• Jen Ayling

How to Cope with Stress, Anxiety & Doubt

It can be difficult when issues arise in our lives which bring along with them anxiety, concern and even doubt. But take comfort in the Lord because He is our refuge and strength at all times – especially in times of trouble.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

All those negative emotions, although they feel very real and can cause much sorrow, we must always remember that none of these things come from the Lord...they are all tactics of the enemy to try to bring you down and cause unrest in your life. Satan’s biggest agenda is to make you ineffective for God’s Kingdom, and the best way for him to do that is by trying to fill your head with worries and doubts—having you questioning things and second-guessing God’s Word with the ultimate goal of causing you to self-destruct.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

The good news is though that Jesus came to give us life and Satan has no power or authority over God’s children (Hebrews 2:14). All he can do is bring negative thoughts hoping that you’ll grab a hold of them and dwell on them because in and of himself, the devil has no power over us.

Colossians 1:13 God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom he loves.

This is why it is of utmost importance that we are renewing our minds daily in the Word of God (Romans 12:2). This will cleanse not only our hearts (Ephesians 5:26), but also our thought-life and bring a refreshed mind with pure thoughts to meditate on.

What we choose to spend most of our time thinking on is what will ultimately be our main focus, which will result in how we react to situations that arise; our attitude, character and purpose. This is why the Bible instructs us to be diligent in meditating on things which are true, pure and honourable.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

While we’re on this earth and in these earthly bodies, we are constantly in a spiritual battle.

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

There is persistent warfare happening around us all the time and just because we may not always be able to see it in the physical sense, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. The devil is prowling around looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Satan is filled with fury and is working hard to try to bring as many people down with him as he can and he knows his time is short so he is relentless in his pursuit to cause destruction (Revelation 12:12). The Scriptures warn us of this battlefield because the Lord wants us to be prepared and to realise we are in a battle so we’re not rendered as ineffective; sitting down with our weapons blunt and rusty. The Lord wants His people to be sober and alert, putting on the full armour of God and standing firm against the evil one in this day with our sword of the spirit (Word of God) held high (Ephesians 6:10-18), knowing that the enemy is out there and he is trying to wear God’s children out by tiring them with their own personal problems so they are unable to minister to others and deliver the gospel of Jesus to the broken and hurting.

But what about when believers have allowed the enemy’s lies to slip into our hearts, therefore making way to commit sins?

There is another element to this subject of spiritual awareness that is very important to understand and resist from being infiltrated with, and that’s falling into a state of self-condemnation.

There’s a domino effect that quite often happens in a Christian’s life when they are feeling down and the difficulties of life are weighing heavy upon their shoulders. Instead of feeding on God’s Word, they choose the easier option of obtaining advice from the world and in turn are filling their minds with ungodliness, which then leads to sin and deeper into depths of despair. It’s at this point when the believer can feel overwhelmed and due to their disgust with themselves at what they’ve allowed their lives to become, they drop into the hole of self-condemnation.

Now it’s important to note that condemnation means literally is the point of no return—eternal death. And we know that for a believer, this is not correct because Jesus has saved us from our sins and we have received salvation through Him—which is eternal life!

So what the believer needs to realise and be assured of is that if they are truly born again; that is they have genuinely repented and turned from their sins and now place their complete trust and whole life in Jesus’ hands, then they are no longer condemned—it is only those who reject the Lord who are condemned.

John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So in knowing this truth, we can have confidence with this next verse.

1 John 5:18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

Does this verse mean that God’s children never sin? No it doesn’t. However what it’s saying is that you no longer desire to sin like you used to before knowing the Lord—and you will no longer continue in habitual sin because you are now a new creation in Christ (1 John 3:8). Jesus is living in you and therefore you cannot continue on in sin because your new spirit and new heart abhor evil (Romans 12:9).

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Each of us are on our own journey with the Lord, and that means people can be at different levels with their growth in Christ, therefore we should never compare ourselves to others. What we Christians should have, however, is a desire to please God in all our ways—wanting nothing more than to grow closer to the Lord, yearning for a deeper relationship with our Lord and Saviour. And when we sin, like Apostle Paul, we hate that thing that we do and are repentant before the Lord, and instead of staying in the mud (sin), we get up out of it and move on.

Romans 7:15-25 For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

When we are living according to the flesh, we will be living according to the sinful nature which is at odds with God and leads to sin.

Galatians 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

But when we are living according to the Spirit, we will be living according to the new nature—Christ within us. In and of ourselves we don’t have the ability to stop ourselves from sinning, but with the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance, He gives us the ability through Him to stop sinning and to live in the Spirit.

Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Let’s never forget the great promises of God. He has made the way for salvation and has given us everything we need to live our lives fully for Him—in this world and the next! And although we will go through many trials and tribulations in this world, we will always find our rest in Jesus knowing that He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

-- By Jenny Ayling