What if? These two words seem to occupy our minds a lot.
What if my child makes a poor choice? What if I lose my job?
What if I’m not doing enough as a mom? Our kids struggle with what if too. What if I get a bad grade on a test? What if I say something stupid in front of my friends and embarrass myself? After watching the news, our minds think what if a shooting happens close to our home? What if our town has a natural disaster like an earthquake, fire, or hurricane? What if there is another terrorist attack? What if, what if, what if…These thoughts can leave all of us living in fear and feeling worried, anxious, and stressed.
Recently, a loved one shared with me their struggle with anxiety. I love God’s timing because that same day, there was an email about Max Lucado’s new book in my inbox. In the email was a video from Max telling about his book, “Anxious about Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World.” As I listened to it, he shed some great insight on anxiety. I knew this book was a must read so I ordered it that day. The book was so great that I read it in about 2 days. It is full of powerful truth and I highly recommend this book to you as my October book choice!
Max says that “the presence of anxiety is unavoidable but the prison of anxiety is optional.” Wow- I love this statement. In his book, Max focuses on the verse, Phil 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing”. He says that this verse is referring to perpetual anxiety. Max says it means, “Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually in angst and breathless.” He believes we were not made to live in a constant state of anxiety and worry. So how did we live like this? How do we not let fear of the “what if” occupy our minds.
Max’s book gives so much great truth- I honestly wish I could recap every chapter. Max shares this acronym for the word CALM to help us with our anxiety and goes into great detail on each one of these points in his book.
Celebrate God’s goodness: “Rejoice in the Lord Always” Phil 4:4
Ask God for help: “Let your Requests be made know to God” Phil 4:6
Leave your concerns with God: “With Thanksgiving” Phil 4:6
Meditate on good things: “Think about things that are good and worthy of praise.” (Phil 4:8)
I am going to start with the M because it had my favorite part of the book. Meditate on good things- our thoughts. Max says, “Healing from anxiety requires healthy thinking. Your challenge is not your challenge. Your challenge is the way you think about your challenge.” He shares about a mom whose daughter has had more than 55 surgeries in her 13 years of life. This mom could easily focus on all the negative but instead she made a list of all the positive things to keep her thoughts on- the blessing of enjoying each other’s presence outside of a hospital room or the blessing of an honorable team working tirelessly on her daughter’s care.
This way of thinking does not come naturally for us. It is so much easier to complain and focus on the hard things in our lives. But Max says, ”You did not select your birthplace or birth date. You didn’t choose your parents or siblings. There are many things in life over which you have no choice. But the greatest activity of life is well within your dominion. You can choose what you think about.”
He then continues to give us an analogy to help us understand this better; this was one of my favorite parts. He says, “You can be the air traffic controller of your mental airport. You occupy the control tower and can direct the mental traffic of your world. Thoughts circle above, coming and going. If one of them lands, it is because you gave it permission. If it leaves, it is because you directed it do so. You can select your thought pattern.” I just love this. I get to control what thoughts I allow to land. Just because the thought enters my mind does not mean I need to give it power to land- this visual of an air traffic controller of my mind was so powerful to me!
Leave Your concerns with God: “With Thanksgiving” Max talks about the widest river on earth called “If Only.” He says, “many are convinced the If Only river separates them from the good life. If only I were thinner, If only I were richer, If only I could get married, If only kids would come, If only the kids were gone, If only……The good life begins, not when circumstances change but when our attitude toward them does.” The answer is Gratitude. Max says, “Gratitude leads us off the riverbank of If Only and escorts us into the fertile valley of Already. The anxious heart says, “Lord if only I had this… but the grateful heart says, “Oh look, You’ve already give me this.. thank you God.” Again, this is not natural for us. But choosing to be grateful for what we already have will help with our anxiety. “Replace your if only with already and treat each anxious thought with a grateful one!”
Ask God for help- Max talks about prayer! Max says, “Peace happens when people pray.” If we continue the verses in Phil 4:6-7 it says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” We are called to take action against anxiety by praying. Max encourages us to pray specific prayers. Be as detailed as possible so that you see God at work. He also encourages us to “Find a promise that fits your problem and build your prayer around it. These prayers of faith touch the heart of God.” He even said to remind God of his promises in our prayers with the words, “You said.” For example. “You said that you would never leave or forsake me” or “You said you would walk me through the waters or lead me through the valley.” There is something very powerful about praying Scripture and specifically God’s promises.
Celebrate God’s goodness: As you know, I love Joseph’s story in the bible. Anytime he is mentioned in a book, I love the truth I will learn. Max talks about Joseph in his chapter called Rejoice in the Lord Always: God uses everything to accomplish his will. Joseph went through a series of hard times- he was thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, accused of a crime he did not commit, and thrown into prison. One of my favorite quotes is when he was talking to his brothers and he said, “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the savings of many lives.” Max says, “Joseph viewed the sufferings of his life through the lens of divine providence.” Notice the words, “But God”. Life is going to give us curve balls sometimes and it is easy to wonder where God is in it all. I challenge you to say, but God like Joseph. I believe that God will use this to grow you, stretch you, and chisel you into the woman of God he wants you to be. I know this is not easy but I firmly believe that God has a plan for your life and He can take your deepest sadness and pain and turn it into something beautiful.
Some of you may be reading his and saying, this is great and all but I feel like I need to see a professional for my anxiety. I want you to know that there is no guilt or shame in needing to see a therapist or doctor for your anxiety. I am a firm believer in the power of counseling. In fact, I am proud of you for getting the help you need. I love what Max says, “It is not God’s will that you lead a life of perpetual anxiety. It is not His will that you face everyday with dread and trepidation. He made you for more than a life of breath stealing angst and mind splitting worry.” God cares so much about you and wants you to get out of your prison of anxiety so you can live with peace like God designed.
Let me end with prayer written by Max:
I release the fears and anxieties I face today and I place them in your hands. Help me surrender my tendency to try to control certainty. May the truth that you are sovereign over detail of today bring peace to my heart and my mind.
In Jesus name, Amen.
If you want to listen to the video that I watched about his book, click on the link below:
Your Copy Now
Depth Podcast Latest Episode
Are you passing a legacy of faith on to your children? I know this is so important, so I am so excited to have Casey…