The Key to Peace in the Midst of Overwhelming Anxiety

Are you tired emotionally? Is your peace short-lived due to the overwhelming nature of your life right now? What if I told you there is a cosmic spiritual war going on right now around you that is impacting you inwardly. Would you believe me?

We’re not the first to enter this cosmic battle!

The apostle Paul can relate.

He lived part of his life in a prison cell. I can’t imagine how emotionally exhausting this season of his life must have been. Yet, he found strength in the Lord and he experienced hope, encouragement and peace in spite of the circumstances that surrounded him.

It is possible to experience peace amidst overwhelming anxiety. Paul shows us in Philippians 3:12 what to do:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

What is “this” Paul is referring to? He is referring to the resurrection from the dead. He wants to live again. Don’t we all? He wants to live forever with God.

In this world of social media and shortsighted emotions and visions, I find that our world is losing its eternal perspective in every way. We find ourselves living for just today, and though it is important to live in the moment, it is equally important to live for our eternity.

Paul wants the world to know he has not yet attained what he wants most. (How about you?) He has not already received all he longs for nor has he been brought to that perfect completeness to which he has aspired.

Paul has two aspirations in life. He wants to be perfect and eternal.

I do too.

How about you? What do you want out of this life? Are you pressing into that?

If you are not growing toward Christ, you are declining in your faith for Christ and your peace with Christ.

If you are declining in your faith for Christ, you will notice it in the lack of peace in your life.

Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13–14 we have to forget what lies behind us and strain forward to what lies ahead. We have to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Are you pressing into God’s calling on your life, or have you given up?

Recently I was in a meeting with the elders of the church I pastor. I had asked them to pray about me doing something God has asked me to do that would be difficult, challenging and the anxiety of following through was overwhelming. They asked me why I felt I needed to do what I was requesting they bless me to do. My response: “I believe this is who and what God has asked me to be and do.”

What difficult thing is God asking you to be and do? Are you willing to press into God’s calling on your life, or will you fall back?

The most fearful thing I have ever done in my life is write and publish The Mystery of 23: God Speaks book. It has been a painful and scary endeavor.

But what we do for God matters and, in the end, it is all that matters.

If you do what God is calling you to do, every day, regardless of how difficult it may be, it is moving you closer to your goal of perfection, perfect peace, and eternity with Jesus.

What does it take to think and live like this? Paul tells us in Philippians 3:15 that those of us who are mature should think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

It takes maturity in your thinking. How do you know if you are mature in your thinking? Paul tells us in Philippians 3:16 that mature people in the faith hold true to what we have attained.

Mature people see what they have attained through the difficult sacrifices of their faith and life.

Maybe you need to remind yourself of what you have already attained.

Take inventory of the good in your life that God has done already through you because of your willingness to be obedient to him. As you do this, Paul tells us in Philippians 3:17 to keep our eyes on those who walk according to Christ’s example.

Who is this in your life? You won’t go the distance without other faithful examples in your life to encourage you in that direction. It is too easy to fix our eyes on the things of this world and chase after them. Paul tells us in Philippians 3:19 destruction to our faith comes when we set our minds on earthly things. Maybe it is time for you to adjust your mindset. What are you afraid of losing if you do what God asks you to do? Take your eyes off the earthly things and obey. You won’t regret it!

You and I have to take our minds off our circumstances, expenses, challenges and things to place our minds on the place we ultimately plan to be. In Philippians 3:20–21 Paul says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

What is filling you with anxiety right now? Put your focus back on heaven. Live knowing you are waiting for a Savior to rescue you, a Savior who has the power and is able to subject all things you are going through to himself. Don’t forget, God’s got you and God’s got it. Whatever “it” might be. He is sovereign over every detail and circumstance in your life.

Your circumstances are not outside of God’s purview. He sees it all and He will use it all to transform your lowly body into an eternally perfect creation. God is making all things new. On that day when we meet Him face to face, He will give us the reward, the goal, the prize of the upward calling that is found in Christ Jesus. Our perfection and our eternity will all be realized at the time when we see Him and our loved ones face to face.

Peace comes amidst overwhelming anxiety when we take our eyes off the earthly circumstances and put them on the eternal things. Your destination awaits you, live with your eyes fixed on it, and the overwhelming anxiety you feel will give way to the peace of God that passes all understanding.

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Kelly M. Williams
Kelly M. Williams

Kelly M. Williams is senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.