What do you do when you know you’re free but you feel bound? Confused? Tormented?
On one hand you’re living this fearful, anxious reality, but on the other hand you see the reality found in the scriptures. You don’t have the peace that Jesus paid for, and you know something isn’t quite right.
The following guide summarizes a message on fear, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts from evangelist David Diga Hernandez of Spirit Church. Just like you, David’s battled with mental issues in his past. He’s been there. I’ve been there. To an extent we’ve all been there.
If you’re well acquainted with the intricacies of anxiety and know what it means to struggle in your mind, then this word is for you. Receive this message with hope and allow God’s truth to change your life.
Read the blog post, watch the message, and be encouraged.Jackie
how to rest in God’s truth: a guide for the anxious believer
God didn’t create us to live with anxiety, depression, OCD or intrusive thoughts.
These are the very issues that Jesus bled and died for; so you can overcome them. Take a moment and let that sink in. Yes, you too can one day say, I used to struggle with this, or I used to struggle with that.
“Compulsive thoughts and behaviors occur when we don’t understand the connection between correlation and causation.” -David Diga Hernandez
Our mind gets consumed with the ideas that, “If I don’t do this then that’s going to happen,” “Or this is happening to me because I’m doing this.”
I recently battled with an intrusive thought that wouldn’t go away. As my heart grew closer and closer to the Lord, I began to feel quite exposed.
I remember praising God one morning earlier this year. That morning I had felt such an “open heaven” above me. Something had shifted in the atmosphere, and I had never felt freer and more open to God than I did in that moment.
It scared me to be that close to God, to be honest.
So I instinctively put up a barrier between me and the Lord, with the most foul, intrusive thought. This horrible thought wouldn’t go away, and would rear its ugly head every time I began to worship the Lord. I just couldn’t control it.
But you know what? Every time the thought came and I wanted to flee His presence in shame, God held me tighter. All I wanted to do was run and say “don’t look at me.” But He gripped me, as if to say, “Don’t go. I love you.” Every time.
So I let go of the shame and pressed into Him, repenting and surrendering the thought to Him each time. It became a sort of ritual, until I finally let go of the fear surrounding the thought, and then it began to fade away. Now I can worship and praise God freely without fear.
As believers who struggle mentally, we start to wonder if we’re doing enough to get free.
We ask, “Am I praying enough? Am I singing to Jesus enough? Did I cast out the right demon?” We become superstitious, thinking we’re being spiritual, striving to be free.
I remember when I struggled with insomnia every night, I started taking communion before bed. Pretty soon if I didn’t take it, or didn’t worship God long enough, I became anxious and fearful. I had to get up and go take communion, otherwise I felt I would leave myself open for spiritual attacks during the night.
I had become superstitious, casting out devils to and fro, rebuking this and claiming authority over that.
Pretty soon every thought and every dream became fearful.
Every noise was the enemy, and any rogue thought was planted there by the devil. I was trapped in a mindset of fear that needed to be broken.
Religious thinking becomes superstitious thinking when we become paranoid about our paranoia; we become bound by our worry that we’re bound.-David Diga Hernandez
Searching for freedom, I had overcomplicated things; when all I really needed was to get back into the simplicity of the Word and trust God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.Galatians 5:23
Peace belongs to you. It’s a gift of the Spirit and fully yours.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.Colossians 3:15
I’ve found that I can never exhaust God’s peace. His peace is always there and readily available. But to experience that peace, I have eliminate those things that choke it out.
6 ways we eliminate the barriers to God’s peace.
Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.Matthew 11:28-30
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.Isaiah 53:5
1. We obey God.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.1 John 4:18
Perfect love expels all fear. We have to remember that God never withholds His peace from us. It’s not in His nature. It’s our fearful mindset that blinds us to the love of God and His peace.
We have to ask ourselves if there’s something we’re believing about God that simply isn’t true.
I ask God to search my heart daily. When I find myself so discouraged that I don’t want to talk to God, then there’s something I’m believing in my soul about God or myself that just isn’t true. That’s when I meditate on these truths about God and about who I am in Him.
Meditating on the scriptures allows me to reconnect with God’s heart. When this happens, I notice the grip of self condemnation or offense towards God loosens, and my heart becomes soft and pliable once again.
