Breaking Free From Anxious Thoughts

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

By: Rebecca Feere

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The past two years have made one thing clear – we are not in control of our circumstances. For those who know and love Jesus, this is not new news; the Bible repeatedly declares that God is the One who controls ALL things (1 Chron. 29:11-12; Job 42:2). Considering rapidly changing news headlines, lock downs, health protocols, etc., you may find your mind racing with many “what-if” scenarios about the future. Living in fear of the future does not align with Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 6: 25-34). But how do we as believers stop the toxic spiral of negative or “what-if” thinking when the circumstances of life seem to be getting harder? How do we renew our minds as we are instructed in Romans 12:2? Can we really live and “not be anxious about anything” (Phil. 4:6)?

Thankfully God didn’t tell us not to be anxious and then leave us to figure out how to overcome these “what-ifs” on our own. Philippians 4 gives us two concrete ways to overcome our anxious thoughts. 1) Choose to be grateful (v.6), and 2) Choose to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (v.8).

I recently listened to Katherine Wolf speak. (You may learn more about her story at One of her closing points was that we need to develop a ridiculous amount of gratitude for our lives – NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Katherine Wolf struggles to walk on her own. She says she is not “wheelchair-bound.” She chooses to see her wheelchair as a vehicle to her freedom – it is a tool that enables her to live the life God has planned for her! Now that is choosing to think about what is true and praiseworthy.

As a young girl in grade school, my English teacher had the class make a title page for each new unit of study. At least once a year, one of those title pages included Philippians 4:8. Admittedly, I was more concerned about getting all those words to fit and making my page look nice, colour-coordinated, and symmetrical (this was done by hand, with pencil crayons). A few years ago, that verse took on new meaning when a speaker at a ladies’ conference listed all those qualifications for what we are to think about. She brought to our attention who or what those adjectives perfectly describe – Jesus. One key to stopping the “what-if” thoughts is to train our minds to think about Jesus and what He has done for us!

The “what if” scenarios are where my mind naturally gravitates. I have to be intentional to think about what I am thinking. Here are some questions that I have recently learned to ask myself about my thoughts (taken from Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen, p. 114-115)

– Grab the thought – What is the thought?

– Diagnose the thought – Is it true?

– Take it to God – What does God say about this thought?

– Make a choice – Am I going to believe God?

The key here is to remember we have a choice. We can choose to live as victims of our circumstances, or we can choose to live in the victory that is ours because of Jesus. Because His Spirit lives in us, we can choose to renew our minds and ground our hearts in the truths of Scripture. There is abundant hope in knowing Jesus. He is the One Who never changes (Heb. 13:5)!

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