Keeping Anxiety in Check

overcome anxiety

3 Insights from King David

If you don’t get a handle on your anxiety, it’s going to eat you alive.

Especially in a season like this.

Just when it seems like the world is settling down, more chaos and turmoil and division erupt. Like clockwork. The solution to your anxiety is not waiting for things to calm down. We all need something sooner, and something more reliable than that.

Last week I drove out onto the Santa Cruz Pier with my family. We parked at the end and walked around a bit. As always, the sea lions caught our attention. My wife happens to love watching those funny animals do their thing. While we were watching, a big brawl broke out. It was like a turf war between two of the sea lionsone little one and one big one. As you might imagine, the big one thought he was king of the beam. Just above the water, this prince was perched proudly. He was blocking the way between groups, and nobody was allowed to pass. Of course, the inexperienced little lion wanted to see if he could overpower the older, bigger brute. No such luck. Until all of a sudden he did. The old guy was stunned. The little guy gloated, and then jumped into the water like a mic drop. It was legendary.

As I watched that duel, I was reminded of how so many times I secretly just want to be the Alpha. I want to be in control. I want to be the master of my fate, the captain of my soul. And when it doesn’t work I get anxious. I may not always show it, but inside I’m scheming, squirming, and sometimes screaming.

Where does that come from, and how do I make it go away?

King David understood this dilemma all too well. He wrote:

“Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. Israel, put your hope in the Lord—now and always.” —Psalm 131:1–3

That short passage shows us the source of our anxiety and the solution to it.

1. The Source: It’s trying to be the Alpha. It’s trying to be in control of things that are out of your control.

David said, “my heart is not proud.” He was under no illusion that he was in control, and so he released that facade and embraced the humility of living under the power and authority of God, who is completely capable of directing our lives and bringing everything together.

Got any areas of your life that you keep trying to control? It may be time to let go.

2. The Solution. David teaches us three tactics for overcoming anxiety and living at peace:

Remember your limitations.

Psalm 131:1 says, “I don’t concern myself with matters too great.” At some point, you have to admit your inability to control or directly impact certain circumstances.

Release your burdens.

Psalm 131:2 says, “I have calmed and quieted myself.” When you’re in the middle of the storm, there’s only one way to calm yourself. And that is to tap into the power of the One who can get you through. Tell him your fears, lay out your troubles before him and ask him to help. Then relax and wait and watch.

Redirect your hope.

Psalm 131:3 says, “Put your hope in the Lord.” That means trusting in things that won’t change. That means putting your expectations in the character and track record of your Creator. The more you focus on who God is and how he comes through, the less you will feel the need to control. Your anxiety—and your blood pressure—will decrease significantly.

If you’re struggling today with pressure, disappointment, anger or anxiety—here are 2 questions to help you move into a better place:

What in your world is making you uncomfortable and why?

How can you rest more in God’s ability right now?

Today when you get that anxious feeling, pause for just a few seconds and reflect on why you’re feeling that way, and intentionally shift your focus to how God can become your hope.

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This article originally appeared on GabeKolstad.com and is reposted here by permission.