What About Anxiety?
By Fred Pruitt
I hope my delay in answering you still finds you well.
I could pretty much identify with you and that things you mentioned. I’m “anxious” all the time about a lot of things. Some of them have been around for years and years and years. Wonderful though – our God is very patient with us when we temporarily “forget” his unfailing provision, when circumstances of the moment seem to overwhelm us as well as beyond our ability to handle.
We haven’t left the faith. It is by God’s perfect purposes that we often initially react to immediate negative circumstances with a bit of panic, because it is by the contrasts and exercising of the spiritual senses that the Spirit brings us to our full age in the spirit. (Heb 5:14).
I do it all the time. I used to beat myself up about it. “You are supposed to be sharing and inspiring faith in others but you lose it when the going gets rough, so how can you tell others to have faith when you can’t even keep yours going,” that ever-present accusing voice says. (He has no originality!)
Like I said, I used to beat myself up and somewhat agree with the accuser, but I no longer beat myself up about it now and have No agreement with the accuser! I have realized two things. One, I have learned that all that “anxiety” is something I am only experiencing in my soul and is temporal. In saying that I am also confirming one more time, that it in my spirit center, I am living in an unbroken oneness in the Spirit with Christ, which hasn’t been sullied an iota by my temporal soul reaction nor by whatever circumstances that confront me.
Second, I see that all these things work good because there is never a pause in the Spirit. The Living Grace of God moves through us continually like a mighty river, and as we release it again in faith to meet the temporal circumstances and our soul reactions, it is the circumstances and our soul reactions that are overwhelmed with the grace and power of God. As Paul wrote:
Now thanks be unto God, Who ALWAYS causeth us to TRIUMPH in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge BY US in every place.” (2 Cor 2:14).
(Consider this: read the above Scripture passage and especially consider the underlined parts. Do you believe this? It makes all the difference!)
And all of that is part of the temptations which come daily from the accuser who would have us lose our faith lifeline, if he could – that is essentially all he could potentially take from us, and he can only do that by lies and deceit. (But even if he does divert us for a moment, the Lord hasn’t let us go. He’ll jerk us back when the time is right.)
If there is a “way” to deal with this anxiety, it would be first to recognize that it is there, i.e., the anxiety. Don’t rebuke it, speak words of faith against it. Don’t resist it. Don’t join it, but don’t resist it. Recognize it for what it is.
Many years ago I got peace on all that “taking every thought captive for Christ,” stuff. I tried hard to do that. And boy, it’s a hard job, when approached that way! I used to hate all the things that rolled around in my head all the time, and was always trying to think or feel differently. Inwardly I would be thinking, “You shouldn’t have that thought, you should have this thought.” Like most at that beginner stage, I thought the key lay somewhere in me and in finding out how I could get rid of all that negative stuff and never have it hit me again. I thought I could somehow become spiritual enough that I would be “above” all that stuff.
Obviously, I was not successful. By the time I would deal with one thought or feeling I thought needed adjustment, 50 more would pop in! There was no way I could handle all that, and if I could have done it that way, that would’ve been all I would have done from morning to night, 24/7, because it would be an endless task.
However, in not being successful at driving unwanted thoughts and feelings away, I discovered a much more important and central issue. It forced me to pay more than “lip service” to what we had been taught about the difference between soul and spirit.
The Spirit has used the enemy’s temptations for my benefit from the beginning, though it took quite a while for me to see it that way. But every bit of all that temptation stuff in those days, the Spirit used to teach me who I am and to teach me Who He IS in me! It forced me to learn to live inwardly in rest in faith, while at the same time being confronted and pulled and questioned and whispered to and a whole host of other temptations in my soul and body, yet remaining solidly fixed in the center. (Remembering, it is not “I” that does these things, but Christ Who is my Life! He is the inner steadfastness, and by His own steadfastness He keeps me!)
When we begin to understand the Truth, “The prince of this world comes, but he has nothing in me,” (John 14:30), it is because by the Spirit we start to realize after confrontation after confrontation that our faith-knowledge has become internalized. We realize we’re not going anywhere, no matter how hard we are pushed or pulled. We have become the “Tree planted by the water,” (Jer 17:8), that has grown to maturity so that now it stands tall and provides shade and sustenance and other things for all around it. We may think, “Now when did that happen?” We don’t know. One day we just take it and believe it.
Now that’s all it is! It is the simplicity of it that trips us up. We look for some sort of relief from these thoughts and feelings, and the relief we get at first may not seem to be relief, but in the end we’ll see. Because the “relief” first comes in the form of, “Yes, those thoughts and feelings are there, but they are not me. They are just waves on the ocean, swells that seem to threaten but are only passing by.” Inwardly you are steadfast and unmovable because it is not you who is steadfast and unmovable but Christ, WHO lives that out in the flesh IN YOUR FLESH! We bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, which we could say in your case is being besieged by anxiety so strong it dominates your life so that it is a death for you, that the Life also of Jesus would be manifest IN OUR MORTAL FLESH!” (2 Cor 4:8-18).
Then what happens? One of two things perhaps, and then the same outcome regardless. The two things are, the anxiety or other issue goes away or clears up, or, it does not, so that they are still there.
Either way, the outcome is that we can begin to realize God is using us every day in an intercessory way, and the things we “suffer,” such as this anxiety, we can begin to see it and use it as the ongoing “sufferings of Christ” that He continues by us, as He has since the beginning, to save multitudes alive. (Col 1:24; Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28).
______, I’m telling you the truth – I live exactly what I have described to you. I live with the same problems and issues everyone else in the world faces. I have three grown children and five grandchildren. We have stuff happen that challenges everything we believe and live, and it has pretty much gone on since the beginning of our journey together when Janis and I married more than four decades ago. Stuff keeps happening, and over time the Spirit both directly and through many other sources has taught us to live from the inner place, where we are part of an indestructible life and live that indestructible life. (Heb 7:16 NASB).
So yes, I live through it, experience it to its fullest, and yet am inwardly untouched by it because the Spirit has fixed in me where my real life is. We can be pulled off-beam for a moment but He snaps us back into place according to His ways.
So to you, I might say the same. Begin to recognize in you the things I have mentioned here. It should take your focus from hating the anxiety, to first “enduring” it if necessary for Christ’s sake, but eventually you will know that you are fixed in Him and cannot be moved off, and then even though you still feel and experience the full weight of any of these types of things in your daily life, you will also realize the power of the Spirit in it and that it has always been that!!!!!! You are blessed and a blesser!!!!!
So I think you’re on the right track. The Spirit has you fully and He finishes what He starts! (1 Thes 5:24).