Last week, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and read a post that made me pause.
“The cure to anxiety is thankfulness,” it read.
Nervousness and anxiety have always been a part of my life. I’ve mostly accepted it as a quirk of my personality. I was that kid who quietly worried about the start of every school year, the what-ifs of if this or that did or didn’t happen.
But it’s been as an adult that I’ve allowed anxiety to become something that eats at away at the joy of life. I’m talking about the kind of anxiety that keeps you awake at night or wakes you up in the middle of the night, so that you spend the wee hours mulling over everything and worrying and trying to pray. The anxiety that you can feel welling up in your chest and crushing in on your throat. The kind of anxiety that becomes more than worry or fear, but a stronghold you can’t overcome on your own.
I’ve read lots of ways for dealing with this kind of debilitating worry. Memorize Scripture. Focus on what you know is true, not what you feel. Find someone you can be honest with and share the burden. All of these things are good and useful. But they don’t cure anxiety. They push it aside for awhile.
Don’t get me wrong. I think memorizing Scripture is important. And choosing to focus on it in anxious times or moments when I don’t understand has been life-changing. It’s even better when the Holy Spirit brings a Scripture to mind, reminding you of the faithfulness of God in the midst of your chaos.
Likewise, focusing on the truth of Scripture helps to refocus my eyes off of me and the current anxiety. Feelings lie, and I’m all too prone to listen to and live out of them rather than basing my life on the truth of Scripture. People who can walk alongside you in good and bad times are vital. There’s no such thing as a lone-ranger Christian and the fellowship of believers is one of the greatest blessings of the church.
These things help me to refocus, but they don’t banish anxiety. But they do combine to bring me to a place where I can set aside whatever is worrying me and refocus. They are instruments that bring me to a place of thankfulness. Because when I am thankful, I recognize all that God has done for me. When I am thankful, I can see all the other times throughout my life when God has taken care of me. When I am thankful, I know that every good gift comes from the Father and that I am held in His tender care forever, because He has already paid the price for every one of my sins. Thankfulness calls me to remember God’s faithfulness, to number the blessings He has given me, and to revel in the love He has shown me. When I am thankful, I take my eyes off myself and the things that seem insurmountable and refocus them on the One who has given me so much and tenderly cared for me each step of the way.
And to the anxious, worrying heart, that is like a balm. You don’t have to worry about what you can’t control, He seems to whisper. See how I have taken care of you. Count the things you have to be thankful for. I’ve got this. You can trust Me.
When I am anxious, I’m essentially telling God that He doesn’t know what’s best or He can’t figure out how to handle the situation. When I am thankful, I know that He is trustworthy and His promises are true. And I can rest.
Be thankful today.