At one point in the life of Jesus, he spoke to a group of people and noticed despair in their eyes and said, “do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He recognized something that few of us notice.
Trouble isn’t something that people find on the outside, it is something they allow to form on the inside. Many try to escape conflict, hurt, and trouble by running away, hiding, freaking out, and isolating themselves. The problem is that they use these and other techniques but can never get away from the trouble because it is inside of them. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Why would God give us the capability to feel fear and then say “do not be afraid”? Why would he give us the opportunity to feel worry and anxiety and then direct us to not feel these emotions?
“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 your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9
ALL emotions are God-given and adaptive, in that a person who feels is healthy and is encouraged to pursue righteous or good living. But all emotions can be misused to become maladaptive, which is hurtful, unhealthy, and leads to bondage and dysfunctional living.
For instance, most people would rather feel happy versus anxious. I’ve never had anyone come into my office complaining about too much happiness in their life. “I’ve got too much joy. Too much peace.” So, could happiness be maladaptive? Have you ever noticed people who are bubbly with joy ALL the time? It just seems so fake and unreal. They seem happy during sad events. I have even observed people who giggle when talking about a sad event. They are not very congruent with their emotions and the events of their life. So even happiness can be maladaptive.
If feeling happiness can be unhealthy, can anxiety be adaptive and healthy? Fear and worry can be an emotion that is warning us about something that needs addressed. If a person faces their concerns and works to correct whatever it is that needs adjusted, their anxiety and fear are actually working for them.
However, anxiety can also lead people to paralysis and therefore keep them immobile and isolated. How do you correct the maladaptive versions of anxiety, fear, anger, worry, and hurt? In the Philippians verses, we are encouraged to recognize and face our anxiety by praying and by renewing our mind. If you have a thought that creates anxiety, begin thinking about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. You will find that what you choose to think about will help fade an unwanted emotion into something more peaceful. Keep putting this technique into practice and peace will be much more available. The difference between belief in God and faith in God is what you put into action.
Your reading of this blog may actually be an effort on your part to believing that God will finally speak relief to your soul. I would say that’s exactly what God wants to do!
I trust this article stimulates a passion in you to act on your belief.
There are more people who find peace than who find despair, because peace can be given to you regardless of your surroundings.
Practice focusing your mind on the thoughts you believe will create more freedom and peace in your life. Peace comes from within you, not outside.