“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 4:6-7
Anxiety—it’s a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual struggle that many of us will battle to some degree in our lives. Yet somehow, up until a few years ago, I thought I would be an exception. I watched others around me struggle with anxiety and naively thought to myself, “Anxiety, really? I won’t ever have time for that. I’ve got too many plans!”
But a few years ago, when life once again stopped going my way, I discovered I was wrong. I realized I wasn’t really in control of anything. And that time, taking a deep breath and trusting in God’s sovereignty seemed almost entirely out of the question.
Needless to say, I quickly learned that there are just some things in life I can’t plan or control no matter how hard I try. And during that year in particular, I began to see that my anxious, worrisome and fearful reactions to life’s challenging circumstances—which, by the way, are not outside of God’s plan for me—were not honoring to God because they displayed selfishness and a lack of faith. The way I reacted when thrown a curveball was a reflection of what was most important in my heart, which was (and still is) often my desire for things to go my way, as if I don’t need God.
I now know that when I feel anxious, I have to recognize that my anxiety, too, will be something that God will use for my good and for the good of others around me. I have to remember that God uses trials to grow us, strengthen our faith and be a testimony to others. But back then, when I first began to experience anxiety, I repeatedly chose to tell myself that God was just going to leave me there on my own.
But that’s a complete lie. And it’s exhausting to believe it.
It took some time, but in the midst of my anxiety, I began to choose to believe in the promises of God (none of which, by the way, tell me that God is ever going to forget about me). I began to study them, memorize them, recite them and hold onto them like my life depended on them (and it does). Because, you know what? Sometimes it’s not God’s will to change our circumstances. Sometimes, He allows undesirable circumstances to come our way so He can change us.
And clearly, He wanted to change me. So here are six promises I clung to in that season as I surrendered my fears and trusted God with my life (I still cannot believe I am writing this in past tense – God is faithful!). My prayer is that they will encourage you as you cling to them, no matter what you’re going through.
1. God loves me
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
2. God gives me peace
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
“Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
3. I am blessed by a God I can trust
“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.” Psalm 40:4-5
4. God will provide for me everything I need in this life
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34
5. I have no reason to be fearful
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
6. God will comfort me and use my testimony comfort others
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5