By Michael Risley
In 2005, a fellow pastor and I flew to India and Nepal to encourage missionaries and to teach God’s Word to those they were serving. As our plane started to land in India, high winds caused the pilot to abort the landing at the last minute. He calmly explained our situation over the intercom and said we would circle around and then land. Well, that didn’t work either, and we had to abort the landing again.
Now the passengers on the plane were starting to understand that this was serious, and anxiety was growing on their faces and heard in their voices. The plane circled around to land a third time, but at the last moment the plane accelerated and sharply ascended away from the airfield.
Now people were praying out loud and crying as a cloud of panic and the possibility of death permeated the aircraft. At this point, the pilot said we would try one more time to land the plane and, if unsuccessful, we would fly to another airport.
As I fought to not give in to fear, I prayed for a safe landing. Also, knowing I might die, I reaffirmed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, and committed my life once again into the sovereign and good hands of my God.
The fourth attempt at landing the plane was successful, and as you can imagine, there was much relief and celebration.
This was definitely a time of anxiety.
Anxiety and worry have plagued many of us for as long as we can remember. There is always something: Coronavirus, health, family, money, housing, loneliness, the future, the past, our own sin… the fears go on and on.
But, what does God say about anxiety and worry? Basically, when you are anxious, you are telling God that you don’t think He can handle your problem! Instead, the Bible tells us, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7).
So how do you give your worries, anxieties, and cares to God?
1. Pray! In Philippians 4:6-7, we are commanded, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Prayer is the best way to give your anxieties to God and to exercise and demonstrate real faith in Him. Therefore, to eliminate worry and receive peace, ask God for help, and as the Scripture says, do it with a grateful heart.
Billy Graham writes, “Mankind has always been beset by worry, and the pressures of modern life have aggravated the problem. … Many of you are filled with a thousand anxieties. Bring them to Jesus Christ by faith. … I am learning in my own life, day by day, to keep my mind centered on Christ; the worries and anxieties and concerns of the world pass, and nothing but ‘perfect peace’ is left in the human heart.”
2. Focus on the truth, not the lies! A few verses after the passage above, God says to us, “… Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
One thing you and I can control is what we think. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you focus your mind on Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2); God’s Word – including His promises (2 Timothy 3:16); being thankful (Colossians 3:15); prayer (Romans 12:12); and the beauty of every good gift that God gives to you (James 1:17).
But be on alert! For the world, the flesh, and the devil will lie to you (John 8:44), and if you focus on the lies, you will become anxious and depressed. Because whatever you focus upon, increases! Feed your faith, and your fears will starve to death.
Please know of my love and prayers for you as you seek to obey God’s Word by not worrying, but living strong in your Christ-centered faith by praying and focusing on the truth.
If you’d like more resources to help you overcome your worries in this time, we invite you to check out our book Confident Living. It’s our thank-you gift for your gift to help share the peace of Christ with worried seniors worldwide. To learn more about this offer, please click here.