Trials, Anxiety, and Me Sermon

Anxiety, Trials, and Me

“ 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. “ James 1:2-4
I want you to stop and take an inventory of the things that you are struggling with right now. Are you struggling to keep your thoughts in check? Or is it anger, pride, greed, fear, or something else? Just get a clear picture of what it is.
Trials come in many shapes and sizes. They can be looked on as a curse or a blessing in disguise depending on our viewpoint. What is your viewpoint usually when it comes to trials? Do you look at them as a curse or a blessing? According to James, we should look at it as a blessing. In verse 3 it says that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance is a valuable trait in the Christian walk. Without perseverance Christianity would not be where it is today.
There are many tests or trials that vary from person to person, because each of us is a unique human being. I don’t know where you stand as far as trials go but today I want to talk about a trial that has been put in my life. I feel called to share this with you because of 2 Corinthians 1: 4-5 which says, “ He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the suffering of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows.” I pray that you take from this what ever God has ordained to be put on your hearts.
The trial that has been put in my life is ANXIETY and it has been something that I’ve had to deal with as long as I can remember. Before we have Jesus as the foundation of our lives when we endure trials we stand alone. Sure, you might think that you aren’t alone because you have your parents or friends, but even they are only human. To endure trials we need the super-natural power, grace, patience, and love that comes only from the Holy Spirit.
I can personally attest to this. When I was a young girl, struggling with intensive fear, fear of new things everything from sleepovers to birthday parties, to going to the movie theater. Anything that wasn’t routine I wanted my parents to be able to ‘cure’ me of this. Sure they tried, and it wasn’t though they did a bad job, in fact they did a pretty good job, it was just that they didn’t fully understand the situation. They thought that I would make myself feel sick before I went to a birthday party just to get out it. But the fear was so intense, it felt real. The only one who fully understood me inside and out was and is Jesus but it took me some time to realize that only He could help me work through this trial.
My eyes were opened to the amazing healing of Jesus when one day I had an anxiety attack about a basketball game that I was going to be in, while I was sleeping over at my Mimi’s. God used my Mimi, who is in prayer counseling to minister to me and open my eyes to the world of prayer journaling. This literally changed my life, I have changed so much. I was saved before my Mimi helped me but once she prayer ministered to me this started the process of fully trusting and relying on God’s providence to get me through difficult times. As I said before, anxiety is still a trial that is in my life but this trial produces perseverance and by God’s grace is drawing me closer to Him. I am still learning what it means to rest in His perfect love because I know that “18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
In this sermon I want talk about how to address anxiety and other trials that you might be facing
The first, most important thing to do when dealing with anxiety is to recognize that it does not come from God. That’s what Satan wants you to think. In truth God does not want us to be troubled or fearful John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” Satan wants us to be deprived of the peace that is ours because we are God’s people. Psalm 29:11 “ The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with Peace.” God promises to bless those whose minds are steadfast in Him, “ You keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
The next most important thing is to lean on your Rock and Redeemer in times of struggle. When I feel anxiety coming on I just cry out to Abba and He helps me. I know that God never changes, He is my Rock and the foundation of my life. “ 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4. Trust in God and He will bring peace to your heart, rely on only Him because nothing else can be trusted so completely. When people try to rely on other people or the government most of the time something goes wrong or it fails completely. That is because people are sinful, and will make mistakes God is sinless and never makes mistakes.
God strengthens us when we are weak. When trials and tribulations come our way we need to remember the truth that comes from Isaiah 41:10 “ 10 So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God will help us in the things that we struggle with, don’t feel like you have to do it all by yourself. Part of the joy of being a Christian is knowing that we always have God to strengthen us when we feel unequipped for a task that has been placed before us.Call on God in your weakness and He will strengthen you.
Rest in the fact that God is our salvation and light in this dark world. “The Lord is[our] light and salvation- whom should[we] fear?” Psalm 26:12. When troubles come we need to look through ‘Light’ Glasses. What I mean by that is look at the situation through the eyes of God[ As much as we as sinful human beings can]. How do we accomplish this? We can do this by reading our Bible. It’s so important to be constantly in the Word. Reading the Bible is important because it is ALIVE. In Spanish one of the words for the Bible is Verbos which sounds like our word verb doesn’t it? Verb, as you know, is an action word. Therefore the Word of God is Living, and inspired by God, which is why it’s so powerful.
Remember that we are God’s children and co-heirs with Christ. God has not bound us in fear but has given us a Spirit of adoption. Paul writes to the church of Romans to encourage them and remind them that they are adopted by God. “ For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “ Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ-seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8: 15-17. Before we had a personal relationship with Jesus we were sons and daughters of the world. The world was an unfit parent. It taught us to fear, have anger, and be immoral. When God saw us being mislead by the world, he decided to send His only Son, to open up an opportunity for all people to be His children. God wants us to live in the peace that as a Parent he has gifted us because we are His children and He is our Abba.
Pray constantly. When a trial arrises pray. “ Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. When I was fearful, as I mentioned before my Mimi helped me through prayer counseling and giving me a prayer journal to jot down notes to God. This is particularly helpful if you are a person who struggles with hearing the voice of God. Prayer journalling allows one to collect their thoughts and write down what God responds. Then in the future, you can look back on the way God answers your prayers and remember that in hard times.
Take your trials one day at a time. Focus on doing your best TODAY. Jesus puts it this way in Mathew 6:34, “ Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I agree wholeheartedly, each day does indeed have enough worry without having another day’s worry packed on top of it. Just focus on one day at a time.
Face trials with courage. Joshua 1: 9 says, “ Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” This is particularly important when facing anxiety. One of my favorite quotes is in the movie Princess Diary “ Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” When we realize that resting in the perfect peace that comes from God is more important than fear, it doesn’t mean that the fear won’t be there. It means that we push past our fear to accomplish the great plans that God has for us, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” Declares the Lord, “ Plans to help, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
Trials, besides building perseverance for us, are also meant to show God’s glory to other people. People will wonder why when you are going through a tough time in your life, you have a positive outlook. You’ll then be able to tell them it’s through Christ Jesus and Him alone. So in order for people to see the grace that God has extended to you and to increase God’s glory, we need to remain strong through Christ Jesus. During times of affliction, we need to remember that even though we are going through a tough time now, it’s only temporary. What really matters is the things that last for eternity, therefore if we are able to bring people to Jesus through our struggles we are making a difference that will last FOREVER. Paul puts this best in 2 Corinthians 4:15-18, “ Indeed, everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase God’s glory. Therefore do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
I want to end with the last verse of 2 Thessalonians. “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.”