When difficult circumstances arise, what is your first response? Do you go to God, trusting He will use this trial for something of purpose, or do you go straight to worry, sorrow or fear? Sadly, in most circumstances, my first instinct when something tragic happens is not trusting God’s sovereignty enough to know He is using it for my benefit, growth or good. I don’t want hard. I don’t want pain. I don’t want unpredictability. I don’t want to worry. Instead, I want easy. I want certainty. I want my way.
Do I not respect God enough to trust Him with my circumstances? Do I not have the faith in Him that He can work through a situation I deem unworkable?
When I choose to focus on all that may be wrong with my circumstances, I become incredibly anxious. I run a million scenarios through my head, each leading me down a spiral of increasing doom. I worry and fixate on all that is wrong and clearly dismiss all that God has, and is currently, doing in my life.
I always viewed anxiety as something acceptable to struggle with. I categorized anxiety as just a “part of my personality,” and I didn’t view it as a “serious sin” like stealing or lying. In fact, anxiety can often stem from a root of pride. When misfortune arises, it causes fear that my life is drifting from what I wanted it to be. There are some plans that I don’t want anyone, sadly, even God, to disrupt. This anxiety can lead to another act of pride: seeking to control my situation and desiring that I alone need to solve it.
Anxiety is allowing the lies of the Enemy to overtake the truth that God has provided us with. Anxiety is initiated when we worry that pain, heartache and suffering will cause us harm, not strengthen us. Anxiety is caused by thinking that anything but the plan we had for our lives is unfair, untouchable and unacceptable. Anxiety is not trusting God enough to help us maneuver through this struggle with His, and other’s help.
Anxiety and fear can isolate us. It is a tactic that Satan likes to use on us to get our mindset so focused on what is wrong, could go wrong or is only ours to solve, that we think negative thoughts alone will solve the issue. Matthew 6:27 states: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” As much as I’ve worried about my circumstances, it has never benefited my health in any way. In fact, anxiety has often caused many health implications, from tight muscles to heart palpitations. Anxiety has hindered my productivity, caused isolation, increased my ability to persevere and limited my energy.
I have always found consolation in the verse 26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Did you know that several species of birds do not store up food at all, they simply go out each day and find the food they need? The birds aren’t concerned with if God will provide. They don’t worry how they’ll get their food. They are simply content with being in the moment and not looking to the past or future of what has or could occur. If the God of the universe can provide the necessary food each day for every individual tiny bird, He too cares deeply for your needs and will work through each individual aspect of your life for your benefit.
A life how we planned it may leave us worried that we can’t always choose what will occur, but if we did have the control we desired, our lives wouldn’t become the fullest potential that God desires. God has so much higher aspirations for our lives that we could ever have anticipated for our own. He knows just the right timing to intertwine a hardship, that we thought was hurting us, to grow us even deeper, helping us to become a stronger instrument for eternal glory.
Joseph encountered many hardships and the life God wrote for him was totally different than what Joseph would have desired for himself. I can imagine looking back, Joseph could see how God used each tragedy, hardship and struggle to transform his character. When Joseph was taken away from his family and was rejected by his brothers, I can imagine he became angry, hurt and anxious. The life he planned for himself was destroyed. The pain his brothers inflicted on him was unfair. Although, in time Joseph still sought forgiveness, I think because he knew how his character was changed because of his circumstances. Joseph could see how God worked through every tiny detail of his life, even when it wasn’t something he would have planned. Even amid the difficulty he still could choose to say: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).
When anxiety starts to feed into your mind, causing you unrest and stress, remember that the God who allowed this circumstance into your life will help you through this. It may not be how you pictured your life. It may not go in accordance with your plan. It may cause pain. It may be hard. Difficulty produces character when we choose to persevere through our situations, relying on God for strength. We don’t need to solve our problems on our own. We don’t need to stress about how to fix what isn’t going right. We can entrust it to God, the One who is in control of all things. He is an almighty God, and capable of all things in His perfect timing. Nothing can thwart His plan. Nothing can hinder His power.
Release your anxiety to Him, knowing He is more than able. He is walking beside you, fighting this battle for you. You are not alone. You are not meant to carry the burden of this weight, He desires to bear it for you. Worry is a weight God never intended you to carry, give it to Him, He is the one who best knows how to help. The God who intricately created you before you were born, is more than capable to provide just what you need to help you through each trial.