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How to practice peace and calm during anxious times

by Mark S. Railey
Jan. 6, 2021

Let me say that anxiety and stress is perfectly normal. You should expect plenty of challenging days. Sickness, poverty, distress, troubles, and pain come to all of us at some point - okay, so some friends call this “old age.” While this reality is inevitable, your response can be trained toward peace and calmness through practice.

Lets set the context of a biblical life. The Bible tells us, we would pass through waters, rivers, and fire (Isaiah 43:2). Sometimes we would have a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). We would be killed (Luke 12:4-5). We would face storms with terrifying waves (Psalm 107:29-30). We would get angry (Ephesians 4:26-27). Our hearts would be troubled (John 14:1). Rulers would get angry at us (Ecclesiastes 10:4). We would worry about our lives, what we will eat or drink, about our bodies, what we would wear (Matthew 6:25). We would get anxious (Philippians 4:6-7). We would wonder if God was with us (Isaiah 41:10). We would be weak, cowardly, frightened, dismayed and feel the Lord God has abandoned us (Joshua 1:9). No wonder our inner child is sometimes terrified.

Our mistake: We believe if we double down on our efforts to study Torah, practice righteousness, pray harder… God will come to our rescue before we fall into the blackness of the bottomless pit. Sorry folks, this is not the biblical answer to the hard times of life.

We are not supposed to “practice” righteousness for others to glorify us for our goodness (Matthew 6:1). Instead, we are to live humble lives that God might lift us up (James 4:10). Granted, we know that we shall see Him someday (Rev 21:3; 22:4), and we know that death can’t separate us from God (Rom 8:38-39), for we don’t have to fear those who kill the body (Luke 12:4-5).

Did you see the part about God lifting us up? Do you think this “lifting us up” happens in this life or is it the resurrection? (Sorry, the resurrection is a teaching for another day).

Here is the biblical response (what we are to practice): It starts with us humbling ourselves. We cast all our anxieties on him, because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7). Then we expect God to give us peace (John 14:27). We acknowledge him and stop trying to understand everything. But rather, trust in the Lord (Prov. 3:5-6). Finally, we look for God to lead us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-6). The Lord instructs how to take up his yoke (his ways) so that we can find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30). Doing this, we discover that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28) and the Lord delivers us from all our fears (Psalms 34:4).

Practice humility, casting cares, expecting God's peace, acknowledging Him (publicly), trusting the Lord... looking for the path of righteousness, taking up His instructions, and watching all things turn to good and all fears dissolve away.

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