Happy November! As we anticipate Thanksgiving here in America, I felt it would be appropriate to focus on thankfulness and gratitude. Today, I specifically wanted to focus on practicing gratitude to overcome anxiety.
A Continual Personal Struggle
I’ve shared a few times this year about my own struggles with anxiety. I posted back in February about continually finding perfect peace in God’s Word. And soon after in March, I wrote about practical steps to overcoming anxiety according to Philippians 4. Learning to battle anxiety has been quite the process and I know many of you can relate.
Since writing those posts earlier this year, I have been on the frontlines of the anxiety battlefield – determined to cultivate a life marked by joy, not one marked by fear and anxiety. To be clear, joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is circumstantial, whereas joy is not. To be joyful is to be filled with an inner peace and confidence in who Christ is and what He promises. In these uncertain times in our world, overcoming anxiety is a continual battle but it’s one worth fighting. And thankfully in Christ, it is not a battle we have to fight alone or in our own strength.
As believers, we should be coping with anxiety in different ways than the world does. One of the key ways I’ve been filled with greater joy is by practicing gratitude to overcome anxiety.
Practicing Gratitude to Overcome Anxiety
For many weeks, I had been meditating on memorized Scripture in my head. But, early one anxious morning, feeling like I had lost all control of my thoughts, I remembered 2 Timothy 1:7. That verse reminds us that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self-control. By the power of the Holy Spirit in me, I knew I could regain control of my thoughts.
As I continued meditating on Philippians 4:4-9, I focused on verse 6. Which says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (emphasis added) The prescription for anxiety is prayer – specifically: gratitude. I had Scripture memorized to help me combat anxiety, but that was only the first step. I needed to apply it.
In my moments of anxiety, the Spirit would remind me to think of whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (Philippians 4:8). I knew I needed to focus on the good in my life, but it was so hard to pull myself out of the pit simply in my thoughts. So, I decided to get more proactive. I began carrying a little notepad around with me and when I felt anxious, I would write praises and words of thanks to God. The greater the anxiety, the more I would write. Within a day, I felt loads better. That one change made a world of difference.
When we are anxious, it should prompt us to examine ourselves – to ask God to reveal what’s not right within us. If you are anxious ask: God, what truth about you am I not fully trusting? Repent of your unbelief and accept Christ’s forgiveness. Humble yourself before Him. Allow Him to reveal what’s not right in your heart and be willing to change and grow.
What truth about God are you not fully believing?
Could this be contributing to your own anxiety? Pray the Holy Spirit will deepen your trust in Him and His promises.
How will you start practicing gratitude to overcome anxiety?
Overcoming anxiety starts with repentance. So, confess and ask God to help you change. Maybe you’re like me and need to do something a bit more tangible and visual to practice gratitude. Will you keep a little notepad? Write in a journal? Stick post-it notes around your home?
Ask Jesus to strengthen you as you battle anxiety and focus on gratitude. Trusting who He is and what He promises will be a game changer. Will you commit to memorizing Scripture to deepen your trust and gratitude for who He is, what He has done, and promises He will do?
Focus on prayer and progress, not perfection. We may never fully be released from anxiousness in this lifetime, but we can grow in how we respond. When anxious thoughts creep into our minds, we can choose gratitude. We can choose to trust in the Spirit of power, love, and self-control to strengthen us. (2 Timothy 1:7)
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Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.