Joel Osteen - The Antidote for Anxiety
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I want to talk to you today about the Antidote For Anxiety. We all have opportunities to live anxious and worried about the future, and wondering what's going to happen with our children, our finances, our health. It's always something trying to steal our peace. If you watch the news you hear about inflation, violence, wars, divisions. A recent article talked about how we're in an epidemic of anxiety. Never has there been so much coming against our mental health, creating stress, pressure, people living overwhelmed. That's not the way we were created to live. The scripture (1 Peter 5:7) says to "Cast all your anxieties on him".
One antidote for anxiety is you have to give it to God. You can't go around carrying everything, trying to figure it all out, living in tomorrow, wondering how it's going to work out. "What if my health doesn't improve? What if my company has layoffs? This family member did me wrong, I gotta fix that". You're weighing yourself down. Carrying things you were never meant to carry, that's why you can feel worn out, not able to sleep at night. Do yourself a favor and start casting those anxieties. They're going to come, but if you're going to stay in peace, you have to get good at turning them over to God. The word "Cast" is an action word. When you're fishing you cast the rod. It's not a complacent, underhand, "Let me just toss it". No, you forcefully swing your arm, and aggressively flick your wrist. There's action, energy.
In the same way anxiety is not going to just fall off of you. Worry is not going to go away on its own. Can't just sit back, hope that things change. You have to do some casting. When thoughts come, "What's going to happen with your child? There are so many distractions these days, they're probably going to get in trouble". You can dwell on those thoughts, and let them weigh you down, cause you to live anxious. Or you can say, "No, thanks, my children are in God's hands. Father, thank you that you're protecting them, causing them to make good decisions. That as for me and my house we will serve the Lord". You know what you did? You just cast those anxieties on him. "Well, have you seen the news about the economy, inflation, gas prices? What if prices keep going up? What if your business doesn't make it? What if you can't pay your bills"? The enemy would love for you to worry about things that are never going to happen. He would love for you to miss the beauty of this day, because you're so anxious about tomorrow. Don't fall into that trap. God has not failed you in the past, and he's not going to fail you now.
When I was growing up, my father used to say, "If bread goes to a dollar a loaf, and gasoline to a dollar a gallon, God will take care of us". If daddy could see us now. God is faithful. If prices go up, let me give you some good news, God's provision is going to go up. God is not in heaven saying, "I didn't see this one coming. I didn't know inflation would be this high". God owns it all. He makes streets out of gold. You get stressed looking at the future, anticipating the worst, higher cost, higher bills. What you're not anticipating is the goodness of God. David said, "I was young, now I'm old, I've never once seen the righteous forsaken". Instead of carrying the anxiety, do yourself a favor: start casting it.
I read where the largest increase in anxiety is among young people. So much pressure these days with social media, there's the comparison, "Am I good enough? Funny enough? Pretty enough? Do I have enough followers? Am I popular"? If you fall into trap, you'll never feel good about yourself, because you'll always see someone that's more talented, more beautiful, more successful. There will be this pressure to outperform, and outdress, have more friends, more talents, more compliments. That's a never ending cycle. It's not only going to wear you out, take your joy, your peace, but you'll miss who you were created to be, trying to keep up with everyone else.
Take that pressure off yourself, that's what's causing anxiety. "How can I keep up"? You don't have to keep up. You're not competing with them, run your race, be who God made you to be. "Well, I can't do what they can do". Well, they can't do what you can do. You're gifted, you're talented. "Well, they're so beautiful". You're so beautiful, you're a masterpiece, you're made in the image of God. "Well, they're more popular". Popularity is fleeting, it can change in a minute.
Psalm 55, David was dealing with anxiety, he said, "I'm overwhelmed with trouble. My enemies are making loud threats. My heart is anxious, with so much fear and trembling, I can't stop shaking". That's some serious anxiety. Now, David was a warrior. He had defeated Goliath, conquered cities, led the Israelites into great victories, but now he's overwhelmed, so anxious that he can't move forward. Dealing with anxiety doesn't mean that you're weak, you don't have enough faith, you must have done something wrong. The enemy wouldn't be trying to stop you, if he didn't know there was a calling on your life. He knows there's greatness in you, that you're on the verge of seeing a new level. That's why he'll try to make you feel overwhelmed, worried about the future, think it is not going to work out.
Thoughts will tell you, "It's never going to change. You'll always have to deal with this anxiety. You'll always have this feeling that something is wrong". Don't believe those lies. The anxiety is not permanent. It's not going to last forever, it's a season, this too shall pass. And sometimes God will bring you out quickly, other times he'll take you little by little. Don't be discouraged if you don't see anything changing, God is working. Every day you need to declare, "I'm getting better. My mind is at peace. My heart is at rest. I am free from this anxiety".
David had been attacked by king Saul, and attacked by his son Absalom, attacked in the city of Ziglag. He handled those attacks well, he went out and defeated, and recovered, and was victorious. But when anxiety attacked it was a different story. He didn't think he could go on. The most powerful attacks are not physical, but mental. That's why the enemy works overtime in the mind, anxiety, fear, "It's not going to work out. You're never going to get well. You'll always be alone. What are you going to do"? David was sitting there overwhelmed, shaking, believing these lies that nothing would improve.
This anxiety attack could have been the end of David's story. This could be the last time we read about him. The anxiety won, and he faded off into the sunset. No, David did something that we all must do. When anxiety attacked, instead of just sitting there, he said in verse 16, "I will call on the name of the Lord and he will rescue me. He will keep me safe from the battle raged against me". When anxiety attacks, often we call our friends, call our neighbor, call our parents. That's all fine, but you need to make sure you call on the name of the Lord. Call on the God who created you. Call on the God who brings dead things back to life. Call on the God who is more powerful than any force trying to stop you. He said in Psalms 50:15, "Call unto me in the day of trouble and I will strengthen you and I will deliver you".
