the good days and presenting your concerns in the midst of conflict.

Jesus is there to listen to our fears and anxious thoughts, give them all to Him today!

Drew Hilty

September 22 – Anxiety – Trusting God

Read Isaiah 26:3-4 and Proverbs 3:5-6

Peace.

The very thought of peace brings with its expectations of unhurried serenity. It is freedom from the pressures and anxieties of life. Peace is not necessarily the absence of howling winds of turmoil that might surround us. It is, however, the calm that is possible in the eye of the hurricane. Most all of us yearn to experience more peace. But real peace is not the result of changing our circumstances. Instead, it is the byproduct of changing our focus and attitude.

Isaiah describes it like this:

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.

(Is. 26:3)

According to Isaiah, God is the source of peace. If we try to generate it by controlling our environment, we will work frantically and, ultimately, in vain. Although God can use the insights and counsel from others to calm our anxious thoughts and wandering hearts, He is the definitive source.

Isaiah also outlines a description of those who receive His peace. They are those who trust in Him. These are children of God confident in the care of a loving Father (1 Jn. 3:1), Who gives good gifts to His kids (Matt. 7:7-12). Those who receive peace recognize that even adversity gives way to the good that God is working in them (Rom. 8:28).

But the trust required here is a steadfast conviction. It is a relentless posture where the person’s thoughts continuously come to rest on the immoveable and reliable Rock eternal. He alone can sustain us. He alone can calm our fear and infuse peace in its place.

So, what is the rock on which your mind comes to rest? I am not proud of the fact that my mind regularly seems to settle on the most recent concern about the unknown and fears about the “what if…” I must discipline myself to focus on the promises, character, and goodness of my Heavenly Father. He alone is the Rock eternal whose peace can replace my anxiety.

What about you?

Steve Kern

September 21 – Anxiety – Birds and lillies

Read Matthew 6:25-34

As you look back over your life, can you identify moments where you thought your circumstances were much bigger than they actually turned out to be? Can you recall thinking that you were sinking when God, in turn, had no such plans to allow that to happen?

I was changing our 18-month old son’s diaper when I got a call from Kelly telling me that she had just lost her job.

“Uh, what?” I question as I fasten the straps of Mattie’s diaper and place him on the floor.

God has this habit of blessing me with peace in crazy moments. I encouraged Kelly and told her that we would talk when she got home. Once I hung up and sat down in Mattie’s rocker, the tears started to come. As Mattie is crawling around the room, I think to myself:

“How on earth are we going to make it?”

“The budget is already tight. Is this even possible?”

“How am I going to stay strong for Kelly and lead my family?”

Through the blurriness of my tears, I call my dad and tell him the news. Looking back, I guess I was reaching out for hope and the slightest hint of light that things would be okay.

Dad told me that God wasn’t surprised by this and would help us through this trial. He assured me that not only was God for them but they were to.

Simple but effective.

Our reading today provides such a perspective to our trials. When we really stop to think that God cares for and provides for animals and flowers…things that don’t further the Kingdom of Heaven in the slightest…it brings us hope.

“Are you not much more valuable than they?”

These aren’t Matthew’s words or any other disciple. These words are straight from the lips of Jesus.

Our reading tells us that if God cares for and provides for material things, how much more does He care for us?

When we are struggling with anxiety, it is very easy to think that our situation is unique. While it is unique for us individually, there are people all around us struggling. Some of the battles are known while many more are not.

In what way are you going to, first of all, live in God’s provision? What circumstances in your life to do you need to give over to God and allow His will to be done? Who do you know who is struggling that you need to show them this hope that we learned about today?

Three years have passed since I got that phone call from Kelly. I can confidently tell you that God took such good care of us. The best was yet in front of us and it still is today.

God is for you. He loves you. He will take care of you.

Jake Lawson

September 20 – Anxiety – Peace from God

Read John 14:27

I love this verse! Every time I read it I am flooded with peace. Let’s read it one more time, one sentence at a time.

Peace I leave with you”: His peace is already here. A gift already given.

My peace I give to you”: His promise to continue to supply us with peace.

I do not give to you as the world gives”: Who robs us of peace? The world does. Which is exactly why true peace cannot come from this world, not from anyone (or anything) in it. It must come from God.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” And if we can be strong enough to not just believe this verse but receive it, God is going to give us a peace to combat any circumstance or fear we face.

Do you feel peace right now? I do. It pours over me every time I dig into each line. It doesn’t change my circumstances but it does give me the strength to not allow my circumstances to change me.

There is so much fear, doubt, concern, anger and anxiety in our world right now and our Father’s choice of attack against this onslaught by the enemy is always the same: PEACE. But how do we test the voice we are listening to as we seek peace? Here’s a helpful comparison I once read:

God’s Voice: stills you, leads you, reassures you, enlightens you, encourages you, comforts you, calms you and convicts you.

