Defeating the Dragon of Anxiety
In the C. S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia book, The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” the naughty boy Eustace took on the form of a dragon. The dragon form expressed his inner nature of selfishness. Try as he may, he could not extract the dragon skin from his body. It was only with the help of Aslan (the massive lion Christ-Figure) that he was able to painfully free himself from the dragon. We all suffer from dragons in our own lives and we need the help of Christ to be free of them. One such dragon many suffer with is anxiety. Anxiety in all its forms can control a person’s life. We’ve all been under its control, at least temporarily, and for many it is an ongoing struggle. Jesus offers help in his word for those who suffer. It involves a three step process I call, relax – release – rejoice.
When anxiety gets a grip on a person’s heart it creates a stormy sea of tension, desire and nervousness. It can seem uncontrollable, which fuels the flames of greater anxiety. What we need is calm and peace. We need to relax. But growing anxiety creates an environment that makes relaxing almost impossible. We can find the calm we need by claiming certain promises of God. We can use Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Jesus can calm the stormy sea of our hearts as we claim this promise. When we meditate on the reality that God is God, and all he is doing in the world and our lives is for his glory, we can find the peace we need.
Another promise to add to this is Romans 8:31-32, “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Paul asks a series of questions. He doesn’t answer them because the answer comes in the asking of these questions. We know that God is for us because he gave Jesus to save us. If he did the greatest thing for us by meeting our greatest need, he will certainly meed any other great but lesser need. He will calm our anxiety as we trust him.
Once we begin to relax, we can release this anxiety to God or it will quickly return. Once again we need promises from God’s word to help us. Here we can claim 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” God is at work in our lives no matter what happens. He cares for us. We can release our anxiety to him. The picture here is that we have this huge burden on our backs; we are buckling under the weight and about to fall when we roll the burden onto the back of Jesus. He is strong enough to easily take it if we turn it loose, if we release it. We do that by prayer (Philippians 4:6-7), “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your minds in Christ Jesus.”
As we find the calm and release we need we can rejoice in God’s power and love. Rejoicing itself helps dissipate anxiety. Paul commands us in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.” We are to rejoice in the Lord. We rejoice in who he is and all he’s done for us. He is the object of our joy. We can rejoice in the Lord even if the anxiety is not lifting as much or as rapidly as we desire. We read in James 1: 2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance have its full work, that you may be mature and complete lacking nothing.”
Anxiety can cripple our lives and make us miserable. It can render us ineffective in the work of God. God has help for us though. We claim his promises by praying them. I encourage you to commit to memory the promises I have given to you. Claim and pray the promises of God to relax, release and rejoice. As you make your way through this process it make take time for the anxiety to lift, but if you stick with it, the Lord will come to you in your need.