The Antidote for Anxiety
From the series Get Out of Your Head
As we look around our world, there’s much to be fearful of - so how do we avoid being overwhelmed with panic? In this message, guest teacher Jennie Allen continues sharing her series “Get Out of Your Head.” She unpacks how – even in financial uncertainty, health crises, political and social unrest – we can fight back against anxiety.
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About this series
Get Out of Your Head
What drives your thought life? Is it anxiety.. loneliness.. feeling like the world’s out to get you? Perhaps you’re really pessimistic or obsessed with being recognized. Whatever it is, do you feel trapped by it? Like no matter how hard you try, your mind still drifts back to these ideas? In this series, Jennie identifies 7 common thoughts that are actually toxic to our lives, and can derail our connection with God. Don’t miss how to break free from these dangerous mindsets - by wielding the power God’s already given us. Let’s learn how to fight back and win the war for our minds.More from this series
We are about to talk about anxiety and I know so many of you are fighting this so it matters. Let's go. Let's see what scripture has to say about it. Luke 12:4-7, “I tell you, my friends do not fear those who kill the body and after that have nothing more they can do, but I will warn you whom to fear, fear Him, who after He is killed has authority to cast into hell. Yes. I tell you fear Him!”
Guys, when God says do not fear anything in this world, it is because He has us. It is because nothing is going to come against you, even the enemy without God's permission. Some people have wrestled with this truth and, and I'm such a little theologian, like I loved seminary and I still love reading commentaries and books about theology because when I understand who God is, it really has truly shifted everything about me and everything about my fear and my parenting and my marriage.
It's just, it truly has invaded when you truly know God and He's in His rightful place. A.W. Tozer says: A thousand problems are solved all at once. So I believe that, and that's what I always want to preach is I want to preach God. I want to lift high God.
And I believe that fear that you feel will diminish. And when I think of the theology of this truth, that God has power over the devil, that bothers some people because they think: No, like this is if God had power, if God allowed this into my life, the suffering, this difficulty, whatever it is that you fear would happen and it happens, then how can God be a good God? And I'm telling you, you do not want an impotent God over suffering and evil. Like that idea that God isn't powerful over it is not comforting.
That's not actually helpful. So let's start with what's true, which is God has you. God has every circumstance that you face. God understands the moments, the fears that you're feeling, the doubts that you're feeling. He understands and knows about all of it and He's powerful over it.
However, there is real things that we are afraid of. I was with one of my good friends recently and she confessed that right before her wedding, two weeks before her wedding, she went through paralyzing fear that she was going to lose her future husband.
And then the weeks following, and she's only been married a few weeks, the weeks following, she wept as she sat across from me and told me that her fear hasn't gone away. So these precious weeks leading up to her wedding and following her wedding, her first few weeks in marriage, have been marked and tainted with an absolute demonic attack, I believe, of fear over this precious couple and it has just completely taken the joy out of those weeks of her marriage.
And she was saying, you know, it's making me grateful and all these positive things about it. And I hit the table and I said, “You listen to me right now.” I said, “Don't put words from God on something that's evil. This fear is not from God. This is evil. Yes, God might have allowed this to shape something about you, but girl, you fight it. This is the devil.” All fear is from the enemy and he is seeking to kill, steal and destroy.
And so this precious couple, I’m sitting there watching them and I'm watching her try to like make sense of it. And I'm like, “Girl, this is easy to make sense of. The enemy is coming for you. You are a power-house couple. God's glory is all over your lives together. And it was all over your ceremony. It was all over your engagement and the enemy is stealing all the joy out of it.”
So we've got to take this seriously and we've got to see this as enemy attack, that this fear that has invaded our culture has invaded our minds, invaded the background noise of our lives. We barely even notice it anymore. We're so afraid. It's just part of our thought process every single day. We've got to fight it. We've got to start noticing it. We got to call it out and we got to fight it.
So let's talk about how we fight this, because when I wrote about this in the book, we really came up with what are the weapons that God's given us, these powerful divine weapons that 2 Corinthians talks about, what are these divine weapons that God has given us?
And in this case, it's trust, right? It's, it's not that we can avoid the things we fear, you know, will something happen to my friend's husband one day? It will. I don't know what day they might be 90 but one day something will, we cannot completely guard our lives from the bad things not happening, right? Like that's not possible. That's not the goal in this world. We will have trouble, God says, so we cannot guard our lives and protect everything we love and just believe: Oh, God's never going to let anything bad happen to me.
You know godly people, bad things have happened to them. Some of you follow Jesus and love Him with all your heart. Bad things have happened to you. We follow Jesus. Bad things have happened to us. So, it's not that there's not real fears, it's that those fears are mitigated by this hope that is eternal.
And so Paul says it this way. He says, “my light and momentary trials.” Now the funny thing is when he says, my light and momentary trials, he's talking about being shipwrecked, nearly killed in prison, like the worst things on earth that can happen to you are happening to Paul.