The enemy’s voice: rushes you, pushes you, frightens you, confuses you, discourages you, worries you, obsesses you and condemns you.

“As for me and my house, we serve (listen to) the Lord”

Joshua 24:15.

What an easy way to serve the Lord!

The simple act of accepting His peace can change not just your life but it will become a calming beacon of hope to several lives around you. Take a moment and receive it. No matter how frustrated or fearful your circumstances are, the Holy Spirit is with you wherever you find yourself reading this.

Lord, let the reader feel you literally take the weight off of their shoulders. I speak healing and deliverance to their heart and mind. Calm their spirit. Deep breath. Receive His Peace.

Nate Torrence

September 19 – Anxiety – The place for your anxiety

Read 1 Peter 5:7

Over the last 12 years of my life and walking with the Lord, He has continually shown me that my safe place is at His feet. 

If you have ever read anything I’ve ever written, then you may already know that one of my favorite stories in the Word is 1 Samuel 1 and 2. 

The biggest reason I love reading Hannah’s story is because it is one of rawness and realness. It is one that shows just how safe it is to bring everything to the Lord, no matter the situation, circumstances or emotions involved.

Over the course of my life, I’ve learned that Jesus doesn’t just know about what I am going through but that He cares about them and me. I used to think that “taking my thoughts captive” meant I needed to suppress them and cast them aside. What Jesus wants is that we bring them to Him so that He can walk with us, hold us and show up during all that is going on. 

The root cause of my anxiety has always been the fact that I lack control. My thoughts and emotions run wild and I can’t think straight, but in circles and it seems as though I can’t calm anything down. In those moments, I don’t try to force myself to stop; I go to a quiet space, close my eyes, envision myself walking to the throne room and just sitting at the feet of Jesus. 

As I sit there, He one by one takes my cares and struggles and holds them for me. 

It’s in that moment that peace enters in and I’m able to see straight. I am able to determine what is real and what is not and I am able to surrender control. 

We have no way of knowing what Hannah said to the Lord in 1 Samuel 1, but what I can gather is that she was all over the place (to the point that Eli thought she was drunk) and she couldn’t seem to calm down. She had no control over her situation and had no way of fixing it so all she was able to do was go before the Lord and be raw and real with her circumstance and surrender it to Him. She literally had to give it over and walk away, believing and trusting that the Lord had her in the palm of His hands. 

The Lord blessed her beyond measure. 

How many times in your life do you experience anxiety and try to just stop it? How many times in your life do you lack control of a situation to the point where you aren’t sure what to do or where to go?

The answer for all of it is Jesus. Jesus changes everything. It is in him we gain peace and joy and are able to move forward, knowing that He not only knows about the things in our lives, but He cares for them and us. 

What cares do you need to allow Him to take? I urge you and pray over you that you go before Him, laying down at His feet all that you are and all that you have.

You will find, He is always there!

Kelly Lawson

September 18 – Anxiety – Prayer

Read Philippians 4:6-7

The goal is peace.

The kind of peace that pervades every corner of the heart, every inch of the mind. When life gets dark and the road ahead is full of fog, that goal is easier said than pursued. 

Like when the phone blows up with family conflict. And discussions about who is to blame for the world’s violence dominate social media posts. Then there’s the violence right here in our own land. And don’t forget the just plain busyness that fall brings as the holidays approach, the kids’ sports seasons are in full force, and work is an endless pit of long to-do’s with not enough people to pull it off.

Still, the goal remains.

The peace of God to guard those corners of your entire being in every situation. The thought of it truly passes all understanding because anxiety is a very real part of this world. That’s why God used Paul to help us navigate the stress and anxiety. In these two verses, Paul tells us how to deal with it, how to present your requests to God. And He gives us three tangible instructions to help.

  • Pray about it. No matter what the situation, talk to God about it. Your son is struggling with his math homework? Pray about it. Your prognosis looms dark and unknown? Present it to God as you spend time with Him. Seek His heart. Find intimacy with Him as you talk with Him.
  • Petition God. Don’t just talk to Him about it. Ask Him for clarity. Ask Him for healing. Ask Him to act according to His will, to make His will yours. Just ask. 
  • Draw near with thanksgiving. Because His character is good and everything He does is perfect, approach Him with gratitude for what He is doing, even in this circumstance. Even if He chooses not to change it.

I’m not suggesting it’s as easy as 1-2-3. But when we take these steps and make the move toward God, truly letting Him be in charge, He works un-understandable peace somehow. And He will use that peace to protect us and keep us, even in the stormiest, darkest, foggiest circumstances.

Bria Wasson