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The Secret of a Non-Anxious Life


Jesus hugging Mary

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:26-28 ESV)


The world we live in is filled with anxiety and stress and grief. It is a fallen, broken world, and navigating it without God and without loving relationships leaves us empty and stressed and depressed. We are very likely today to be stressed by inflation and financial pressure. We can be anxious when we see things like school shootings or violent political demonstrations or war in Ukraine or Israel. Some are depressed or angry over uncontrolled immigration or the opioid epidemic or climate change. Others fight the battle of a debilitating or terminal illness or the death of a loved one. In this context, suicide rates are up and some of us find ourselves hanging on by a thread.


Where can a person find peace in the turmoil and choas? I have found peace in the presence and assurance of God's Holy Spirit, dwelling in my heart and comforting my soul.


When Jesus was with His disciples the night He was arrested, He promised them a Helper would come.


“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:25-27 ESV)


One of the meanings of the Greek word for Helper in this text is Comforter. When we grieve, God's Spirit comforts us. When we are stressed, the Presence of Jesus brings us peace that is not like the peace the world gives. When we are anxious and troubled to the point we don't even know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, turning our tears into prayers. (Romans 8:26 above)


I experienced this comforting Presence in January of 2000 when my dad died. God comforted me directly by His Spirit and through the love and support of my wife and family and church family. The Comforter came again in the same ways in March of 2017 when my mom passed. He showed up big time when our son was diagnosed with cancer in his 20's and had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Thankfully it was treatable and he is healed of it. And that same Holy Spirit comes in the everyday stresses of life to assure me that God has not abandoned me and that nothing can separate me from His love in Christ Jesus.


I have found that the first part of the secret of a non-anxious life is welcoming the Presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit into my life. Opening my heart to the Spirit of Jesus and bringing all things to Him in prayer opens the door for the peace of God that surpasses all human comprehension (Philippians 4:6-7) I am never alone, whatever I face, and that is deeply comforting beyond my ability to put into words.


And I have found that the second part of the secret of a non-anxious life is surrender. This one is harder, I think. At some level, we are all control freaks. We want to control our lives. We want to control our decisions. We want to control our outcomes. Or we want God to control all that and work in such a way that we never experience pain or discomfort or heartbreak. The thought of giving over control of our lives to God runs counter to our intuitive taking care of number one. And besides, if I surrender to God He might call me to be a missionary in Africa or somewhere. (Go to YouTube and search for Please Don't Send Me to Africa by Scott Wesley Brown)


But release and peace come to the one who surrenders most deeply to the King of kings. The Holy Spirit is able to minister comfort and peace to the person who loves Jesus so much that the answer in our spirit is "Yes, Lord" instead of "You've got to be kidding. No way." Surrender leaves room for God to work in our moments of deepest brokenness and pain to use all things - even harsh, evil things - to bring His best into our lives.


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)


Does all this mean we will never experience anxiety or grief or stress? Of course not. We are human and we still live in a broken, fallen world. But in the midst of the stresses and griefs of life, we will find the Presence of the Comforter, who whispers "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." And He is enough.

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