BY LYN PACKER
Dealing with worry, questions and fears
In the midst of all we’re going through, God is calling us to examine ourselves – our thoughts, our actions, and our lifestyles. He is urging us to be intentional about stewarding our thoughts, renewing our minds so we think with the mind of Christ and live in alignment with Kingdom values and the new nature that we have been given in Christ.
In regard to stewarding our thoughts – how do we deal with worry, doubts, questions and fears?
God said to Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh 1:9
Sounds like great advice, but if we’re honest I sometimes find it real hard to do, especially with all that’s happening around us at the moment.
God does tell us many times in the Bible not to fear (Josh 1:9; Psa 56:3-4; 2 Tim 1:7; Eph 6:10-18). This shows us that fear is something that is common to all mankind. It also shows us that we have the potential to take worries and fear on board and live with them as if they have the right to take up habitation in us.
We’re currently facing things globally that we never dreamed we’d face and let’s be honest, our minds are presented daily with the chance to give in to all sorts of worries, questions and fears. As Christians we’re not immune to that happening, but God has given us the power and ability to make our thoughts work for us, not rule over us or work against us. Believe it or not, there are actually incredible treasures to be found in this time of pressure, doubt, fear, and questioning, if we know how to find them.
Don’t believe everything you think
I’d love to share with you some stuff that has helped me, and I pray it will help you too.
One of the cool things I discovered years ago, and it was a huge help to me, is the knowledge that not all my thoughts originate with me.
Therefore, I should not automatically accept or believe everything I think.
Neither should you!
That doesn’t mean we should become paranoid and begin to distrust our thoughts and minds, it simply means that we need to realise this fact, and be mindful and aware of what we’re thinking. Researchers tell us that a person averages between 6000 and 6200 thoughts a day1. Wow! That a whole lot of thoughts, so it’s no wonder we sometimes operate on auto-pilot and aren’t mindful of all we think.
Our mind is actually an incredibly powerful receiver and processor. Several years ago scientists discovered that we have three brains – a head brain, a heart brain, and a gut brain2. They work together to form our ‘mind’, collating and processing the information that our senses pick up and send to us, from both the natural and spiritual realms. As well as processing information that our senses send it, our mind processes information from the four main voices, or powers, that speak into our lives on a daily basis. These voices feed us information about ourselves and the world we live in, and we also hold internal conversations with them. With practice and growth in discernment we can learn to recognize which voice is which. Because many of the conversations we have with these powers take place internally in our mind, we can mistakenly think that they are simply our own thoughts. I did for many years, and you may have done so too.
Let’s look at the four sources our thoughts can come from. Those powers and voices are:
1. The voice of our own individual soul/flesh – our personal values, perspectives, desires, wants, prejudices, etc. These are formed by our responses to what we learn and is modelled to us from different sources of input – our parents, our school years, friends, church beliefs, and culture, etc. Our mind can be renewed by Christ or can be carnally ruled and focused (Rom 8:7; Rom 12:1-2).
2. The voice of the world – speaks from the current prevailing mix of godly and ungodly values, perspectives, cultural norms, etc. These change over time, so the things the world thought fifty years ago are quite different to what they think now. These values are formed by people’s beliefs (Christian and humanistic or post-Christian) and spread through influencers which can include the church (individuals and the institution), the demonic realm (Eph 2:1-3), cultural peer groupings, social-media influencers, TV, movies and the arts, news sources, governments, etc.
3. The voice of the enemy of our soul –the kingdom of darkness uses deception, lies, bluff, and speaks from its base desire to steal, kill, and destroy. Satan ultimately desires to turn people against God, and each other, bring them into bondage and destroy all that is good and full of hope in people’s lives (John 8:44; 10:10; 2 Cor 11:14).
4. God’s voice – the Trinity, the Kingdom of Heaven. The Trinity are full of love, hope, are trustworthy, faithful merciful etc. They desire our good and do not seek to control or manipulate in any way (Ex 34:6-7; Num 23:19; 1John 4:8; Jam 1:17; 1 Cor 13; Gal 5:22; Phil 4:8; 1John 1:5).