I may shed a tear, or say something like, “OK God, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was believing this about you. I forget that you are good and your thoughts toward me never change. The devil may be telling me you’re annoyed or angry with me, or that I’m not doing enough, but I know those accusations fall flat when I read your truths and believe them; it’s then that I am set free.”
Next we have to ask ourselves if we’re in willful sin.
Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.1 John 5:3
You can’t live in sin and live in peace at the same time. The sin in your life contradicts the peace in your mind.
Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live.2 Peter 3:11
But there is no peace for the wicked, says the Lord.Isaiah 48:22
We eliminate most of the anxiety in our lives by getting right with God.
Secret sins, such as undealt with lust, produce anxiety in us. It causes us to question our right standing with God and then, there goes all our peace. If we learn to obey his commands and commit ourselves to God, then we eliminate most of the anxiety in our lives.
And yes, turning from sin does require obedience. But Jesus, with unfailing patience, love and kindness, always gives us the grace to overcome. He’s calling us to a new level of holiness. So let’s lean into Him and turn from our wicked ways.
2. We pray.
This may sound trivial, or even insulting as you’ve probably heard this before. We often hear from well meaning friends and family members that we just need to pray. Know there is truth to this; but some issues require more attention than a quick prayer.
No, your loved ones aren’t brushing you off. Take it from someone who’s seen the tremendous power of prayer in her life; prayer works.
You may say, “I’ve done nothing but pray and seek God. Nothing’s changed.”
Did you know that many times we pray out of frustration instead of faith? You may be praying from the flesh, from a place of fear instead of a place of rest.
If you find yourself going to God saying, “Lord, just take this from me! Why does this always happen to me??!”; then you’re praying from a place of hopelessness and despair, not faith.
God says my grace is sufficient for you.
He says I’m going to give you the strength to overcome this. God gives us the grace to overcome our weaknesses and then works everything out for our good; thus shaming the devil over and over again. Amen!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6&7
Have you been praying for a breakthrough in your mind, and wondering where is God?
Yes God brings breakthrough, but there are some issues that can’t be ignored or cast out. You can’t cast you out of you. I’m learning now, that we have to learn to discipline the flesh.
If you’ve fasted, prayed and have been prayed over a situation, and nothing’s changed; it’s not demonic, it’s the flesh. It’s life’s circumstances that are causing the fear.
For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.Psalm 103:14
But guess what happens when we pray?
We weaken the flesh through prayer; which means fear and anxiety lose their influence over us.
I’ve never met anyone who had a strong prayer life, a strong devotion to the Word, who obeyed God, that suffered under the oppression of these issues.David Diga Hernandez
Its one thing to have fear, but does that fear have you? Take inventory of your spiritual walk. Is there a lack in prayer, devotion to the Word, or obedience toward God?
This is not to condemn, but to point out an area in our lives that may need adjusting. Know that it is impossible to accomplish nothing in prayer. As you sit down to pray, remind yourself of this truth: Regardless of how I feel, something always breaks off of my life when I pray.
Get back to the basics.
Decide to commit yourself to prayer to see true breakthrough. Refuse to stay in that defeated, hopeless place, saying, “I’ve already tried that, it just didn’t work.”
Prayer is not something you try, like medication.David Diga Hernandez
You either commit to it or you don’t. And if you find yourself hopeless again…well, have you stopped praying? Why? We have to pray daily in faith, asking the Lord to break off our fearful mindset.
If you experience anxiety daily, then why aren’t you praying daily?
Come in faith. Engage your faith. And persist in His truth.
As we persist in prayer, we weaken the flesh. Offering faith-filled, heartfelt prayers to God allows us to lean on His strength and not our own. Persistent prayer is not striving, but coming into agreement with God who constantly pleads for us.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.Romans 8: 26-27
When I first read Romans 8:26, I was consumed with gratitude. Can you imagine the gift, honor, and grace involved in the Spirit’s intercession for us? Intercession means to “act on the behalf of someone else.” The Spirit does this for us every single time we pray. What comfort we can gain from this amazing knowledge.Sarah Frazer, crosswalk.com
3. We trust.
Hurry and worry destroy us, and anxiety causes us to lose our trust in God. So learn to relax and trust in Him.
One of the most spiritual things you can do is relax.David Diga Herenandez
Trusting God is not a feeling, but a decision you choose to make everyday.