And so he's speaking of these things as light and momentary. Why? Because he has a view of eternity that is so real and palpable to him. He knows he's in the first little opening scene of eternity, that this is just such a short and important part of his life, but he's not going to be derailed by the only power the enemy has, which is to right now, currently in this world, he still has some power. Now he doesn't have victorious power. He's not going to win in the end, but right now God allows the enemy to bring attack against us for a season knowing that that time will end and Revelation promises it.
There will be a time where he is cast and kept from the people of God and that suffering and death and darkness will no longer be a part of our story and a part of our lives because God will deal with it forever. And that time is coming. But in this time, there is a mercy of God that holds back his hand because at the time of justice, at the time of judgment, there are people that will perish. And so yes, we are aching to be with God one day, but we have work to do in the meantime and as long as history is still turning and the earth is still spinning that we have work to do here and Paul's mentality was, I'm not going to get distracted by the difficulty. I'm not going to live paralyzed by the fear that it will happen.
It will happen, like difficulty will happen. We won't be surprised by it, but I will live with hope in eternity. That I can deal with anything I deal with here and we talked about this verse before, but I love it so much. It's in Philippians and he says: to live is Christ and to die is gain. There is a hope in heaven and eternity that is bigger for Paul than any other thing. Any other thing in his life.
When I was preparing for this book, what I taught through was the book of Philippians. I taught through different verses and we looked at the mind and Paul was so single minded, he was so fixed on Jesus. There was such a clarity to his life, to his decisions, to who he loved and how he loved and what he spent his time doing. There was so much clarity to his life.
I mean, I found myself as I really deeply studied Paul, just envious of his certitude of his confidence, of his absolute possession by God of just spending his life well. And so this is the model that we have. You know, he, he even said it like: Follow me as I follow Christ. And so as we follow him, what we find is a single-mindedness that has provided this escape route from fear. It has provided a way out from fear because what grips those of us in fear is that we would lose something on earth. And what Paul knew was, I'm going to lose things on earth. I'm going to live like Christ, if I’m alive, and Christ lost his life. Christ lost friends, Christ was betrayed, I'm going to lose on earth. And that's why death is a gain because that's where everything is reconciled.
So now what does it look like to lay down our fear? What does it look like to have this kind of perspective, to be single-minded, to not fear the enemy, but to, to recognize that he's trying to mislead us. Right? That's what Luke's talking about is, Hey, don't, don't diminish the enemy. Like don't be afraid of death. Don't be afraid of sickness. Don't be afraid of suffering here. If you're gonna be afraid of something, be afraid of the One that can send you to hell. So he's saying make sure that's right. Like that's the only thing that can be taken from you is eternity. Everything else can be redeemed. It can be used for good. It can be worked into this eternal story, but make sure that thing is right. So let's do that right now.
My hope and prayer is that if you don't know God, that this'll be the time that you know Him.
And so if that's you and you're like, you know what? I'm afraid of everything, but I have not even thought about death and eternity. I want you to do that right now. I want you, I want to make sure that the only thing God says to fear, which is separation from Him forever, that that's taken care of for you. So let me tell you how simple it is. If you've never trusted Jesus Christ, this is what you do. You say: God, I need a Savior and I believe Your Son, Jesus Christ is it. I believe that He died for me. I believe that my sins are forgiven because of Him and I want to follow Him with my life. I believe He was raised from the dead and I want to be raised from the dead too. And God, I want to give my life to You while I'm here.
And that's how simple it is. That's what you pray. Rewind, do it right now in your car, wherever you are. And that is all that we have to do to be right with God, y'all. It is to trust in the blood of Jesus Christ. That's it. We're covered.
So now I want to speak to those of you that know Jesus, that have known Him for a long time and are paralyzed by fear. Do you believe? Do you believe this book that tells us that He has gone before us and is building a home for us? Do you believe that this is a story you're a part of? Do you believe that He is more powerful than every single thing you fear?
I told my friend, I said: You know what? I can't tell you that her husband's not going to die tomorrow. I can't. That's not something I can absolute with certainty promise you, but I can tell you I have lived long enough, and I have been through enough, and I have seen people I love go through enough that I can promise you this - on the day that something unthinkable happens, you will have more grace from God to deal with that than you can possibly imagine, right now. You don’t have that grace today, but on that day I have seen it again and again and again. He will give you everything you need to go through that on that day.
So we don't fear that. Not because it won't be hard, not because my dear friend that did just lose her husband is trying hard to just breathe and take care of her child every day. I'm not saying it's easy. I'm saying that it's possible to walk through the darkest nights when we have a hope that lasts forever and we have a God who not only is saying, Hey, hope in heaven. He’s saying, I will walk through this with you. I will be in it with you. I will provide things you can't even imagine on that day.
