My women's group has been reading the book "Anxious for Nothing" by Max Lucado. I highly recommend for a great and easy read. The book has so many practical ideas for Christians on overcoming anxiety and living a more joyful life that is more surrendered to God.
Rejoicing in God is the first step that Lucado talks about. Philippians 4:4 is our lovely reminder "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again rejoice." Paul is a teacher of the topic- a survivor of shipwrecks and beatings and jail scenes, yet he continues to give thanks to God and teach others to do the same. Paul says "I have learned the secret to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, wether well fed or hungry, wether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13
Why should we rejoice when we are feeling anxious? Whatever thoughts we let our mind linger on, begin to grow within us. Positive or negative- experiences, situations, and people are changing our brain structures by means of neural pathways.
We have the power to meditate on a thought or to dismiss it, to put it away. And depending on the choice we make, our brains change. Every time we repeat negative thought processes in our minds, we deepen our negative beliefs or stressors and we can even self inflict trauma or induce panic attacks.
Yet in contrast, when we train our minds to mediate on the good. When we give thanks to God in all circumstances, good things happen.
When we focus on whatever is good, whatever is lovely, whatever is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy... (Philippians 4:8) our positive neural pathways are growing. Our mood is uplifted, we often find comfort in thinking about good things and can find a calmer, more joyful presence.
This is not to say we lie to ourselves about our feelings. To ignore a feeling is to ignore a part of who we are. To shut down emotions and feelings leads us towards being a more jaded person instead of more compassionate. We all have troubles, tragedies, and even trauma. So what we do with that hardship, fear, and adversity... even as we are trying to rejoice, we are still troubled and feel pain.
It can be healthy to be sad and to feel deep sorrow. After reminding ourselves of what God has done in the past or whatever positive things we have around us, we should submit our requests to God. We should tell God about our sorrows, our problems, our fears. We should come to our heavenly Father with our grievances and we should come as we are. God doesn't want us to feel like we have to fake any specific feeling or say specific words. He wants us to feel comfortable talking to Him as we would a loving father or friend. He wants us to tell him exactly where we are at- and how we are doing- and he wants to hold us and comfort us in that place.
We come to God and we ask him for help. Now we must believe that He will help us. Truly he wants to help his children. Just how we would leave a broken car with a mechanic, we must leave our troubles to God believing He will help us take care of them. God may lead us to a solution or action that He would like us to participate in. Or He may call us to wait patiently. The important thing is that we have shared our need with God and that we believe He will carry our trouble for us. We do not have to live in this world with large burdens on our shoulders. We cannot afford to carry the weight of the world and the responsibilities are too heavy for our shoulders and our hearts. Jesus came to this world to seek and save the loss. In our moments of weakness, He offers His heart to draw close to us, He offers to carry us. He is willing to draw as close as we let Him.