Telling Anxiety “No!”

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Anxiety was eating me alive. Like thousands of fiery ants, doubt and worry swarmed over me as I fell to my knees. At first, I’d resisted and stamped furiously against the attack. But in time, continual bombardment gnawed with such ferocity that I stopped fighting and went down.

I was not unfamiliar with fear. I’d stood up to this spirit and seen him retreat in terror. But in time, I slackened my stance to allow life to eat away at my peace. Discouraging news came from every sector of my life, and the nagging nips of anxiety nibbled away at my faith.

From government to health, business to family, disappointing reports fueled my thoughts. “This situation is far worse than expected,” I worried. “Nothing can stop the enemy’s march, and I am surely defeated.” Month after month, the evil one stung me with poisonous pessimism.

Little did I realize that I was feeding my anxiety with doubt of God’s ability. I corkscrewed into a panicked state of turmoil. No amount of self-talk repealed the vermin within my thoughts.

One day, in a flash of clarity, I remembered that anxiety, like fear, is a defeated foe. I recognized it for what it was, a world force of darkness, over which I had God-given dominion. The authority that Jesus gave me included all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). How encouraging to remember that the Trinity’s original design for His people was to rule over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Genesis 1:26). Indeed this included pesky anxiety, too.

I garnered prayer support from other anxious family members, and we committed to praying specifically against worry for one month. Each day, we stood firm, recalled who we were, and declared God’s Word.

Within days, the Father gave me another great encouragement. This time from one of my favorite authors, Watchman Nee (1903-1972). In expounding on the famous warfare verses in Ephesians 6, Mr. Nee draws our attention to these words: “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” He says that “the Greek verb “stand” with its following preposition “against” really means “hold your ground.”

There is a precious truth hidden in that command of God,” continues Watchman. “It is not a command to invade a foreign territory. Warfare, in modern parlance, would imply a command to “march.” Armies march into other countries to occupy and to subdue. God has not told us to do this. We are not to march, but to stand. The word “stand” implies that the ground disputed by the enemy is really God’s, and therefore ours. We need not struggle to gain a foothold on it.

What a revelation! I needed the reminder that I am not fighting to take enemy territory when I war on behalf of my family and church. These are lives that already belong to Christ. “For our part, we need not struggle to occupy ground that is already ours. In Christ, we are conquerors—nay, “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37). In Him, therefore, we stand. Thus, today we do not fight for victory; we fight from victory. We do not fight to win, but because in Christ we have already won” (Watchman Nee). I’m not trying to get the victory. I’m maintaining the victory Christ has already won.

Unfortunately, freedom from anxiety isn’t a once-and-done battle, and my story isn’t complete. Satan will continue to do everything in his power to muddle my mind regarding Kingdom triumph since confusion is a near relative to the spirit of anxiety. But I must stand firm, maintaining possession of the land I’ve already been given (Deuteronomy 4:1). God has not given me the spirit of anxiety but instead has given me power, love, and discernment (2 Timothy 1:7). He delights when I utilize and possess every gift He gives (meditate on Genesis 15:7; Leviticus 20:24; Deuteronomy 1:8,39; 5:31).