Approaches to defeating anxiety in a crazy world.
Before we get to the birdwatching part of this post, let’s take a look at some important foundational truths on overcoming anxiety.
1. Rest Firmly in the Unchanging Promises of God.
A vibrant relationship with the Lord makes us strong and naturally resistant to anxiety.
No matter what coping techniques we may employ to overcome anxiety, we must first learn to rest firmly in God’s promises and care. This is how we get a firm footing in life. Living this way allows us to possess the kind of peace that circumstances can’t take away. Our heavenly Father is our provider. His care for us is all-encompassing and perfect. It’s a relationship of trust (Psalm 56:3-4). Trust doesn’t happen unless we apply it (Mark 11:24). We don’t need to worry. He’s got this.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:26 “Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?”
Let’s take a minute to look at the birds (which we shall do in nature later on). But staying with the spiritual application for now, let’s observe that birds don’t have the ability to strategize or make choices the way we do. They simply have their God-given instincts of survival. This is how we should be, because the Lord is not only the creator of life, he is also its sustainer. Our “superior” minds sometimes get in the way of complete and restful trust. You are much better than a bird. You’re created in the image of God. Of course, as the birds do, we also must go out and work. We do our part, and God does his part. As our heavenly Father provides for the birds by placing them in an environment that has plentiful food present, then the rest simply depends on the birds’ activity in seeking out that food. Our situation is the same. God has placed us in an environment where our activities of work put food on the table. God provides for us through our trust in him (Psalm 56:3-4) and through our work (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Nurturing a Posture of Rest.
Spend Time in the Word and in Prayer.
The word of God – scripture – is primarily how he speaks to us (2 Timothy 3:16–17; Isaiah 55:11). And prayer is how we speak to him. Add the two together, and you have a relationship. You have dialog. Let your bible reading soak in to your soul. Let it reveal God’s message of love and grace to you and let it guide you, not only into righteous living, but into rest, peace, and service. A healthy life of reading the word and prayer will change everything for you. Through these two activities, he will give you peace and inner healing. The soul —consisting of mind, will, and emotion—is important. Your state of being is determined by what you fill your soul with. Matthew 11:28-29 tells us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
More on the Word of God:
2 Peter 1:20-21 – “Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Proverbs 30:5 – “Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
Hebrews 12:2 – “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 4:16 – “Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 – “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6–7 – “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Crossway has an excellent article on prayer here.
Conclusion: Assuming we’re willing to work, God will provide for us. So with that established, our main job is to rest firmly in our Lord’s promises and care. He is our provider and we need to consciously trust him. Walk with him moment-by-moment with trust in your heart. Spend time in the Word. Pray. Determine for these things to be natural, flowing, and cheerful. They’re not a list of rules or obligations. They’re “natural” life with God.
What If It Doesn’t Work?
“But how do I make this truly happen in my life,” you may ask. “I tell myself to trust him and it doesn’t work. I still worry.” This is a quandary for many of us. But keep at it. Confidently show your anxieties that you mean business!
Having said that, one size doesn’t fit all in this matter. Maybe God has you in this place for a reason. He may be building maturity and character in you. Then stop obsessing about the anxiety, worry or fear. Focus on God himself. No ulterior motives. Just spend time with him for who he is.
I AM WHO I AM
Be still, and know that I am God.
Spend time with God, just to get to know him better. Discover your Creator with a new resolve. This is where joy lives. Joy may just wind up replacing your anxiety or worry!
2. Caring for Your Soul by Getting Out into Nature.
Your surroundings can deeply affect you (positively or negatively). Use this principle to your advantage.
Spending time in nature can be a useful practical way to soothe a weary soul. Bird watching, canoeing, or hiking (to name a few). Immerse in nature for a few hours. An endeavor that can infuse a sense of peace naturally.
Following are two practical/natural ways to bring peace to your soul.
Your soul can benefit by things that are outside your normal routine (which often involves people). Perhaps the following suggestions don’t seem super-spiritual, but try them on for size.
Solitude: What can be more practical than to consciously go for solitude? The dictionary describes it as “The state or quality of being alone or remote from others.” So stop the busyness and get some alone time away from the clamor that often accompanies interaction with people or structured society. You can have solitute many ways and in different environments.
Nature: You can easily find solitude in nature. God created nature, and it has many beauties to experience. The great outdoors is still relatively untouched by the craziness of society and its throngs of people clamoring through life. Nature is peaceful and serene. Consider a nature hike, boating down a peaceful river, or photographing birds for pure enjoyment. We have a unique connection to the earth. We were formed from it. You can experience a kind of rest and peace in nature that no other place can provide. So get back to nature more regularly. It’ll refresh your soul!
Having spoken of birds to illustrate trust on a spiritual level, it seems appropriate to enjoy them in nature as well. To me, birds will always be a vivid reminder of how to trust in my Heavenly Father.
Photos of Birds by the Author.
Being out in nature and taking these photos has given me tremendous satisfaction and peace. The person of Christ is my overall peace. But outings like this surely help. Enjoy.