No, I don't understand why bad things still happen to good people. I don't have the answer for that. I can just tell you that I know there is a good God that's more powerful than all of it and that one day we will all understand. We may not understand here.
So how do we not fear, how do we not have anxiety? Well, we start by making sure our view of God is right. And that happens by knowing Him intimately and walking with Him regularly, knowing His Word, knowing who He is. And it starts also by feeding ourselves truths instead of lies. So many of the things we're afraid of aren't even true.
On this day, my friend was not being asked to deal with the death of her husband. It wasn't even true and yet it was paralyzing her on that day. So we have to start by fighting the lies on a given day. That's why in Philippians Paul writes: Think on things that are true. He tells us what to think about. He talks about all these beautiful attributes, noble, incredible attributes that we're supposed to focus on instead of lies. And one of the first things he says is that whatever is true, you think on these things.
So is it even true? We have “what if’d” ourselves to death. And so much of our fear is pretend. It's not even true. So on this one, I mean you guys, I know the last one is connection. We talked about the weapon against isolation is connection. That's a really tangible thing. You take somebody to coffee, the weapon to noise is stillness and time with Jesus. The weapon to this one is trust and y'all, this just takes fighting for belief and trust in God that we would fight for our faith, that we would prize it, that we would realize that waiting on God and trusting in God, it contains great reward.
Like there is a great reward in our faith, in our trust in Him. And as we trust more and more and we watch Him come through. That's what I've seen. Like at 40 something, that's where I am today that I wasn't, you know, at 23 is that I have just watched Him come through again and again and again. My trust has grown that I know I don't stand here trembling about what might happen to my kids. I don't stand here afraid of what might happen to my husband. Now if I think about it too long, I will - and I don't feed that. I don't give energy to that.
When I start to fear it, I stop it, I interrupt it, I redirect it. I don't give it energy. Why? Because why give something that dark, that hard, energy? When God is not asking me to face that today, why would I feed that? Why would I give that energy? One day, I might have to face that. In fact, I probably will. Somebody I love dearly, my husband, my kids, something will happen one day and I will have to face that, but I know on that day I will have what I need so I don't feed it today. I don't feed that fear.
So are you feeding fear? What fear are you feeding and how can you interrupt it? How can you use the weapons God's given you - the Word of God, the community around you, like how can you bring those things into it and help to build your trust to depend on Him more and to not let this thing take you out? Because fear is taking us out. It is. It is distracting us. It is derailing us. It is keeping us from being bold. It is keeping us from joy. It is keeping us from peace. It's derailing us and so we've got to fight it better.
So let's go with this idea of is it true. And what I want you to do is just write down some of the thoughts and I want you to find the thing that's worrying you the most, that's giving you the most anxiety. And I want you to work it through this grid. If you’ve read the book you know. And this grid has a few simple questions on, I can give them to you right now.
One of the questions is, is it true? Is that thing that you're worried about even true? And if it is - and some of you it is, right? I worked through this grid and the thing I was worried about the most was my son and he had just left for college and I was worried, you know, is he gonna make good decisions? Is he going to date girls I like?
And then somehow, you know, I worked through this thing that I was, you know, he, he somehow ends up in prison. You know, if I make these bad decisions, this is going to happen and this is going to happen. And somehow he's like in prison and it, is that even true? No. Like right now my son loves God and he's making good choices for the most part. And he's a great kid. Why am I so worried that he's going to derail his life? And it wasn't even true or real.
I'm not saying that he's perfect, I'm just saying it wasn't totally based on reality. But even if it was, let's say for you, the answer's yes, my son is in prison. There is still hope over that.
And you know, my joke is, I guess if he goes to prison, you know, we can go do prison ministry together. And I'm like my poor son, if he listens to this, he's going to kill me cause he's such a great kid.
But my point is there is redemption in all things like because of God, because of hope, because of eternity stretched out forever, because of the power of God to take things that are broken and turn them into things that are beautiful. That is the continued story of redemption and how God works. Then we have hope in all things. There's nothing that we don't have hope in because He works all things together for good. That is what scripture tells us.
So even if something about it is true, then the next question is what does God say about it? What does God's Word say about it? And you begin to just note things like: You know what? He is working all things together for good. Heaven is coming and I have a home with Him forever, you know? And you just start putting what's true.
And then the last question in this little grid is, are you going to believe God? That's the real question. And I think for a lot of us we can work through, you know, is it true or a lie and then you can put the truth on it. What's God's Word say, but then choosing to believe that truth on a daily basis, that's where he gets us, y'all. That's where we've got to choose better. We've got to put our foot down and say: No more. No more am I gonna dwell on this. No more am I going to feed this. No more am I going to give energy to this. And you bring your community and fast and you interrupt those thoughts and you stop the spiral because you can. Because at the point that that thought enters your mind, that fear enters your mind. You can confess it, you can confess it to God, you can confess it to people, and you can interrupt it.