Filling the Void

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

Back in 1999, when I was at a low point in my life and anxiety was my constant companion, Matthew 6 was where I turned most to find encouragement, strength and peace in God’s Word.  Even today, twelve years on, I find the promises of Jesus in this chapter to be particularly bold.  The concluding verse, to my mind, holds one of the main keys to finding peace in your life: today deal with today, and don’t worry about the future.

Anxiety is a subject I’ve written on so many times over the years that it can be challenging to find a fresh approach to the subject.  But I heard something today that, despite being so simple and obvious, rocked me a bit. While the subject of discussion was not anxiety, there was a principle laid out that, if applied to our thought / faith life, it could be just the cure for the cares of the world.

If you a worrier, simply removing anxiety is not the answer to the problem.  If you want peace, permanent calm will not come by merely trying to stop the anxious.  That can often be like trying to stop a raging flood with a 2”x4”.

Ask any chronic worrier and they will probably tell you that anxiety can be a vortex.  Worrisome thoughts begat more worrisome thoughts which bring on more anxiety and stress and the troubles just build and build and build until your mind is clogged with them.  Get rid of one anxious thought, there is another right behind to fill the void.

And we try to fill the void in any way we can to numb the pain.  We eat ourselves into oblivion, drink like a fish, smoke like a chimney, dumb down our minds with television… anything to take our minds off our troubles.  Yet what happens when we put down the bag of cookies or booze or cigarettes or remote control?  The anxious thoughts come back.  And we end up entertaining and mentally replaying our troubles over and over until the anxiety grows into worry.  We just keep focusing on the same defeatist cycle of troubles.

Instead of focusing on the problems, focus on The Solution.  Fill yourself with God’s Word.  Invest time in God – Scripture, prayer, serving others, gratitude, praise… focus on these things.  Get so hungry for the Lord that the junk this world has to offer can’t hold a candle to the great and satisfying goodness found in Jesus Christ. 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)

So today, I want to encourage you – from the heart of one who knows how painful anxiety is – to put a Godly perspective on your troubles.  Don’t be robbed of the joy of the Lord one moment longer.  Trust God.  Put your focus squarely on Jesus.  Fill the void with the good things of the Lord, steadfastly refusing to take on the worrisome thoughts and anxious considerations (and, yes, you may have to simply, strongly refuse to take on the worrisome thoughts).  “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” – Matthew 6:34 (KJV)

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