“The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). God promises us His peace, but how do we bridge the gap when fear and anxiety try to overtake our minds and hearts?
Genesis 21:9-21 provides us with five steps to alleviate anxiety. Abraham’s wife/slave Hagar and their son Ishmael were disinherited, left to fend for themselves, wandering in the wilderness. When the water was gone, Hagar placed her son under the shade and walked away, unable to watch him die. It’s no surprise Hagar became distraught. The angel of God gave Hagar five ways to lessen her anxiety.
First, He asks her, “What is the matter?” God was concerned about what was troubling her. He asks her the question because He wants her to become aware of what’s in her heart. Awareness is the first step toward healing. God wanted Hagar to acknowledge her fear. Likewise, God wants us to pay attention to what’s going on inside of us. Sometimes I know something is off, or I’m physically experiencing stress, but until I verbalize what’s going on, my anxiety is elusive.
Secondly, the angel encourages Hagar to not be afraid because God heard her son’s cry. He gave her assurance that He would take care of them by showing her that He knew what was going on. She could trust that God’s got this. When our focus is on the overwhelming situation, anxiety comes in. Keep your eyes locked on the God who sees, knows, and cares about you.
Thirdly, God not only instructs Hagar to get her son, but He also provides a promise to encourage her heart. Doing the next right thing, instead of wallowing in worry, helps relieve anxiety. Feast on God’s promises. God also opened her eyes to see a well of water so she could give her son a drink. When you become anxious, ask God to show you His provision. Lastly, “God was with the boy as he grew up.” Knowing God is with me and that I’m not alone, gives me courage.
The next time you experience anxiety: discern what is troubling you, keep your gaze and trust on God - not on the situation, do something, look for God’s provision, and receive comfort and courage from God’s promises and presence.
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow – only today of its strength.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Which of these steps do you need to apply to reduce anxiety?