If you are going to live in peace, it’s not going to happen by accident. Every day you have opportunities to get upset, to be offended and to be worried. Life happens. People get on your nerves, unexpected bills, a family member is in the hospital, the kids mess up the house, and your spouse is inconsiderate. If you wait for all your circumstances to calm down and people to do what’s right to have peace and to stop worrying, you will be waiting your whole life. God never promised you that He would keep you from difficulties. He never said that you wouldn’t have storms, but He did say He would give you peace in the midst of the storm. He calls it a peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). That means despite what is going on around you, you can experience peace within you.

Managing your anxiety God’s way will require growth and awareness of how big and mighty your God is. Your incredible heavenly Father is closer than you think. He is near and dealing with your fears, worries, doubts, frustration, and problems in life demand that you are aware of the presence of your God.

Let me show you something. Look at Philippians 4:4-9.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is nearDo not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things. As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (NASB)

Paul does something interesting. In the mix of how to deal with anxiety he says, the Lord is near. Why would Paul say that in the middle of his teaching about dealing with anxiety and experiencing God’s peace? It helps to see this in context.

  • If the statement the Lord is near is connected to what was just said in verse 5 then you can say, “I can exhibit a gentle spirit in all circumstances because of the nearness of the Lord.”
  • If you connect it to the following statement in verse 6 then you can say, “Because of the nearness of my Lord I do not need to be anxious about anything.”

Either way, there is no need for you to let your anxieties control and govern your emotions, thoughts, and decisions.

However, you do need to be aware that the Lord is near. You have to let that truth dominate your thinking and perspective about everything. The attitude of awareness is a weapon against anxiety, especially when it comes to being aware of your Lord.

The statement, the Lord is near, refers to three important things and they all help you to manage your anxiety. It refers to the presence of the Lord, the return of the Lord, and to the glory of the Lord. Let’s look at each one and how they help you manage your anxieties.

The Lord’s presence is near

First, when the Bible says the Lord is near it is referring to the Lord’s presence is near. When near is viewed as the Lord’s presence being close it refers to God’s willingness to be near to help, guide, protect, and other things. As a follower of Jesus, you must be alert to His divine presence. The presence or absence of inner peace will be in direct proportion to your awareness of the presence of the Lord. Throughout His Word, God mentions several occasions when you will experience His nearness and presence and they all are in the context of anxiety or stress or conflict or fear. Let me show you some of them.  

When you are on His mission

Number one, you can expect to experience the Lord’s nearness when you are on mission with Him. Jesus told us what His mission is and what our mission should be in the Great Commission when He said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 20:18-20, NLT). Jesus is saying that no matter where you are, in whatever nation or country or situation I will be with you to help you make disciples. That is the mission of Jesus, to make disciples and followers of Him. When you are on mission with Jesus, He is on mission with you. When you are making disciples, He will be there to help you. If you want to experience the presence of God, then make disciples.

Making disciples can be stressful. Many people experience nervousness or fear when they talk with others about Jesus or inviting them to meet with them to discuss God’s Word and to answer life’s questions. It can be uncomfortable for many. But God says that in those moments the Lord is near. If you want to experience the presence of God, then do what He is doing and get involved in what He is involved in. Make disciples.

When you know His character

Number two, you can expect to experience the presence and nearness of the Lord when you know His character. Your God is a big God. When you study the character of God you discover that He is a good God, loving God, holy God, and gracious God. You also discover that your God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. Your God is omni-present, all-present, and ever-present. He exists everywhere at the same time. In Psalm 139, the Psalmist said to God, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me” (Psalm 139:7-10, NLT).

You cannot get away from Him. You cannot hide from Him. He knows where you are, what you are doing, what is happening in you and around you all the time. He is in your past, your present, and your future all at the same time. You are never really alone. He is always there to guide you and support you.

When you are aware of who God is and that He is present, you are more confident, gracious, and stable as you face the storms of life. You are able to be aware, calm, and present for God and for others.

We are talking about being aware of God’s presence and character. One of the reasons why some people get so stressed out is because they are not satisfied. They are not content. They stress out over money, over bills, and what they wish they could have. Look closely at what the Bible says in Hebrews 13:5, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” (NLT). For some people, the reason they love money to much is because they don’t love God enough. The reason they are dissatisfied with what they have is because they don’t know what they have in God. The presence of God and the awareness of His presence helps to be satisfied with what we already have. When you are satisfied with what you have, then you eliminate a lot of stress that comes with wanting more or not having enough. When you are aware of God’s presence and His presence deepens your satisfaction in life you are able to be aware, calm, and present for both God and others in your life.

When you take shelter in Him

Number three, you can expect to experience the nearness of the Lord when you take shelter in Him. The Psalmist understood the power and comfort that God’s presence brings. He wrote, “But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter” (Psalm 73:28, NLT). Notice he wrote, “But as for me….” When you embrace the presence of God you may be alone. As for you, God is near and you know it, but there may be others in your life that have not chosen to be near God or are aware of His presence. You may feel alone in your peace. Even if others do not choose the Lord, you do.

Then he writes, “How good it is to be near God!” There are many reasons why the presence of God is good, but one is you experience the peace of God when you are anxious about your weaknesses, worried about something that might happen, or afraid to do something that God wants you to do. It’s good to be near God. You see things differently. You evaluate situations more accurately. Problems don’t seem as big or overwhelming. The important things are more important to you. It is good to be near God.

Another reason why its good to be near God is because He becomes your shelter. The Psalmist plainly stated, “I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter.” Notice that is a choice. God gives you the ability to choose to take advantage of His presence or not. What is a shelter? A shelter is something that covers or provides protection. For example, some people have a tornado shelter. When a tornado comes, they run to the shelter to protect them from the tornado. In life, you will encounter many storms. Some of them will come in the shape of a financial storm, a illness, a tragedy, a death, or a relationship storm. When you see those storms approaching run to your storm shelter, your Sovereign Lord. When the storms come don’t run away from your shelter, run to it. If you want to be aware of the presence of God in the middle of your storm, then you need to make Him your shelter.

Conclusion

If you are going to live in peace, it’s not going to happen by accident. Every day you have opportunities to get upset, to be offended, to be worried, anxious, afraid, and nervous. But God has a different plan for you. Instead of being driven by anxiety, He wants you to be driven by His peace.

One major step toward managing your anxiety is to let the truth that the Lord is near dominate your mind and perspective. His presence is near, His return is near, and His glory is near.