Life is filled with uncertainty, isn’t it? We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future or if we’ll be prepared for it. If we let ourselves, there are countless things to worry about—jobs, finances, children, marriage, health, relationships, etc. Then add to that all the what-ifs of life. We don’t even need a current stressful situation in order to worry—we can borrow from the future and carry anxiety for what may or may never happen.
Are you burdened with anxiety? I don’t mean the occasional situation that is a legitimate cause for immediate stress, like Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). What I’m talking about is a lifestyle of anxiety. It may have started with some justifiable reasons for feeling stress, but now it’s become a constant companion, hovering over you like a cloud.
This kind of worry is a thief that steals peace and contentment. If we don’t learn how to handle it, Satan can gain a foothold and inject even more anxious thoughts into our minds until we are caught in an endless cycle of worry. Left unchecked, the stress may even begin to affect our health.
This is not what God desires for His children, and He has made every provision for us to live in contentment and peace. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he learned to be content in whatever circumstance he was facing, and the power to do so came through Christ, who strengthened him (v. 13). If our confidence is found in Christ, we will not be swayed by our circumstances. True contentment is based on a Person, and not on what’s going on around us.
Many Christians believe that prayer is the solution because Paul tells us not to be anxious but to pray about everything (Phil. 4:6). But I think that sometimes, in our prayers, we simply want God to cut off the bitter fruit of anxiety (the feeling) without digging up the root of the problem. However, if we know the source of our worry, we’ll discover the key to overcoming it.
I believe there are three roots of anxiety that feed into our worry. The first root is fear, and the key to overcoming it is faith in God’s Word. Fear is often the first reaction to a stressful situation. It might be dread of what could happen in the future or uncertainty about our ability to handle the current situation. Whatever the cause of our fear, the problem is our focus. That’s why it’s so important to let God’s Word frame every situation.
Whatever the cause of our fear, the problem is our focus.
Our circumstances may seem hopeless, but according to Romans 15:4, whatever has been recorded in Scripture has been written that we might have hope. On one occasion, when the disciples were faced with something seemingly impossible, Jesus said, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). The Word of God is filled with examples, promises, commandments, and principles that reveal our Lord is bigger than any problem we may encounter.
The second root of anxiety is doubt, and the key to contentment is trust in God’s ways. Sometimes we know in our minds that the Lord is capable of dealing with our need, but we’re just not sure He will. Although we acknowledge His limitless power, He doesn’t seem to be doing anything to deliver us or guide us through the situation. How many times have we fretted in prayer, saying, “Lord, time’s running out,” as if He were late? We’d readily trust God if He jumped the first time we called and did exactly as we asked, but He’s the one in charge—not us. True contentment comes when we’re able to lay our burden at His feet, trusting in His plans and perfect timing (Prov. 3:5-6). After all, He loves us more than we can know.
True contentment comes when we’re able to lay our burden at His feet
The third root is control, and the key to overcoming it is surrender to God’s will. When things are going well, there’s a sense of security. But if something upsets the balance, we immediately feel life spinning out of control. In reality, we never were in charge. Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” That includes all the details of our lives. When we trust in His goodness and love, surrendering to His will and letting go of our desire to control, then we’ll feel the contentment that comes with knowing we are safely held in His hands, no matter what conditions rage around us.
Peace and contentment can become a reality in your life. It has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with God. In the midst of storms, His peace is like a shelter around you, guarding your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7). Nothing comes your way without His permission, and if He’s allowed something difficult or painful, you can be sure that He will use it to strengthen your faith and build your character. He desires to give you peace in every circumstance.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. We are so grateful for your interest and prayers for In Touch Ministries. We need one another, both to carry out the Great Commission and for mutual encouragement. Please accept the enclosed bookmark as a small token of gratitude for the way you have blessed us.