‘The root of anxiety is failure to trust all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus’ – John Piper
Anxiety is an extremely human emotion because it involves being faced with uncertainty about the present and future as well as being prone to high-stress situations and the triggers that come with them. Therefore, we as human beings can sometimes relate to being paralysed with worry, uneasiness, fear and even dread. Anxiety can also be the trauma response to circumstances of our past. So, if our past, present and future have the potential to make us primed for anxiety, the question is how can we as believers trust God amid all our anxiety? This is the question this article seeks to answer by building a foundation of the peaceful nature of God and his kingdom and how it serves practically as the antithesis of our anxiety. We will also explore the role our trust in God and His Kingdom must play in it. It is my prayer that you will be equipped to trust God amid anxiety as you read this article in Jesus’ name.
Exchange anxiety for peace
Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ JesusPhilippians 4:7
Let’s build a foundation by first understanding the nature of God and His Kingdom. Paul asserts that the ‘Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and Joy (Romans 14:17). He also characterised peace as a fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22). This peace is a state of tranquillity, rest and calm for the soul. It’s what Paul tells the believers to allow to guard their hearts, He also tells us how we ought to do that as believers through prayer, supplications and letting our requests known to God. Being anxious for nothing is imperative in this verse but it is impossible without trust because it doesn’t tell us that we would have nothing to be anxious about. If we go to God with all of our reasons for anxiety and we commune with him through it he can exchange it for his peace. The beauty of having a relationship with God is we get to experience His nature and Kingdom namely peace when it goes against everything we should be experiencing because of our experiences this is why God’s peace is said to surpasses understanding.
Sleeping in the storm
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:35-41
Much like the different storms we face in life, the storm made the disciples anxious. Our storm could be a crisis in our relationships, career, faith, health and overall well-being. When there’s conflict in those areas the human response which Jesus rebuked his disciples for is to be anxious. Jesus rebuking them for their lack of faith means their anxiety was rooted in their lack of trust in God. They questioned Jesus on how he could be asleep, and he questioned them on their lack of faith. The reason why Jesus wasn’t a product of his circumstance was because of His trust in the nature and Kingdom of God. To be in a state of sleep is to mirror the tranquil state of rest and quiet of God and His Kingdom and that’s what trust gives us a license to do when we should be anxious.
What does trust look like?
1. Concluding that the good, bad and ugly circumstances life presents you are working for your good and seizing the opportunity they present, to be conformed into the image of God. If we have the right attitude, we will find the hardest trials often mature us in godly character. (Romans 8:28-29; James 1:2-4)
2. Trusting that the cross of Jesus Christ heals the wounds of your past. The anxiety induced by the past is not exempt from what Jesus’ death and resurrection heals, it might require vulnerability on our part but that vulnerability is what’s necessary for the building blocks of intimacy which is rooted in trust. David’s Psalms are an amazing picture of this. (Psalm 43,22 and 51)
3. Casting all of your cares (worries, anxieties, fears) unto God because you know that He cares for you. This trust is rooted in God’s caring nature as a loving Father and it allows you to prioritise seeking God’s kingdom and nature resolving that He will look after you in the present and future. (1 Peter 5:7), (Matthew 6:28-34)
4. Living by faith in God and not by sight, if we live by sight then the things we experience have great bearing on our well-being, but if we live by faith entrust that bearing to God. We can only live by faith and not sight if we rest in God’s sovereignty. (2 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Corinthians 4:18)
5. Leaning on the community of believers around you to help share your burden and encourage your faith. This could be a brother or sister in Christ or a mentor and leader that can listen you, intercede for you and encourage you with truth. (Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:24-24; Proverbs 27:17)
As human beings living in a fallen world life continues to give us reasons to be anxious and to give into worry and fear, but we serve a God whose nature and Kingdom are in direct opposition to anxiety because He is our peace. Our capacity to embody his peace amid anxiety-riddled circumstances hinges on our trust in Him. Our trust is facilitated by our awareness which is enriched by communing with God through our prayer, supplications and thanksgiving. In communion, we embody Christ and follow in his footsteps which means we can trust God to bring peace to the anxious storms of our lives.