This guest post comes from Robert Basilious - a member of St Mark Coptic Orthodox church in London, England. Robert works as a software engineer by profession, but his true passion is serving church communities across the UK with their software needs. You can check out his work on his website, Serving Jesus. And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
Anxiety. It’s something we all face. Whether it’s coming from work, or from school, or from marriage, or from money (or lack thereof), it’s something that everyone deals with. The consequences of having anxiety are well documented – hyperventilation, nausea, feeling loss of control, and feeling on edge. No one likes being anxious.
Anxiety results from our interpretation of situations. An assessment of a situation as threatening, damaging, or challenging, coupled with doubts over our ability to cope and respond in a manner that produces a desirable outcome can lead to anxiety. But often our interpretation of those situations is distorted – leading to misguided concern rather than the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.
“The servant of the Lord will be afraid only of his Master, while the man who does not yet fear Him is often scared by his own shadow.” St. John Climacus
How can we eliminate such distorted interpretations? The oft-repeated phrase "LET GO and LET GOD" comes to mind.
We need to take our focus away from the world, removing worldly desires from our hearts. We wear ourselves out with anxiety over our worldly needs.
“Detachment is the mark of a perfect soul, whereas it is characteristic of an imperfect soul to be worn down with anxiety about material things.” St. Nilus of Sinai
We need to accept God’s will, rather than battling to impose our own. Being dead to worldly attachments allows us to submit freely to God’s will, providing peace.
“Above all else you should strive to acquire three things, and so begin to attain what you seek. The first is freedom from anxiety with respect to everything whether reasonable or senseless – in other words, you should be dead to everything.” St. Symeon the New Theologian
When our worldly passions recede, our love for Christ is able to flourish. We can now approach Christ selflessly and without pride.
“No one can enter crowned into the heavenly bride chamber without first making three renunciations. He has to turn away from worldly concerns …; he must cut selfishness away; and thirdly, he must rebuff the vanity that follows obedience.” St. John Climacus
Detachment from worldly desires and pleasures allow us to prioritize God properly.
“Someone withdrawing from the world for the sake of the Lord is no longer attached to possessions, that he should not appear to be deceived by the passions.” St. John Climacus
Depending on God completely shows true humility. God reveals to us areas where we have leant on our own knowledge, working independently from God, which inevitably leads to turmoil. We must hand over all to Him, not only isolated areas of our lives. Greater dependence on God redirects our focus away from seeking satisfaction through the details of life and instead from Him.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
St. Paul, while composing the epistle to the Philippians in prison, was able to reject anxiety during his imprisonment through trust in God, and the vast love that He has for us.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
When we trust God with all our soul we free ourselves.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)
Christ is the Light revealed to us that surrounds us and is reflected from us. Christ is our comfort, and we derive our strength from Him. As Christ makes us stronger, we cannot be weakened.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)
We often feel we are waiting on God, when really we are waiting for the outcome we want. We are focused on our worldly desire, and not on Christ. God may delay us until we relish in Him rather than what he can provide. To find peace, we need to reconsider our expectations and wait on God.
"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:13-14)
Our thoughts must dwell on God's love, for divine love is complete. Whenever we feel a situation appears to threaten, damage or challenge us, it's time to quietly let go and let God.