Throughout this offseason, I’ve been learning a lot about how to defend against anxiety. It’s easy to become anxious, but the Bible warns against letting worry overtake our lives. In fact, anytime we allow worry to seep into our lives, it means we’re not trusting God. We may be trusting Him, but only to the point where we feel like we’re still in control. When we begin to realize we’re not in control, anxiety rears its ugly head. I know that is when I need to lean on God and trust Him the most.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” —James 1:2-4
Scripture doesn’t say if you face trials, but when. We’re promised trials, and if you aren’t prepared for the trials that will come, you’ll find yourself overcome with anxiety. But since you know hardships are going to come, you can prepare your heart and mind to trust in the Lord’s sovereignty.
One day, while traveling back to Chicago, I was becoming increasingly anxious to get back to my family. I began worrying about them being by themselves while I’m away. As I started listening to a sermon by Tony Evans, who was addressing the topic of anxiety, I realized it was exactly what I needed to hear. There’s always something for me to worry about—my wife and kids being by themselves when I’m away, the upcoming season, our team, or myself being healthy enough to continue to play. But worrying is a sin. When we’re letting anxiety enter our hearts, we’re admitting we don’t trust God. If we only trust Him when we feel in control of our lives, we’re not surrendering everything to Him. God calls us to complete surrender—absolute trust. He wants our hearts, souls, and minds focused on Him so He can show us His power. When we fail to do that, we’re in trouble.
It’s one thing to say you’re not going to worry, it’s another thing to apply it to your life. For me, the more I stay conscious of when I am getting anxious, the more I’m able to surrender it to God and trust in Him. When I feel myself getting overwhelmed, I tell myself to slow down. I go to a quiet place and I pray. During these moments I need to realize there’s a bigger picture than what’s going on in my life this week or even this month. God calls us to take it one step at a time, without worrying about the future.
My wife’s favorite verse is Romans 8:28 which says:
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
All things work together for the good of those who trust and love God. He holds all things in His hands. He will always take care of us. If you fully believe this and live by this truth, you will have no reason to worry.
Matt Forte is a running back with the New York Jets and a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.