I am no stranger to anxiety. Honestly, I’ve battled this enemy since childhood.
I distinctly remember many nights as a young parent when worry and fear would grip my heart. I worried that I was being too hard or too easy on the kids. I worried about whether or not they’d grow up loving Jesus and wanting to serve Him. As they got older, I worried about their driving and the temptations they’d face in high school. The worst part was, on top of my worry, I felt guilty. I heard so many sermons on how worry was a sin. I didn’t want to worry. It just sort of attacked at random moments.
What I needed wasn’t guilt over my worry. I needed a plan to combat my worry!
Maybe it’s similar for you.
Many have lost jobs and are worried about putting food on the table.
Others are worried, wondering how on earth they will survive if school doesn’t start in the Fall.
Others are worried about the upcoming election.
Many are worried about racial tensions.
We wonder, what will normal look like in our future? Will life ever go back to the way it was pre-pandemic? How do we navigate life with peace and nurture a calm spirit in these chaotic times? On top of everything you might be wrestling with guilt, wondering, “Why can’t I trust God?”
What you need isn’t guilt over your worry. You need a plan to combat your worry!
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For my weakness becomes a portal for God’s power” (2 Corinthians 12:10). When I read those words, I realized that my anxiety was my weakness. My weakness could become a portal for God’s strength.
But the question is how? How can I use my worry to drive me to worship? How can you use your worry to drive you deeper into worship?
Pour out your heart in prayer and then praise Him. The apostle Paul gave us some of the best advice for managing our anxiety. Writing to his friends from prison, Paul wrote, “Do not 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 minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). When you feel anxious, turn towards the Lord. Not only is prayer good for your soul and mental health, it’s also good for your physical health. In a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular specialist, discovered that during times of prayer “the body’s metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down and breath becomes calmer and more regular”. It turns out science is proving what God has said all along. Praising God is good for your body, soul, and spirit.
Take a Worship Walk. Take a walk and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. The health benefits of walking are huge. Not only does walking trigger endorphins that raise your spirits and give you more energy, it curbs anxiety, helps you sleep better, and benefits your memory. “Walking for about 40 minutes three times a week increases the size of brain regions associated with memory and planning”. But don’t just walk. Worship while you walk. Praise God for the beauty of creation all around you. Grab your earphones and turn on some worship music. Let the music prompt your praise. The combination of walking and worship will help bring peace to your mind that’s unparalleled.
Sing. Yup, you read that right. Bust out some tunes. “Singing is known to release endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical that makes you feel uplifted and happy. In addition, scientists have identified a tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus, which responds to the frequencies created by singing. The response creates an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of what the singing sounds like.” The next time you feel overwhelmed by the news about the coronavirus, unleash your inner rock star and bust out a melody.
By now you’ve probably seen the video that’s gone viral on the internet about the Italians singing from their balconies while being quarantined. What a brilliant idea! And, a great way to encourage your neighbors.
Stay Connected. Even though social distancing is recommended, you can connect regularly with friends and loved ones. Utilize Facetime or Skype. If you miss having coffee dates with friends, call them and drink coffee while you chat. Check in with each other and offer to pray for one another. Scripture reminds us to “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).
Isolation often increases feelings of anxiety and depression, so make the effort to stay connected even if it looks different than usual.
Memorize Emergency Verses. Every home I know has an emergency kit. The kit includes things you might need in a medical emergency: Band-Aids, antiseptic ointment, aspirin or other pain relievers. Why not develop a Bible verse emergency kit? In your kit you will have favorite passages on index cards. You might include Psalm 91, or Psalm 46, or Philippians 4:4-9. Try to memorize these verses. Even if you can’t memorize them keep them in your purse or backpack. When anxiety strikes, go to your emergency verses and recite them. By taking charge of your thoughts and directing them towards scripture you will be able to counter anxiety, worry, and fear.
As I have faithfully put these practices into place, God has poured peace into my heart! He will do the same for you. When worry attacks, don’t let guilt pummel you. Instead, let your weakness become a portal for God’s strength! Turn your panic into praise, and peace will follow!
 Prevention. April 2020, 36-37