”Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Lockdowns and let-downs. N-95 masks and new measures. Social distancing and flattening the curve.
As a pandemic swept the globe, 2020 introduced us to unfamiliar terms that soon became household names. Countries implemented unprecedented means to slow the spread of the coronavirus and save lives. Businesses struggled. Families hunkered. Churches changed course. When uncertainty runs rampant, our emotions can become unsettled. Seasons that test our faith tempt us to succumb to fear. However, God gives us tools to pivot instead of panic.
I pray we never wage another war with a deadly virus. Yet, we will go through times of anguish and doubt. We will continue to face moments that take our breath and threaten to take our peace. The enemy wants us to become victims of our circumstances and wallow in worry. He expects us to crumble under soul-splintering conditions. He hopes the strain will be more than we can take. Yet, we are more than conquerors through Christ who gives us strength. Turn every panic moment into an opportunity to pivot. We can extract three tools from this passage to help us know how to pivot over panic.
1) Rehearse The Goodness Of God Instead Of The What- If‘s
We can go to God with prayer, petition, and thanksgiving, throughout our day and anytime we feel anxious. Choose to rehearse the goodness of His character instead of all the unknowns that may or may not happen. My piano teacher used to tell me, “Practice makes permanent,” and I share that same encouragement with my vocal students. Rehearsing our fears and potential negative outcomes leads to panic. Instead, let’s meditate on the goodness of God. The Psalms provide a template for us to trade our refrain of “what-ifs” into worship.
2) Reframe Worry Into Prayer
Worry is a negative form of prayer; it is completely counterproductive. Anxiety and prayer are two formidable opposing forces in the battlefield of our mind. Each day, anxiety and worry face off against gratitude and trust. God gives us the victory as we reframe our fearful thoughts into prayers. God knows and cares about the concerns of our heart. Pray it out in the presence of God and watch worry dissipate. If you’re feeling too overwhelmed to pray, reach out and ask others to intercede for you. When we come into agreement with God’s Word, heaven responds.
3) Release Control And Receive God’s Peace
We receive the promise of peace when we let go and let God. It seems counterintuitive to release control when things around us seem out of control. When panic sets in, we tend to squeeze even tighter when God wants to surrender. When we believe He is in control, we can hand over anything that weighs us down. After the emergency broadcast system interrupts your favorite television program with a blaring signal, these reassuring words fill the screen: “This was only a test.” Take heart in times of trouble; this is only a test. As we trust Him completely, His peace settles our weary hearts and troubled minds.
Many times, we can’t control what happens to us. But we can control how we choose to respond to it and what we choose to do with it. Remember we are not left without weapons and tools in our arsenal. When anxiety seeps in and we sense ourselves starting to panic, choose to pivot.