Anxiety for some is a mental health issue, and I’m not a mental health profession. But anxiety is also about a crisis of faith for some, and today I want to talk to those of you who experience anxiety and want help from God’s Word about how to handle those emotions.
Highlights From The Episode:
Today, I wanna talk to you specifically if you are a Christian who is struggling with anxiety. Now, anxiety brings up a lot of different concerns, and so I wanna make sure right away, at the beginning of this video, to explain that I understand that anxiety is, for some, a mental health issue. And I’m not a mental health professional. So if you are someone who really is struggling with chronic anxiety, make sure to find a Christian counselor. But for some of you out there, it’s not huge crippling anxiety that you’re dealing with, but it can sometimes be a crisis of faith. And so today I wanna talk to those of you who, you sometimes experience anxiety, or maybe you’re experiencing some fear, and you want help from God’s Word to know how to handle those emotions. If that’s you, let’s jump in and get started.
Hey there, my friends, and welcome back to The Renewed Mind. I am your host, Ashley Varner, and I am a Christian life coach. I work with women on taking their thoughts captive, how to deal with negative emotions, and there has been something that comes up over and over in my coaching and I wanted to share it today on the podcast in YouTube channel, all about anxiety. Because all of this month, we are talking about dealing with negative emotions God’s way. We’re talking about, we’ve talked about rejection, we’ve talked about bitterness and unforgiveness, and anxiety is definitely a topic that I think sometimes Christians tend to, I would say, just kind of shy away from because it is such a big mental health issue.
But ultimately, I think that the Bible does have a lot to say about anxiety. And I want to encourage you to dig into His Word. And that’s what we’re gonna do today. We’re gonna talk a little bit about dealing with anxiety around certain situations. And like I said in the intro, make sure, if you are dealing with chronic anxiety, don’t take this as mental health advice. I would definitely recommend that you see a Christian counselor, with the emphasis there on Christian, and really go to someone who has the tools to help you on a one-on-one basis. But if you are someone who just struggles with anxiety from time to time, then this video is definitely going to help you.
So people in the Bible experienced the same kind of humanity that you and I do. And a couple of weeks ago, we talked about how Jesus handled rejection. Last week, we talked about how Joseph handled bitterness and forgiveness. And today, I want to tackle anxiety with the story of Esther.
As I look through the Scriptures of people who had anxiety and was really researching, and there were a lot of people in the Bible who experienced anxiety, and for some pretty good reasons. And I really found myself drawn to the story of Esther.
Now, I’ve done several blog posts and podcast episodes about Esther. I love her story, but I never really looked at it in the lens of anxiety. And so I wanted to share a little bit about her story today. And really, we’re gonna be reading in Esther Chapter 4. And if you wanna read the entire Scripture, I’m reading through and kind of gonna be summarizing parts of Esther, Chapter 4 verses 4 through 17.
So it starts out with Esther. She is now being told, because she’s in the palace, and if you don’t know some of the background story, the king had chosen a second in command named Haman to be in charge of kind of his affairs in the cities. And Haman decided that he was going to go against the Jewish people who were in Persia at the time. And one of the biggest reasons was because of Mordecai who was a family member of Esther, because he refused to bow to Haman. And now news is coming because Haman has decided that he is going to open up kind of a free day to kill all of the Jews. And if you kill the Jew, you got to have all of his stuff and keep all of his possessions. And he was pretty much making this a decree for the entire empire. And now news is coming to Esther, who is in the palace. The king doesn’t know that she’s a Jew. She kept that a secret from him. And she is being told now all that is going on.
And verse four says that she was in great distress. She knew that Mordecai had been at the temple, or at the palace gates and was mourning. And so she is going to him, or she’s sending messengers to him and servants to him just to find out what was troubling him. So Mordecai comes in and he tells her everything that’s going on. He tells Esther what happened to him. He talks about exactly the amount of money that Haman is willing to pay out of the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. And he also gives her this list, this text of the edict for the Jews and this annihilation that was gonna be happening.
So they go back and forth, and they’re talking through the messengers. Mordecai tells Esther, “It’s time for you to step up and go to the king. You need to tell him that you are a Jew and maybe he will come in and save us on your behalf.” And so in verse 11, Esther sends back word to Mordecai and she is scared, right? It says that she was in great distress. She now has this huge responsibility put onto herself to save all of her people, right?
This is a lot of anxiety that’s going through her mind. And she tells him in verse 11, she says, “All the King’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned has but one law, that they’ll be put to death unless the king puts out his scepter to them to spare their lives.”
And she tells him, “It’s been 30 days since the king has even asked to see me.” So the word gets back to Mordecai and he sends back this answer, which most of us know, he says, “Don’t think that because you’re in the King’s house that you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance from the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.”
