The Weapon of Anxiety

You will keep in perfect peace

those whose minds are steadfast,

because they trust in you.

4 Trust in the Lord forever,

for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.


Isaiah 26:3 – 4 NIV

If you have read C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, you will know that it is a satirical descriptive of Satan’s various ploys to destroy mankind.  His ultimate goal is to “win” hearts over to his side, so that he can somehow thwart God’s ultimate plan.  The book is a series of letters written by Screwtape (a senior demon) to Wormwood (his junior).  In it he describes all of the subtleties that Satan has for trapping mankind.  Nowhere is this more evident than in his use of anxiety about the future.  Of God, Screwtape writes “He (God) does not want men to give the future their hearts, to place their treasure in it.  We do.  His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to heaven, and returns to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him.  But we (Satan and his crew) want a man hag-ridden by the future – haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth – ready to break the Enemy’s (God’s) commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or the other – dependent for his faith on the success or failures of schemes whose end he will not live to see.  We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the present.”

If Satan can get us completely pre-occupied with attempting to determine which future path is most likely to be the outcome of our current planning, then he has won the battle of keeping us out of the present.  God exists outside of time.  We don’t.  We live in the present and because that is the only opportunity for us to commune with God, Satan’s most urgent desire is to distract (us).  For some he keeps trapped in the past.  Those of us for which the past no longer has a hold (particularly if you have been diligent in working on yourself), he lays the tempting thought of controlling the future.  The irony of it all is that we know that we do not have control.  We are still, however, enthralled by the illusion of control.  There is something enticing about the fantasy of manipulating future events in our minds as we think of potential future obstacles.  The problem, however, is that we get into a realm of circular reasoning for which there is no end.  One illusionary problem, leads to another, which leads to another and soon we are immobilized by the anxiety of recognition that we actually have little control…something to which we readily admitted before we entered our own heads.  The more we do this, the more our “faith” gets attached to the likelihood of things turning out in our favor.

What sets us free from all of this?  Firstly, we need to acknowledge that we have NO control.  We are, in effect, powerless!  That is easy enough, if we look honestly at the course of events in our lives.  There are ingredients to the pivotal points in our lives that were not of our making and completely unanticipated.  Secondly, we need to learn to anchor our minds on the places where we KNOW God to be.  Even if we don’t feel Him in the present, His word declares that He is with us (Matthew 28:20, Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5).  He also exists in eternity (Hebrews 13;8, Revelation 1:8).  Because we live in the now but hope for a promised eternity we can therefore attend to the obedience, perseverance, grace, and gratitude required of us by the present moment.

Is this easy? No!  I have personally struggled with anxiety, but through mindfulness I have grown in my ability to pull myself out of my head and enjoy the present moment, which is God’s gift to me.  If anxiety is a struggle for you, talk about it.  Share with others. Don’t let the enemy try to shame you into silence.  God desires that you rest in His perfect peace!

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