Shootings, terrorism, and political mayhem. It's no wonder the American Psychological Association reported that 24 percent of American adults say they are overwhelmed by anxiety. Thanks to cell phones, bad news bombards Americans via social media and news reports, interrupting our meals and our sleep. How do we find peace in such a chaotic world?
Max Lucado has experienced the anxiety created by society's 24/7 connections. As Senior Minister of Oak Hills Church (TX), Lucado has been offering his congregation practical and biblical tips for combatting anxiety. He summarizes his best advice in the pages of Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World. He writes, "No matter what you're going through--you can rest in the peace of God, which 'surpasses all understanding.'"
Consider the following six ways to battle anxiety in today's chaotic world, alongside hard-won wisdom from Max Lucado.
Rest in Jesus.
In times of stress and anxiety, we need to cast our fears at the feet of Christ, Lucado advises. "We rest in Him, find our nourishment in Him. His roof of grace protects us from storms of guilt. His walls of providence secure us from destructive winds. His fireplace warms us during the lonely winters of life." We need the warmth of this fire to survive tragedy. We can hold the hand of the One who will never, ever let go.
Let go of your control.
We all want to control our worlds, but Lucado recommends we let this fixation go. He describes a biblical concept called 'casting,' and describes how it can reduce stress. "Casting is an intentional act to relocate an object. Let this 'throwing' be your first response to bad news. As you sense anxiety welling up inside you, cast it in the direction of Christ. Do so specifically and immediately," writes Lucado. In 2 Corinthians we are also encouraged to "Cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God." We can harness our thoughts, by casting our cares on Christ, or we can hold tight to worries and fuel anxiety.
Lucado encourages us to not give in to our fears. "Resist the temptation to retreat and hunker down. This is the time for faith; the season for God-based hope. Trusting in the Lord will bring safety." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 backs up this advice. We are "hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
"When you gave your life to God, He took responsibility for you. He is your shepherd," Lucado reminds Christians.
You are not alone.
You are not alone today. Writes Lucado: "Avoid the quicksand that bears the marker 'God has left you!' Do not indulge this lie. If you do, your problem will be amplified by a sense of loneliness. It's one thing to face a challenge, but to face it all alone? Isolation creates a downward cycle of fret." God is not a mere spectator. He cares about you in the dark times and when things are going swimmingly in life.
Press on during tragedy.
When a gunman killed Sunday worshippers recently in a small Texas town, Lucado wrote an editorial for FoxNews.com regarding evil. "We aren't insulated. But neither are we intimidated. Jesus has a word or two about this brutal world. 'Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul (Matthew 10:28).'" The take away here is we can't allow the darkness of fear to cloud our light.
Soak in God's peace.
There's more encouraging advice on how to handle anxiety, and this time from the Apostle Paul. Paul tells followers that "The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians. 4:7) What does this mean for us today? We need to saturate our lives with prayer and scripture, believing that God is with us. Soaking in His promises leads to a peace Lucado describes this way: "He downloads the tranquility of the throne room into our world, resulting in an inexplicable calm. We should be worried, but we aren't. We should be upset, but we are comforted. The peace of God transcends all logic, scheming and efforts to explain it."
The next time anxiety knocks at your heart, thanks to chaotic politics, finances or relationships, remind your heart Who sits on the throne. "The ultimate solution for anxiety is trusting in the goodness of God," Lucado says. No matter the situation, God is more than able and more than willing to share His divine peace.