At some point in life, everyone will experience an underlying, lurking emotion called anxiety. Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
As we go forth conquering tasks day in and day out, the management and micromanagement of life’s events can become drudgery or weight. In the flesh, this proves challenging and can create a storm within. Perhaps you are already experiencing this. Some people are plunged in on an even deeper level, engulfed in a kind of anxiety that grips the heart and cripples the will to strive.
We all carry our crosses, but it’s not the cross we should focus on. If we keep our focus on our personal cross, it will hinder our personal walk, private and public. So how does one live in the realm of real, onset anxiety? By taking every thought captive.
Taking every thought captive is personal. It will take self-discipline. You must decide which voice is your reason. It’s like the old relic toons, the devil resting on one shoulder, an angel on the other. Resist your hindering thoughts and gain control over what you’re thinking.
In return, you gain control over your reactions to life. Turn your thoughts over to God and set your affections, your emotions, on things above. Indeed, it will take work to take every thought captive each time they pop into your mind, but it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.
You may feel an impending doom that awakens the deepest anxieties and uncertainties. Maybe you’ve reached a season of new worries. Life changes are a given, and many are untimely, so we must be prepared to take on and accept the tides. As you learn to embrace a new normal, remember to put on the whole armor of God.
The first gear of protection is the “helmet of salvation,” our precious Bible. Guard your wandering thoughts by taking hold of the Word of God, thinking daily on the blessed Scriptures. As you commit this habit to your heart, begin to take every lingering thought CAPTIVE and replace them with His promises.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Casting down imaginations means you do not accept the devil’s thoughts, suggestions, or vision for you. Embrace the vision and hope that Christ desires for you. He came that we might have life and have it MORE abundantly. He is faithful. He is loving. He is constant. You can trust Him.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you… for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The word “yoke” is the Greek word zugos, and refers to a wooden yoke that joined two animals together, enabling them to combine strength to pull a load that would have been too much for one animal to pull alone. When Jesus preached, He used metaphors and illustrations ordinary people could relate to.
The idea of a yoke around your neck isn’t too welcoming, but when you think about the yoke’s purpose, you can see the beauty of the message behind it. Christ is with us, yoked with our weary hearts. He is aquatinted with all our ways. With this assurance, you can confidently take your afflicted thoughts captive.
Taking His yoke doesn’t mean holding onto the thoughts that weigh us down. Instead, taking His yoke gives us freedom from these things as we humble ourselves before Him. There is freedom is letting go and letting God. We can live above the circumstances that bring anxiety into our lives.
The anxiety that comes with all the “what if” thinking can affect every mood, move, and motivation. One must turn to the One Who already knows the outcome. The Lord said He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. The surroundings and circumstances in a swirl of change can be daunting, but He is a constant, steady companion.
One’s trust roots should dig deep and grow stronger, holding fast to His unseen hand. And in this confidence, we can arm up and diligently wear our vital helmet of salvation, bringing protection over our wandering thoughts, captivating them through the promises of God.
If anxiety is controlling your motivations, your well-doing, your living, rescue your heart and mind with the Word of God! Memorize the precious Word and as events of life come your way, God will recall that hidden Word and restore order in your hurried heart. Fill your day with encouraging podcasts or Bible preaching and teaching. Cause and effect go both ways!
And the most important thing: embrace the command to pray without ceasing. Pray over the paperwork, the deadline, the dishes, the steaming pot, the laundry basket. Pray while driving, resting, jogging, kneeling, standing. Just pray. Praying without ceasing, keeping your heart bowed towards God, will become a way of life, and the Spirit will sweep in and carry you through the anxiety of this life.
Lamentations 3:23 says the Lord’s mercies are made new every morning. As the sun rises on command every morning, as it may rise upon another “what if,” be gently reminded by God the Father that it will be rising with NEW MERCIES. Enough mercies to carry you through each personal battle. And just a side note, it’s always morning somewhere. We have access to a continuous flow of mercy!
Psalm 121:8 says, “The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”
No matter where you are in the ebb and flow of life, God is on the other side of this, and you can trust Him with the incoming and outgoing tides. The Bible gives great examples and even a command on what one should think upon. To take your thoughts captive simply means gaining control over what you think about.
Replace the negative with this command:
Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” THINK ON THESE THINGS! That command can save your restless spirit.
Embrace this way of life. This habit and growth. Take the challenge and go with God! Have confidence that God will empower you to focus your mind on the right things. It will become easier over time. You can gain a renewed way of thinking based on this command. What is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of your praise!
Knowing His word, hiding it in your heart, is how you discern whether your thoughts are a pretense that is setting you up for a lapse, or if it’s a path of captivating thinking. His Word can guide your thinking. Speak God’s authority over your own thoughts and believe what God desires for you. Proverbs promises if we commit our works to Him, He will establish our thoughts (Proverbs 16:3).
“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Guard your thinking. Your thoughts can become words. Guard your heart, it becomes the attitude of life.
If you’re looking for additional support beyond these verses and encouragement, feel free to contact one of the counselors in the online directory. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss practical techniques from a Christian perspective.
“Depressed”, Courtesy of Joice Kelly, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Thought Catalog”, Courtesy of Thought Catalog, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Yoke of Oxen”, Courtesy of Varun Verma, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Up-stretched Hands”, Courtesy of I.am_nah, Unsplash.com, CC0 License