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How to Handle Anxiety, Worry, and Fear in a Godly Way

Key Passages

Philippians 4:4-9 – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

2 Corinthians 11:28 – “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.

Philippians 3:17 – “Brethren, join in following my example…”

1 Corinthians 4:16 – “I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:1 – “Be imitators of me just as I also imitate Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 1:6 – “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example o all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

2 Thessalonians 3:7 – “for you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example…”

Habakkuk 3:16-19 – “I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.”

Practical Steps

Introduction:  Fear is an acceptable sin as far as man is concerned but not before God.

In order to handle fear in a godly way you must:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord. Phil 4:4
    • Emphasized by repetition.
  2. Resolve to be gentle/patient.  Phil 4:5
  3. Remember the Lord is near. Phil 4:5
  4. Refuse to be anxious (fearful) about anything. Phil 4:6
    • Anxiety, Worry, Fear versus concern (2 Corinthians 11:28)
  5. Rely on Prayer. Phil 4:6,7
    • You must pray in every circumstance.
    • You must pray specifically. (Supplication/petition)
    • You must pray with thanksgiving.
    • And God promises peace.
  6. Rest your mind on whatever is excellent or praiseworthy. Phil 4:8
  7. Reach out and practice what is good. Phil 4:9
    • Paul is not afraid to say imitate me.  (Phil 3:17,  1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10)
    • You must practice what is good to feel good.

Conclusion:  God will guard your heart and mind with His peace.  That peace goes beyond understanding.  He, as the God of peace will go with you.  Phil 4:7,9

Application Questions

Questions and suggestions that are designed to stimulate your study and application of the text.  The Bereans “…were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  And the Apostle James tells us: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”

  • What does Paul mean when he says, “Rejoice in the Lord.”
  • When fear, anxiety, worry or depression begin to assail your thinking what practical things could you do to ‘rejoice in the Lord.’
  • Why is gentleness/forbearance/patience important when you are facing fear?
  • What are some practical steps that you can take to remind yourself that God is near when faced with fearful situations?
  • If fear, worry and anxiety are natural reactions or normal emotions how can you actually refuse to be fearful?
  • In your opinion, “Why does God allow concern to return time and time again after you have already committed it to Him in prayer?”
  • On what basis can you pray with thanksgiving when you are in the midst of anxious situations?
  • List some practical ways that you can use to ‘rest you mind on what is excellent or praiseworthy’ when you are in the midst of fearful circumstances.
  • List the 5 issues that cause the most fear in your life.
  • Now make a step-by-step plan for turning each of those fears over to God in prayer.
  • Now make a list of three positive, excellent or praiseworthy items that would counterbalance that fear.
  • Now make a list of at least two things you could do to reach out and practice good to counterbalance each fear that you listed.

Recommended Reading

  • BRIDGES, JERRY, “Trusting God,” Nav Press, 1990.  Trusting God especially when life hurts and we don’t have all the answers.  Excellent study material for the person going through deep hurts.
  • FITZPATRICK, ELYSE,  Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety, Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2001.  One of the best resources available on just what the title states.