Realize you are not in control anyway – that is an illusion.  

  • Think back over the events in your life: list the other times that you have tried to control your circumstances.  Did it work?  What was the outcome?
  • Admit that you are powerless to make your life work out the way you want it to.  (You might as well, because it’s true whether you admit it or not.)
    • Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”
    • Proverbs 21:30: “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”
    • Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
    • Proverbs 16:9: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

God wants to be first in your life.  This is the key to defeating control and anxiety: we are anxious when we want something more than we want to follow God.  Letting go of the thing we desire is terrifying (in fact, it feels a lot like dying to ourselves), but it is the only path to peace.  The paradox is, God promises that if we lose our life, that is when we will find it.  As long as we insist on controlling our lives, it will remain forever out of control.  

  • Matthew 6:33-34: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
  • Proverbs 21:21: “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”
  • Matthew 10:39: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
  • Matthew 16:25: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
  • Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
  • Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

When we let go of “trying to find our lives” (whatever the problem is that obsesses us), we will experience grief – but it is a good, healing grief.  It is a grief that leads to joy in the end, because it is the only path to life.

  • Psalm 126:5: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”
  • Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
  • Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

What to do instead: God invites you to bring your troubles to Him.  

  • Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
  • 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
  • Philippians 4:4-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  • Psalm 55:22: “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”

God is a good God; therefore you can trust Him.  He is for you and not against you; He wants good things for you.  (And He is in a better position to know what is good for you than you are.  If you doubt this, stop and think about some of the things you wanted desperately in the past and didn’t get.)

  • Isaiah 46:3-4: “You whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth.  Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
  • Jeremiah 33:41: “I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”
  • Nahum 1:7: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”
  • Isaiah 58:11: “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
  • Psalm 34:10: “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”
  • Psalm 84:11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord bestows favor and honor; No good thing does he withhold From those whose walk is blameless.”
  • Psalm 103:2-5: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits — Who forgives all your sins And heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit And crowns you with love and compassion, Who satisfies your desires with good things So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
  • Psalm 145:16-19: “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. …He fulfills the desires of those who fear him.”

Once you have brought your troubles to God, and prayed for a solution, your job is to do the very hardest thing of all, for people like us: wait, and trust that God will do what He said He would do.

  • Psalm 27:14: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
  • Psalm 37:3-5: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
  • Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
  • Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”
  • Isaiah 30:18: “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!”
  • Joel 2:25: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”
  • 2 Samuel 23:5: “Will he not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire?”
  • James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

But what if you are still supposed to do something to fix the problem?  Part of trusting God is trusting that He will tell you what to do and when to do it (if you are supposed to do anything at all).  That is why we have the Holy Spirit – he promises to guide you into ALL truth.

  • John 14:26: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
  • John 16:13: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
  • Jeremiah 33:3: “Call unto Me and I will show thee great things and difficult, which thou knowest not.”
  • Jeremiah 6:16: This is what the Lord says:  “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
  • Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”
  • Isaiah 2:3: “And he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”
  • James 1:5-8: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
  • Isaiah 30:21: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.””
  • Psalm 25:12-13: “Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord?  He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.  He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.”

When you act according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, now you are partnering with God and can have faith in the outcome.

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:11: “By his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.”
  • Isaiah 58:11: “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
  • Philippians 2:13: “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
  • Isaiah 48:17: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”