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25
And worry is a useless attempt at control.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Philippians 4:8
Yes, you can control your thoughts. I heard someone say once, thoughts are like birds. They may fly over your head, in which you have no control, but you do control where they land.
Even now, I find myself picking up what I had already given to God. I’ll give a situation to Him and then experience His peace, and leave praising God. But later on I’ll begin to think about it again and pick it right back up. But God encourages me to give it to Him again.
God is teaching me to meditate on His love and faithfulness. There’s a song lyric that goes:
I will build my life upon your love, it is a firm foundation.Build My Life by Pat Barrett
If a thought comes across my mind, I ask: what does God’s love say about this?
God’s love says, “I am more than a conqueror. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.”
It also says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”
What on earth do I have to fear? Who can do what to me?
As a believer in Jesus Christ, what do we have to fear? Punishment? We know there’s no condemnation for those who follow Jesus. Death, hell? Eternal life is our inheritance as believers.
If we’re killed, we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. There may be temporary pain, of course, but even then, it’s only temporary.
Even more, when I’m right with God through Jesus Christ, anything that can happen and will ever happen to me, will work out for my benefit.
And all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purposes.Romans 8:28
God is not sitting there with his arms folded watching you from a distance as you go through your various trials and tribulations.
Even those trials you go through as a result of your own actions or inactions, know that God is working those for your good. When you begin to walk in obedience towards God, you experience the power of the Holy Spirit that will keep you during your most difficult circumstances.
Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.Psalm 119:165
4. We worship.
How can I focus on what worries me if my attention is on the Lord? When my mind is fixed on Jesus, I’m free. I’m free to think about Jesus while I worship. You can’t worship Jesus and battle fear and anxiety at the same time.
If fear is a fire then worship is an ocean.David Diga Hernandez
Demons can’t swim in the depths of God’s love, and anxiety can swim there either. When you worship, you are ascending above all the things that cause fear and anxiety.
We sometimes think we have to talk everything out and address all our individual fears. But when we do that, we come up with a hundred more things to fear!
When we are under a fearful mindset, we train our minds to search for things to worry about. Until we deal with the root of the issue, the moment we resolve a fear, another one pops up.
Don’t surrender your mind to your next thought.David Diga Hernandez
I used to think I needed an answer for every spiritual question.
But if you’ve followed the Lord for any length of time, you’ve learned that God gives you the answers you need, not necessarily the ones you want.
Sometimes the answer is, “Just trust Me.” Needing an answer for every spiritual question is superstition in disguise as spirituality; causing us to obsess, forfeiting our trust in God.
Grab hold of your thoughts and stop reaching for the next fear. Religious thinking will destroy you. Keep your mind on the Lord and get lost in the worship of God. He wants to give you a brand new heart. Simplify your struggle and worship Him.
5. We think truthfully.
Our minds are powerful. When we meditate on the worst that can happen, we create problems by training our minds to fear.
God doesn’t want us to obsess over the things in our lives. “I had this strange dream, or someone said this to me, and now its in my spirit…” Unwanted feelings and thoughts do not need our attention every time they come to our head. Let’s begin to think truthfully.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.John 8:32
Think truthfully. Think soberly. And thank Jesus for the freedom He paid for.
You are filled with the Holy Spirit. You belong to Jesus. You’re free, so there’s no need to think like you’re bound. God’s Word tells us that these things works; we either believe it, or we don’t.
Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.Romans 3:4a
6. We persist.
I’ve noticed that when I’m not walking in step with the Lord, I begin to incline towards my flesh. And like those of us who carry a tendency to be anxious, I start to lose my peace.
Let go of the notion that you’ve already tried it God’s way, and persist in Him.
Obeying, praying, trusting, worshipping, thinking truthfully and persisting in the love of God works every time. Don’t give up, son and daughter of God.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.Galatians 6:9
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.Romans 14:17
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6
How to Defeat Anxiety and Intrusive Thoughts
Highlights from the YouTube comments:
“Friendship with the Holy Spirit is so important in those moments.”
“Amen! Let the truth reign over my thoughts. I captivate my thoughts that gives me fear or I resist it by confessing the word of God and by meditating the scriptures or by singing it until it gets through my spirit and peace take it over.“