Summary: How God helps us gain victory over fears, worries, and anxiety.
We are continuing in our series “Victory in Jesus.” The Bible promises us that through Jesus we have victory over sin and the power of evil. The Bible also recognizes that even though we have already been given victory we still struggle with temptation and desires of the flesh, and evil still creeps into our life. We began our series looking at why this is the case, it is because we haven’t changed the programming in our mind. We lose the battle for our thoughts. In order to achieve victory over sin and evil we must allow God to help us gain control over what we think. By God’s strength we can control the negative influences we put into our minds, the lies of our culture, and the lies of the devil, and to replace it with the truth of God’s promises. As Paul tells us, we should “set our minds on things above”. We fill our minds with the good things of God. The more we focus on our relationship with God and accept the truth of his promises, our minds get filled with more of Him and we find that we gain victory over temptation and sin because those attacks don’t even make it into our thoughts.
This week we look at an evil which plagues many people including Christians, anxiety including worry and irrational fear, which in extreme cases can lead to panic or anxiety attacks, and phobias. These anxieties can actually entrap us preventing us from living a truly free life, a life like God wants us to have. You become a slave to your fears. In my research I discovered that anxiety disorders have become the number one mental health problem in America for woman, and the number two mental health problem for men in America behind alcoholism and some professionals speculate anxiety or fears might be a contributing factor to alcoholism. Mental health experts say it is a growing problem because we are under so much stress, much of which is due to our fast paced lifestyles. While stress doesn’t cause anxiety it is a contributing factor.
Anxiety and fear are closely related. A fear is a reaction to something specific, if I see a snake next to me I might freak out, that’s fear. Anxiety on the other hand is like fear only it doesn’t have a specific cause, it lacks an object. I might be in a situation where I begin to have the same feelings of fear, but I don’t know where it is coming from. Fear in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Fear is the body’s natural response when we are threatened. When we feel fear or become anxious it is a warning system for our body. We become more aware of our surroundings, our adrenaline gets pumping, we go into fight or flight mode. Our bodies are trying to tell us something is wrong in order to protect us. Without our bodies normal fear response we could put ourselves in danger. If a lion walked into the sanctuary just now our fear and anxiety level would probably raise and with good reason because it is sending the message to our body to get out of there. Without this mechanism we could get ourselves in trouble. Have you ever watched those home videos shows where people in national parks walk right up to wild animals (moose, bears) to get a better picture, or worst of all to feed them. They lack a healthy sense of fear. However while fear is a God given gift it can sometimes go overboard from a good survival mechanism to an irrational phobia, anxiety which immobilizes us and harms our everyday living.
Personally, I have two fears, which I would consider to be irrational, although not quite a phobia, the fear of snakes and heights. On one occasion two years ago we went to Toronto and we decided to go up to the top of the sky tower. At the top they have a viewing platform, where you can walk out on the Plexiglas looking straight down 400 ft. to the ground. The Plexiglas was probably a foot thick, and thousands if not millions of people had walked over and looked down without incident. Amy just walked right out on it, but I couldn’t do it. I took a gingerly step onto the edge and slowly made my way out on the glass. My heart was beating faster my palms sweaty but I finally got out on the glass and looked down. My fear was irrational because I knew in my mind the glass would hold me, but something within me just freaks out. A person with a phobia for heights would have broke out in a cold sweat even thinking about going up in the tower.