What does these have in common?
They are all things that I have allowed to make me anxious in the past two weeks.
One thing that I’ve found is that having peace is so valuable. According to a Google search, most women will live about 81.1 years. According to another Google search and my mathematician skills, on average, women will spend 5.7 of these years—worrying, anxious, without peace.
Almost six years of my life… your life… wasted… worrying.
So, I said to God, “What do I need to do with this anxiety?” And I felt Him say, “Focus on the solution, not the problem.”
So, I went on a quest, searching for a Biblical example of someone who had immense peace in the face of anxiety-provoking situations.
My quest didn’t just include the Bible. I hopped on a plane and made the trek back to my childhood home. I made it my mission to wake up and watch the sunrise every single day that I was home, to be out in nature, and to search the Bible for the questions that I had.
God led me to a story that I have heard dozens of times—Daniel 6. Feel free to read the chapter on your own, but I’ll summarize here for y’all.
Daniel was a captive (prisoner of war) from a place called Judah. Even though he was in a foreign land, he was one of the top three guys in the whole kingdom. He was pretty important. Then, the king recognized him even further by planning to put him in a position that would make him more important than any other person except the king himself (verses 1-3).
If I were Daniel, I could list at least one thing that I would already be anxious about—continuing to be the best to obtain more recognition… the stress that comes with being second in command… the stress of perfection and maintaining that perfection.
The other officials became jealous, and they tried to find something wrong with Daniel’s character and actions. They couldn’t find anything that he had done wrong. He was a man of integrity (verse 4).
They finally decided that the only thing that they could fault him for would be his faith because he lived in the midst of people who were not Christians and who did not believe in his God. So, they tricked the king into making a law that said that no one in the kingdom could worship anybody or anything besides the king for 30 days, knowing that Daniel would continue to pray to God. The punishment would be death by lions (verses 5-9).
Sure enough, Daniel heard about the new law. He went home. He continued to pray with the windows open. It says he continued to pray just as he had done before, giving thanks to God. The other officials spied on him, found him praying, and went to the king (verses 10-11).
What about now? Well, if I were Daniel, I’d be anxious about doing anything that showed that I was a Christian with a law like that in place.
The king was upset that the law condemned Daniel. He tried his best to rescue Daniel, but the law was final. Daniel had to be thrown in the lions’ den… and he was (verses 12-15).
It was interesting to me as I read to see who was actually anxious and stressed in this situation—a situation that was life or death. It wasn’t the guy who was thrown into the pit with hungry lions. It was the one that was safe in a palace.
The Bible never mentions that Daniel was worried or anxious, but it mentions that the king was greatly distressed. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t eat. He stayed up instead of sleeping and worried about Daniel (verses 16-18).
As soon as the sun rose, the king ran out to the lions’ den to see if Daniel was alive. Daniel had not been touched and was brought up out of the pit. Verse 23 says no harm came to Daniel because he had trusted in God (verses 19-23).
As I applied all of this to my life, I realized that it doesn’t matter what kind of “chaos” or stress it is. Sometimes, chaos is something that we create, and sometimes, it’s a result of living in a sinful world. Sometimes, chaos is good, not bad (i.e. moving to a new state, a new job, taking care of littles ones, the daily stressors of life).
No matter what kind of chaos or stress we’re experiencing, like Daniel 6 says, our God is the LIVING God. He hears us in our distress. He sees the predicament that we are in. Daniel gives us a map for how to have peace despite anxiety provoking situations. The Living God reaches down and delivers. He is fully capable and alive.
So, what made Daniel different?
His relationship and trust in Jesus caused fear, anxiety, and worry to be nonexistent in his life.
So, first, we must have a relationship and trust in Jesus.That has to be our starting point because only He can give us true and lasting peace.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.”
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
Second, we have to go to God in prayer.There is evidence that simply talking about your problem alleviates stress. God tells us to talk to Him about our problems in order to get the weight off our chest and to return to gladness.
“Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.”
“…casting all your cares on Him, because He cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:7
Next, an attitude of gratitude can change our mindset and bring peace. Even in the midst of chaos, Daniel knew he had much to be thankful for, and he made sure to thank God.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Lastly, we have to take control of our thoughts.
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy–dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.”
“We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.”
2 Corinthians 1:9
Sunrises are conducive to self-reflection. The same with an un-disturbed lake or the peaks of mountains stretching up to the sky or the gentle breeze moving through tall grass.
It’s during these removed-from-the-busyness-of-life kind of moments that God works so greatly in my heart. In one such moment, God showed me the cycle of anxiety in my life.
I experience the joy of the Lord when I’m actively pursuing my relationship with Him.
But when life is going great, I feel like I can handle everything myself. So, I pray less. I pay less attention to my attitude and if it’s one of thankfulness and gratitude. I exercise less control over my thoughts.
When I’m praying less and paying less attention to my attitude and my thoughts, it’s so easy to forget the joy of the Lord that I once had. When I forget this joy, I find that the peace that I had also leaves… and anxiety comes creeping back.
So, on my parents’ porch, I made a resolution to pattern my Christian life after Daniel. Because I can’t lose six years of my life to anxiety. Because I can’t let anxiety rule in my life anymore.
God was the Living God in Daniel’s day, and He’s still the Living God in our day.
What better Easter message? God is the Living God, yesterday, today, and forever.