As a child, I remember growing up with the news playing in the background at the start of our day. This was a daily routine for my family. I could tell how much time I had left before school by knowing if the Today Show was on or not. Now, during my morning routine, I don’t put the news on. It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world, but in my opinion, the news media is of the theory: if it bleeds, it leads.
Believe me, I’m not advocating being unaware of what is going on in the world. It’s just that hearing about a killing, other violence, or despair first thing in the morning before putting on the armor of God activates my own personal anxieties and fears. When we see the world through the lens of terror and despair, we see a dangerous place. Guess what! It is a dangerous place.
The world wants us to operate in anxiety and fear because these emotions keep us oppressed and in bondage. They make us easy to control. And, in society today, we often focus on the war with the enemy in a physical sense versus going to battle with him in the spiritual realm.
In my life, because of the unknown variables in different situations, I have been no stranger to anxiety or fear. As an African American woman, I have anxiety and fears on a different level than some of my sisters in Christ. They are no better or no worse than another woman’s because a fear is still a fear, but they are mine.
I have been terrified at times at the thought of what it means for my nephew to grow up as a black male. I pray that he can have a full life that is not cut short because of an escalated situation narrated by the color of his skin. Because of the world we are in, I pray this same prayer for all the males in my life.
The anxiety that happens when I’m pulled over by the police causes me to pray that I will be alive after the encounter. It’s a fear for me that is real. For example, my last encounter with the police occurred when my cousin and I were driving back home from Atlanta, Georgia. At the moment, we were in South Carolina. We had her young son, my nephew, in the backseat. She was enjoying the gas a little too much and boom, flashing lights.
When she saw the police car, she went into full blown prayer. She continually repeated: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” I am in the passenger seat highly anxious and fearful that we are being pulled over by the police and scared we might not live. Once we stopped, I had no clue what to do with my hands, so I lifted them visibly. I wanted them to remain visible and reminded myself not to make any sudden moves or do anything that could be perceived as threatening. Not even the driver, I literally was going through a checklist in my head to make sure we got out alive. This story is a great illustration that the enemy wants us to think and prepare only for physical warfare. But, in the kingdom of God, we’ve got to be able to wage war in the spiritual realm. Reflecting on the beauty in this story, this experience taught me not to pray just out of anxiety and fear, but to center my prayers and to pray in authority and love.
Truth be told, the times I have experienced the most anxiety in my life is when I operate outside of the will of God. I don’t know about anyone else, but my biggest struggle with my faith is in the areas of control and obedience. Anxiety and fear are byproducts of me not operating in the security that He is God and that He has the master plan.
As I go deeper into my relationship with Christ, I’ve discovered anxiety and fear are two things I can easily normalize, and I begin to function in the dysfunction of them. This happens because we are not in tune with the Word of God and what it says, and we become victims of these two emotions. It’s important to remember God has a preferred plan for us. He wants us to see Heaven on Earth. The enemy, however, likes to distract us by getting us to focus on our anxieties.
It’s interesting how many people I meet daily that after speaking to them, they reveal they are suffering from anxiety, depression, or a mixture of both. I often ask myself: “Where is this epidemic of bipolar disorder coming from?” This epidemic knows no bounds. It doesn’t matter a person’s race, age, economic status, or whether he/she is a believer or not. I wonder if part of the issue is that, as a collective, we are pulling away from the knowledge of God’s Word. Or is it because so many people cannot accept Jesus’ love because of what they’ve done in their past?
Every day when we wake up, we are walking into enemy territory and the enemy is not afraid to make it seem as scary as possible. The enemy deploys his greatest weapon by presenting things that fill us with anxiety and fear. These two words are so difficult to reconcile against who God is. That is how we know they are devices of the enemy. Both self-absorbed and flesh-led emotions are created in our minds. That’s the enemy’s trick. If he can get you to focus on yourself, you can’t follow the great commission of Jesus to love others.
How we see the world is how the world will be, plain and simple. The best way to battle anxiety and fear is to stay grounded in the Word of God. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph states:
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. NLT
And Isaiah 54:17 tells us:
But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken! NLT
The weapons that come against us are real. But anxiety and fear will make us forget they cannot prosper. The key to breaking these strongholds is knowing God’s Word and being in relationship with the Holy Spirit. The enemy wants to keep us bound. He wants us living in anxiety and fear.
In some of the most physically scary places on Earth, we hear of some of the greatest displays of faith. Miracles are documented most often in countries where the person’s only option is to believe in the Word of God and the promises He gives us. Based on their experiences, these people have developed their ability to do spiritual warfare and they understand 2 Corinthians 10:4 well.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV
We can’t fight anxiety and fear carnally. We must be prepared to take the battle into the spiritual realm.
Anxiety and fear within us come from us not fully understanding who created us and who He has created us to be. As a child, I remember having a very intuitive nature and people staying I had the gift of prophecy, but at the time, I didn’t understand where these things came from. This caused me anxiety because I felt different from other girls, always set apart. I have also had anxiety and fear over unmasking and being my authentic self. I have been plagued with anxiety reliving encounters with others. I have been anxious about what people thought of me. However, I have been the most detrimental to myself when I have tried to go against how God made me to fit in. Trying to live up to the expectations of others, and society in general, can make you feel like a fraud, which in turn causes anxiety.
In the Bible, holy means to be set apart. I now realize that I had let anxiety blind me to the fact that I had a call on my life from God and that my differences were approved by God. See, the enemy wants you to see your differences through the lens of anxiety and fear so that it hinders you from walking in God’s will. But your differences are a gift from God. My differences are important things He gave me to help transform the world. Until I understood God’s Word, I couldn’t understand how the world really operates. When you ground yourself in the Word of God, the anxieties and fears of this world fall away. By studying the Bible, it has provided me with the foundational knowledge that empowers me to embrace my anxieties and fears.
We are so afraid to feel pain and hurt that we allow anxiety and fear to rob us of the true joy that comes from God. Having said that, I leave you with Matthew 6:34:
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” NLT
Written by Katrina Hodges
Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT and NKJV.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.