Renewed Strength in Anxious Times

How’s you anxiety level now?  If you are completely honest, would you say that it has risen a little in 2020? 

According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary,  Anxiety is the feelings of: apprehensive uneasiness, fear, tension and self-doubt. These are feelings we all can relate too during this season of our lives.  One individual who struggles with anxiety said that all the things they feared would happen, finally did.

A few weeks before Halloween I saw a tweet where someone said they were going to the store to buy a turkey, coming home to place it in the oven and then decorating a tree so they could hurry up and say goodbye to 2020.

I personally know multiple people who have already hung Christmas lights up on their house and/or put up their Christmas tree.  The tension 2020 has brought onto our lives is pushing us to find ways to escape through activities that bring hope and joy like preparing for the holidays.  I’ve even noticed that the retail world has picked up on this and have already began their Black Friday sales.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has become a household word.  They have stated that:

  •  1 in 3 adults show symptoms of significant anxiety.
  • 41 % of the 18-29 year olds show symptoms of significant anxiety 
  • Of the 41%, 25.5% of them have already considered suicide.

And who can blame anyone from feeling the weight of anxiety in 2020?

  • COVID -19
  • Since the beginning of COVID – Anti-Anxiety Medication Prescriptions have risen by 34%. 
  • Natural Disasters.
  • Downward Spiral of Morals in Society.
  • Hidden sins of Racism coming to MainStream.
  • Some in the education field are expecting the largest exodus of teachers in history through early retirement.
  • Divided Nation – Election – This past election just shows how divided we are in the U.S.A.

With the feelings of increased anxiety often comes the wandering thoughts, “Does God understand?”  or “Am I a bad person for struggling with hope and faith right now?”

What if I told you that God understands?  In fact, He not only understands, but He has words of advice to help you through seasons of anxiety.   Even greater, what if I told you that God understands so much that He had His words of advice written down and collected together for you to read and hold on to? 

Around 700 B.C.  The times were turbulent for the people of Judah.  God had already told them through the prophet Isaiah that Judah would be invaded by the Babylonians and that they would be taken captive for a period of time.  The people were filled with anxiety.  

Look at Isaiah 40: 30, here we see the impact Anxiety had on the people of Judah…

Isaiah 40: 30, Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;

Notice how Anxiety left them feeling.  These are the same emotions you struggle with.  Anxiety leaves us feeling  FAINT…WEARY…POWERLESS

But then, the LION OF JUDAH ROARED! And God gave a Word of Hope and Instruction.

Look at Isaiah 40:31, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not faint.

“But they….”  Notice that there is a CHOICE HERE FOR YOU!  Those who choose to “wait” on the LORD shall have their strength renewed!

There are two words I want you to focus in on here, “wait” and “renew.”

First of all, notice the word, “Wait.”   This is the Hebrew word “qavah” meaning = To trust, to hope, to Bind together, to Braid.   

Think of braiding a rope. You know that one strand of rope is strong and can withstand a certain amount of strain, however, when you braid that one strand with multiple strands of rope, now the rope can withstand much greater strain.

There is a great verse in Ecclesiastes 4:12 concerning this. 

“A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Isaiah is saying that when we wait on the LORD, we are actually weaving or braiding something together to our faith in the LORD.  So let’s look at three cords that if we braid them together, God can renew our strength during anxious times. 

3 Cords to Renewed Strength…

  1. Be Honest about Where You Are.

This one seems so obvious right?  However, in the christian world, we often tread on the fine line of lying in the name of faith.  No where does God say that we are not to admit when we are weak, or tempted, or struggling with anxiety or depression.  In fact, we cannot be healed until we admit we are sick or wounded.  You can’t be free until you acknowledge you are bound. Nor, can you be strengthened until you admit that you are weak.

Now that we have identified the first cord, let’s weave that with cord number 2. 

  1. Remind Yourself What You Know About God.

Look back at Isaiah 40: 28-29, Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Notice the characteristics of God in these verses. 

God is the Infinite All Powerful Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of all.

In fact, in the New Testament we read in Jude 1:20 that we are to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. How do we do that?  We remind ourselves of the truths of God’s character. 

 I read an interesting and convicting excerpt out the book, “The Story of God Commentary”.   The excerpt says, “God is the Creator and Sustainer.  Too often we believe like theists (a personal God) and act like deists (a distant, impersonal, non-interactive, uninvolved God). “

The author goes on to say, “Anxiety is a barometer of one’s God.”

How do you overcome this?  You stir yourself up by reminding yourself who your God is!

 Now for cord #3. Make the choice to…

  1. Act Upon What You Need to Do with What You Know.

When you are honest about Where You Are (cord #1). Then Remind Yourself of What You Know About God (cord #2). Then combine that with What You Know You Need to Do, now you are positioned to have your strength renewed!

Look at the word “Renew” from verse 31.  In Hebrew is ya-hali pu (hlp) and means = “Change.” 

In fact, one expression for ya-hali pu is to change your clothes.  

Think about it.  

God is inviting you into the changing room. You go in with the worn out rags of anxiety, worry, and fear. But walk out in a new set of clothes of peace, hope, and faith

When you braid an honest evaluation of where you are, with what you know about God and then act upon what you know you need to do in order to wait or trust in God, then you…

  • FLY HIGHER
  • RUN FASTER
  • WALK LONGER

Isaiah 40: 31,  but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not faint.

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