Here’s the verse that everybody likes to quote, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Now, Esther, when she sent that word to him, maybe she was looking for a little bit of, not accolades, but some comfort to say, “Oh, I understand it’s gonna be really hard, but we really need your help.” No, what she got was actually, he’s telling her, “Look if you don’t do this, help is gonna come from somewhere else, but you’re still gonna perish. And we need you. This is the time. This is why you’ve been sent to the palace. This is why God has placed you here.”
And so after that speech, Esther sends back a reply to Mordecai and she says, “Go and gather all the Jews who are in Soosa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendance will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it’s against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” And then it says that Mordecai went and carried out her instructions.
So my question to you, and as I was reading these verses, my question to myself, I guess, was what happened between verse 11 when Esther is like fearing for her life and giving all these reasons why she can’t go to the king, and then in verse 16 when she basically says, “If I die, I die. If I perish, I perish?”
The difference is where she is focusing her attention. So in verse 11, she’s focusing her attention on King Xerxes and his power. So when she focuses on that, it causes anxiety for her, because she knows, hey, all he has to do is nothing, basically. He doesn’t have to put out his scepter and I’m done. I’m killed.
Then, through all of these things, whenever Mordecai’s talking to her, her focus shifts to, in verse 16, now she’s focused on the mission that God has placed on her to save His people. She’s focused on God and His power, and that changes her anxiety.
So anxiety is something that we all struggle with from time to time. You know, several years ago in my devotions, I was reading a book and a quote stuck out to me, and it said, “Anxiety is a result of envisioning a future without me.” And it was like through Jesus speaking. And that spoke to me so much to say, if I’m feeling anxious, it’s because I’m envisioning a future without God in it.
How many times do we get nervous or feel tons of anxiety about the future, and then once we look back and we realized that whenever we envision that future, it was always without the Lord’s presence there? So if you look towards the future and you’re worried and anxious, I want you to look at that future that you’re anxious about and look for God in that future. Because if there’s anxiety, you’re probably not envisioning your future with Him in it. You know, every time that I go to God with concerns about the future, I remember that He is already there. God is already there in the future.
Any time that you have anxiety welling up within you, or you experience fear, it’s your thoughts about the future that are causing your anxiety. Because the future can’t make you feel anything, right? It’s just, it hasn’t even happened yet. It’s your thoughts about the future that are causing your anxiety. And so whenever we focus on just the future, it’s easy to feel anxious about it. But remember that when your thoughts about the future include Jesus in that future, He’s still there.
The Bible says He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever more. So He is already there. He is already in your future. So it takes time to learn how to take your thoughts captive, but one way that you can do that is just to take a step back and imagine a future, knowing that God’s already there. So if you are anxious about the future, you don’t know what the future’s gonna hold, you don’t know what next week’s gonna hold or next month, or next election, or whatever it’s gonna hold, right?
I want you to envision that future again, but knowing that God is there, knowing that He is already there. His hand is already there. And whenever we do that, it starts to take our thoughts captive, because we start to realize, you know, yeah, the future might be unknown, it’s always gonna be unknown, but God is already there and He knows. He loves me and He knows what’s coming. So once you imagine that same future, knowing that God is still in control, no matter what circumstance comes, you don’t have to be anxious. God still reigns over it all.
Whenever you start to take your thoughts captive, that’s whenever your anxiety can turn to peace. And one way that you can do this is by replacing your thoughts with God’s thoughts. And you might be wondering, “Well, how do I know what God’s thoughts are?” They’re in His Word.
So if you begin to read through the Psalms, read through some of the poetry that’s in there, that creates peace, because you’re thinking God’s thoughts and it starts to change your emotional state from anxious to peaceful. No matter what your struggles are, no matter what fears that you have about the future, God is already there. I hope that that helps you today if you are struggling with anxiety.
If you are struggling with some negative emotions, I really want to recommend that you check out a couple of different resources. I have a free Power Of Prayer workbook that you can download. You can just go to AshleyVarner.com/Prayer.
Free Power Prayer Workbook: https://ashleyvarner.com/prayer
If you are wanting just a really introductory lesson on taking your thoughts captive and changing your mindset, I have a six-week program called The Mindset Reset. It is completely self-paced. You can check it out. If you’re needing a little bit more, if you’re wanting a little bit of one-on-one coaching from a Christian coach, I am a certified Christian life coach. I am here for you. I would be happy to help you. Go ahead and check out Renew 180. It is a six-month program with coaching and teaching to help you to get control over your emotions God’s way. I help you learn how to take your thoughts captive, build confidence, all of that great stuff.
The Mindset Reset: https://ashleyvarner.com/mindset
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