Do you really have the faith that you think?
We have learned that our thoughts really do drive our physiology. Worry, anxiety and fear trigger the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol. Which in turn suppresses aspects of the immune system resulting in inflammation. This is one of the basic mechanisms that causes in allergies and a myriad of other health concerns.
Years ago a friend gave me a book, which boasted of revealing the "secret" to what we want. And of course, the secret to happiness put forth by "the secret" would be found in the ultimate acquisition of wealth, popularity, power and material things. In a nutshell, you simply had to become mentally, emotionally obsessed with your goal and by-and-by you would achieve it, because thoughts drive actions and actions get results.
Sadly, many have found that once they arrive at the top of the ladder (the goal), far too often they discover their ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. The wall of myopic selfishness, it turns out is not the wall of happiness - even with all of the cool stuff and fun times you've accumulated along the way.
Those of us who profess a Christian life, sadly are sucked into this false paradigm as this message of "me, me, me" is carefully cloaked and reinforced with biblical verse and catchy philosophical slogans. The philosophies of men mingled with scripture or catchy phrases is that very anthem that lures us to climb the wrong ladder - that ladder of self-aggrandizement which eventually leads away from God rather than towards Him.
So I guess, to continue this discussion, we must establish a few common understandings. Namely, a belief in God. That He loves and cares for us. That He is mindful of us and that He desires us to be happy and healthy. Also we must believe that His revealed word through the scriptures are true and accurate.
I believe that if we enjoyed good health, had plenty of money, lots of leisure time and are surrounded by likeminded friends, then there would be no need of a god. I believe that our ill health and dismal circumstances are tools that are used by loving heavenly parents to guide us back to them.
Early psychologists have taught us that we are intuitively taught to avoid pain and are drawn to pleasure. When we train a dog, or a child for that matter, we allow them to experience consequences. The consequences of doing right is rewarded. And for doing wrong, we earn pain or punishment. One of the great blessings and distinctions of man over the animals is that we have agency or a free will. We can choose our course of action. But in the choosing, we do not have control of the consequences. If I choose to step off the roof of my house, I cannot change my mind as I see the consequence of gravity propelling me to the earth.
An infant is born with only two fears, the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears are developed or acquired based on our experiences. As we grow and mature, we develop superficial fears (how am I going to pay all of these bills) and deeper fears (which come from a breach in relationships and broken heart - fear of man, fear of failure, abandonment, rejection, being vulnerable, etc.).
Like you, I know people who seem to be addicted to worry and anxiety. If they don't have something to worry about of their own, they will gladly worry for you about your problems. Understand that worry, fear and anxiety are all tools that the adversary uses to distract you away from God and your divine purpose here in life. If the devil can keep you mentally busy with worry then what you can accomplish for God will be lessened. An acronym for BUSY is Burdened Under Satan's Yoke. God does not ask us to serve Him because he needs our help. He asks us to serve Him because it is for our own good. As we walk in obedience to God (namely following the spiritual prompting that come into our heart and mind), He intends our life to be one of quality, happiness and health.
If you are not experiencing this (happiness and health), then listen up and consider the possibility that you may need to make some changes. If you truly want to get well, you've got to let go of the things that are causing fear, worry, anxiety and stress in your life. You have got to learn to trust God with absolutely confidence and get into the habit of casting your cares on Him. In Peter 5:7 it says (paraphrased) "Cast ALL of your cares - all of your anxieties, all of your worries, all your concerns, once and for all - on Him; For he really does care about you." God does not promise that you won't have problems in life, but he does promise to faithfully take care of you and deliver you out of every difficult circumstance.
So here's the deal. It is not Gods will or design that we worry, are fearful and anxious. If we cast these burdens then He has them and it is our job to listen to and follow the spiritual prompting he gives to us on how to conduct our life as it relates to the challenges we get.
Try this exercise: Write down on a piece of paper all the issues, people and problems in your life that you are stressed, fearful or anxious about. Then go to God in prayer and say something like this: "Heavenly Father, I have this and this problem (it's okay to read your list to Him) - I hand these over to you and completely surrender it to You, and ask you to take care of it and sort it out. If there is a part that I have to play, please show me. I do not know how You are going to sort it out but I am making the decision to confidently trust in, lean on and rely on You with all my heart and mind. I am not going to rely on my own insight or understanding (Proverbs 3:5) I give these problems to You once and for all. I thank you that I don't have to be anxious or worry about them anymore - It's in Your hands." Then scrunch that paper up and throw it in the fire, in the lake or what ever would symbolize to you casting your cares to the Lord. That's it. You no longer need to worry, fear or be anxious about those problems. You just need to follow those promptings that he will send to you will fix your situations. Pray and learn to hear his voice & promptly obey.
Now seriously, the problems have not gone away. And soon enough the fear, worry or anxiety will confront you, however, you must stick to your resolve and say in your mind - "Yes, I had that problem, but the Lord has it now. Thank you Lord for taking care of it for me." This will take repeated persistence on your part, but treat it seriously and stick with it. Many of us have many years of neurological thought patterns to correct.
Now here is where faith comes in. Faith and fear (worry & anxiety) are opposing spiritual forces. Fear (anxiety & worry) really are lack of faith. When you give your problems to the Lord, you must say in your heart, in your mind and even stomp your foot and say aloud "I choose FAITH!" You are in the process of retraining your mind and your brain, to no longer dwell on the negative and to draw upon God and your faith and trust that He truly is mindful of you and your needs. Gods understanding really is greater than yours.
God is in charge, not you. This mean solutions and problems resolve in the Lords way and on his timetable. Be patient, understanding. Giving the Lord ultimatums and deadlines just further demonstrates your lack of faith and spiritual immaturity. God is in the process of teaching and training you. Be a humble and meek student of the Lord. Have faith and confidence and trust in the Lord with all your heart. This can be terribly difficult, but gets easier as you persist in your efforts to let go of fear and have faith and trust in God.
And here is the heart of the matter. It really is a matter of faith. Develop the faith and the trust and the confidence in God that He is real and that his words and teachings are true. Christ taught that the birds and the flowers are cared for and their needs are met, and we being children of God are much more valuable in His sight. We must strive to develop faith that things will work out. We truly need not worry, fret or fear. But trust that when we turn our lives over to God, that He can make more of our lives than we can on our own. More peace, more comfort, more happiness, more health - truly an abundant life. Abundant in what matters most, not cluttered with the cares and materialism of the world.
Settle it in your heart once and for all that God will never leave you or forsake you. He will not leave you helpless and hopeless in your problems. Work you must, but you need to work for God. God's work is in blessing the lives of others in the unique and distinct way that only you can. By putting God first, you become and instrument for good in His hands and by so doing your life will be blessed. If you have tried "everything else" and still struggle, perhaps it is time to give God a chance.
Blessings, Dr. Kyle Christensen