How we deal with the four voices
While we may not be able to control what thoughts enter our head, we can control what happens once they do, and that will determine whether we steward them well and gain mastery over them or they gain mastery over us.
Right now, life is tough, and we’re facing things many of us have never faced before. Doubt, questions and fear are coming at us like a battering ram at times. So how do we handle it and stand strong in Christ?
· Put your trust in the Lord. Can I encourage you, search out and discover who the Trinity are, what their character and nature is. They are trustworthy, kind, faithful and full of goodness and love. They care for you, have promised to never leave you or forsake you, to be your strength, your strong tower and protection and more. They have made provision for all you need – from practical provision to wisdom, and they are not stingy in sharing. Be anchored in that reality.
· Take your thoughts captive. Taking your thoughts captive isn’t about denying that you have them, pushing down your thoughts and emotions; It’s about facing your fears and questions, taking hold of them and examining them, and then working to change them if they need changing, so you can think and function from a renewed mind. You have the right to decide what stays and gets established in your heart and mind. The Lord encourages us to steward our heart and mind and to take captive the thoughts that don’t agree with who He says we are in Him, or with who He is (2 Cor 10:5).
· Resist the enemy. The enemy of your soul is not someone to be afraid of. He is not as big and powerful as he pretends to be. In Christ you have more power than he does and way more authority. God tells us to stand firm, clothed in the armour He gives us (Eph 6:8-10), empowered by Him, and to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7). You have the authority to do so in Christ; use that authority! (Matt 10:1; Mark16:17)
· Spend time talking things through with the Lord. Be honest and real – He can handle your doubts, your fears etc. and He wants you to be able to talk them through with Him. He wants to give you wisdom and to exchange those fears and doubts for rest, peace, strategic insight, a sound mind, healing, fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit’s power, and more.
· Ask the Lord for anchors from Scripture. Spend time reading the Bible and letting God’s words fill you with hope. Ask the Lord to give you personal promises from the Bible that can anchor you, so you are not swept around in the storm. As you meditate on these verses they become be a powerful reminder that is written on your heart and mind, an anchor that holds you steady.
· Intentionally examine your doubts, questions and fears. Make use of your God-given curiosity and love of discovery. Those doubts, fears etc. are pointing to areas where you need a upgrade in both understanding and your revelation and experience of God – His nature and character. Ask questions of yourself and of your doubts etc – What are you actually afraid of? What beliefs about yourself, the world, God etc. are hidden underneath that need changing, so that you see from your new Covenant nature, not from old beliefs and habitual mindsets? Make your thoughts work for you not against you, use them to help you renew your mind so your life is transformed. This way you mine the treasure that is waiting to be found in those doubts, questions and fears.
· Spend time with encouraging people. Make sure you spend time with people who have wisdom, and a hope-filled, God sourced and centred viewpoint. Why? Because God is planning on making this time work for good. That’s His promise. He is not planning on a dystopian future where the world dissolves into anarchy, terror, fear, and an ‘every man for himself’ attitude!
· Don’t listen to everyone’s opinion. You have the right to tell people that you don’t want to talk about certain things, especially if you feel they are trying to push their opinions on you. Don’t listen to doom and gloom soothsayers and false prophets who promote and spread fear through what they share. Also, you don’t have to watch everything your friends or acquaintances send you in messenger etc. Most of what they send you will be simply reinforcing and spreading their personal beliefs; they rarely send viewpoints from both sides of an issue. Do your own research, looking at credible sources of information.
I hope these things are some help. God is for you and He wants to resource you and help you. He is not against you, He wants you to prosper in both mental and physical health in this time we are going through. He has strategy and wisdom to give you as you turn to Him. Make the most of the chance to reframe how you see things and to mine the treasure your doubts and fears are offering you. Your doubts and fears are precious, they are full of chances to experience the Lord’s goodness and provision, and to be transformed into an overcomer. Thank Him for them, explore them and make them work for you!