This is blog 3 of The United States of Anxiety series. We are diving deep into the mental illness that affects nearly everyone. If you’re new to the series, you can read the first 2 blogs in the series…
I wrote about my personal experiences with anxiety and how to use prayer to calm it. Before we dive into how to face anxiety with a new perspective, I want to give thanks. Thank you for allowing me to be transparent and vulnerable and for what I have been going through.
I am grateful to have this platform to talk about something very personal to me.
In the past blogs, we have been talking about anxiety from a spiritual perspective. I told you that anxiety is a very complicated subject that needs to be dealt with holistically–looking at the big picture.
Anxiety can be…
And it is always spiritual.
I can’t write about it from all those perspectives. But I can write about the spiritual perspective, looking at your situation from a new perspective.
Rejoice, Even When It’s Hard
The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians. One of Paul’s goals was to go to Rome to preach the Gospel. He knew that if he could reach the leaders in Rome, the Gospel would spread. There was commerce in Rome. They had a lot of power and influence on the world.
There was one problem… He made it to Rome, but he was a prisoner. He was locked up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to a Roman guard. He was on trial, waiting month after month for his death.
If there was anybody that was justified to be filled with anxiety, it was the Apostle Paul.
But what did he have to say about it?
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Rejoicing can be hard, especially under certain circumstances.
Should we rejoice…
- When our spouse lies to us?
- When we lose our job and can’t pay our rent/mortgage?
- When our boyfriend cheats or when our friends hurt us?
- When we see our children making horrible decisions?
- When we keep trying to get pregnant and can’t?
- When the anxiety is so real that we can’t sleep at night?
- When we are physically exhausted BUT our brains just keep going over a certain situation?
Sometimes it feels impossible to rejoice. It feels impossible to stay positive.
Remember Paul’s words…
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 4:4-7
How could Paul rejoice when he was locked up and waiting for judgment? It’s all about A NEW PERSPECTIVE.
Looking at Anxiety Through a New Perspective
What is perspective? It’s how you view something. Two different people can see the same thing, and they see it from two different perspectives. The word perceive in Latin means to “look through.”
I know we are struggling with anxiety, but I want to talk about having a new perspective.
We all go through difficult situations. We can react, and…
- Have anxiety
- Experience depression
- Feel hopeless
- Can’t think or function
This is a negative perspective. But what did the Apostle Paul do when faced with those situations? He didn’t minimize it. He looked at his difficult situation from a new perspective. He looked at it from the perspective of praise.
Through a perspective of praise, this is what the Apostle Paul said…
- “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”–Philippians 1:12-13
You can look at a situation and say, “This is really bad. I am never getting out of this. I can’t stand it.” Or you can have a new perspective of praise.
“God, now that you have given me eyes to see my situation this way. Now I know that you are in it. You are all over it. You’re working it out for my good, and it served to advance your kingdom!”
In the Face of Death, a New Perspective of Praise
This isn’t the first time that Paul was thrown in prison. Read at Acts 16. I am sure that there were countless other times he suffered in jail but not recorded.
Paul and Silas headed to visit some friends at their home church.
While traveling, they ran into a girl who was possessed by an evil spirit. They cast the evil spirit out of the girl. But when they did, a riot broke out. Paul and Silas were beaten by the crowd and arrested.
- “The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrate ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.”–Acts 16:22
Likely you haven’t been stripped of your clothes and beaten with rods. But I know that some of you have been stripped of your confidence in God. Your faith has been stripped because of what you went through or what you are going through right now. You’re trying to have faith, but it’s hard to pray or open your Bible. You may be beaten down with the weight of anxiety. And you’re doing everything you can to hold onto your faith. But the anxiety feels so real that you just can’t go through it any longer.
I acknowledge your pain. Paul and Silas were doing what they believed was the right thing. Yet they were beaten and tossed in jail.
Can you guess what these guys did? They changed to a new perspective.
Instead of moping and complaining about it, they made the decision to have a WORSHIP NIGHT!
And how were they able to do that? By having a NEW PERSPECTIVE.
When the COVID pandemic hit, I was having a really hard time with my anxiety.
- My mind would race with radical thoughts.
- My body would begin to tense up.
- My heart would begin to race.
- My chest would tighten up.
- My breathing would become more shallow.
- I would go from pacing around a room to being entirely laid out on the floor.
I knew the situation was difficult, but I decided to focus on what was good in my life. Instead of focusing on the anxiety, I began to focus my mind on God.
I focused on how faithful he has been in my life and helped me get out of the worst situations. I changed to a new perspective of God.
- I focused on my wife, Jenna, and how much she loves me and how much I deeply love her.
- I focused on my kids, how they were healthy and growing.
- I focused on the incredible relationships I have because of God.
Changing to a New Perspective So You Can Heal
You may have issues, and they’re real! But don’t forget to look at the whole picture, to have a new perspective.
- Do you have a family? Perhaps you do.
- Do you have friends? Perhaps you do.
- Do you have your health? Perhaps you do.
Do you have a mustard seed of faith? Because the Bible says that you can move mountains if that is the kind of faith you have!
Praise God for who he is. This is the kind of new perspective I want you to take on.
When I think about my struggles with anxiety and how it served to advance the Gospel, it amazes me.
What I went through and still experience is actually helping somebody else.
If my calling is to…
- Help people BE more like Jesus
- DO what Jesus did
- HAVE the life He promised
… And all that comes with this anxiety for me to tell others about the hope, grace, and love that Jesus offers, then I accept it!
There is a purpose for my pain.
There is a purpose connected to my disappointment.
There is a purpose connected to my heartache.
You may not see it right away, but what you are going through now has a purpose. It may be a ministry to serve someone else later because you are experiencing the grace of God to help you get through it.
Paul and Silas were singing hymns and worshiping God for who he was, not just for what he might do. And in the middle of their praise, the ground began to shake, and the prison doors opened. Their chains became loose.
Sometimes the key that unlocks your miracle is the praise you give God for who he is!
Praise him in the middle of your pain, in the middle of your storm.
Whether he breaks you out of your mess or not, praise him. Remember, it is all about A NEW PERSPECTIVE.
“Lord Jesus, we will praise you when we feel you close and when we don’t. We will praise you when we’re doing good financially and when we’re not. We will praise you when our health is good and when it’s not.
“We know God, that what is happening to us eventually, by faith, will serve to advance the Gospel! God, while we wait, we will praise you! You are good! Yes, Lord, you are good!”