If you call unto him, he'll give you the strength you need until the deliverance comes. Every morning you need to say, you need to call, "Lord, thank you for strengthening me today. Thank you that this anxiety cannot stay in my life. I am a temple of the Most High God. Anxiety, you are on foreign territory. You are not welcome here". Don't be complacent, don't just accept it. "Man, my anxiety is acting up today. My depression is really bad". Don't take ownership of it. Doesn't belong to you. The moment you say "My", you're giving it permission to stay. It's like you're inviting it into your life. Instead of inviting it, you need to start casting it away. See that anxiety as foreign, as not welcome and as temporary.
David went through this attack, we don't know how long it was: weeks, months, maybe a year, I don't know, but when it was all over, at the end of the chapter, he gives us what he learned. He said in verse 22, "Cast your burdens on the Lord, release the weight of them and he will sustain you". He was saying, "I went through this terrible anxiety, thought my life was over, I lived worried, overwhelmed, but now that I'm out, having lived through it, here's what I'm going to do differently next time. Here's how I can save you a lot of heartache and pain: cast your anxieties on the Lord. Release the weight of those worries. Quit carrying things that you're not supposed to carry, turn it over to God, trust him in the trouble, trust him when you don't see a way, trust him when you don't understand, and he will sustain you, he will bring you safely through".
Are you holding on to worries, anxiety, "What's going to happen with my child? And this situation at work has me stressed out. My health is not getting any better". If David were here, he would tell you, "I was where you are. I did the same thing. So much so that I couldn't function. I was shaking, I was trembling, don't do like I did, release the weight of it, cast that burden on the Lord". As long as you hold onto it, it's going to hold you down. You're holding on to what's holding you back. We wonder when God's going to do something, God's waiting for us to release it. Releasing it is an act of faith, "God, I don't see how it's going to work out, but I know you have a way. God, my child is not making good decisions, but I know he's in the palm of your hand. God, my business is slow, but I thank you that you're supplying all of my needs".
During the pandemic, when so many things closed down, one Sunday morning I went to breakfast with my family at this small outdoor restaurant. This is when there were no in-person services, only online. And we would record the Sunday service on Friday, so I was free on the weekends. I told my family: I have never been to breakfast on a Sunday morning in all of my life. We were always in church if you were somewhere else on Sunday morning, you were going to hell. But with all the disruption, and all these changes, like a lot of people, I felt this uneasiness, this anxiety, like something was wrong. Everything was great in my life, but deep down there was this gnawing, "Something's not right". Be going through the day, out of nowhere sense of gloom. Wake up in the night, these worrisome thoughts, something I had never experienced.
But when anxiety attacks, you can't be passive and just hope that it goes away. There's something we have to do. Paul said in Philippians 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing". That's a bold statement. "Come on, Paul, you mean we can not be anxious over the uncertainty in our future, over a pandemic? We cannot be anxious over this medical report, over this trouble at work? That seems too good to be true". He goes on to tell us how it can happen. He said, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be known unto God".
Paul was saying, "When anxiety attacks, don't try to do it on your own. Go to God prayer, ask him for his help". It says to pray with supplication, that means to lower yourself, to go in humility, admitting your dependence on him. "God, I need you. I can't do this on my own. I don't see how my child's going to get back on course. This medical report is not good. My finances are low. God, I'm depending on your goodness, your mercy, your favor". That's praying with supplication.
Then it says thanksgiving. Once you pray, once you cast it on God, you need to shift into a different mindset. No more, "God, I'm so worried, I don't see how I'm going to make it". No, don't go to God from a place of anxiety, go to him from a place of faith, a place of thanksgiving. That's showing God that you trust him. "God, I thank you that you're working in my life. I know, you're bigger than this problem, bigger than this sickness, bigger than this trouble at work". You can in peace, knowing that God is fighting your battles. He's working out his plan for your life.
Paul goes on to say: if you go to God with prayer, with supplication, with thanksgiving then here comes the promise, "The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your heart and mind". Notice, it's the peace of God. It's not normal peace. It's not something you can explain. It's peace in the midst of the storm. It's peace you're taking the treatment. It's peace when you're going through the breakup. It's peace when you lost a loved one. It's peace when that person did you wrong. People will look at you and think, "Aren't you depressed, worried, anxious? How could you be so happy, so grateful"? Just tell them, "The peace I have didn't come from this world. It's not ordinary, it's peace from my Heavenly Father. Peace that passes understanding".
It's the peace that three Hebrew teenagers felt. They wouldn't bow to the king's golden idol, he was going to have them thrown into a fiery furnace. They had a great opportunity to be anxious. They were facing an impossible situation. They understood this principle that God is in control, that nothing can happen to you without his permission. They made this decision to be anxious for nothing. I'm sure they felt anxiety, but they went to God, they asked for his help, they prayed with supplication, they thanked him for his goodness. What happened? Peace that passes understanding showed up. They weren't worried, complaining, "God, where are you"? They weren't fighting with the guards, trying to throw them into the furnace. They had peace when they should have been panicked. They were calm in the midst of chaos. When you learn to cast the worries, cast the anxieties, you'll not only have supernatural peace, but you'll see God do supernatural things.
This king was so furious, he had the officials up the fire seven times hotter than normal. The teenager said in a effect, "King, you don't control our destiny, God does. If it's not our time to go, this fire is not going to harm us". I can hear him laughing, "Yeah, right". They bound their hands and feet, and threw them into the fire. In a few minutes the king came and looked through the furnace window, he said, "Didn't we throw three men in bound? I see four men loosed, and one looks like the Son of God". They went into the furnace in peace, and the God of peace joined them, just to make sure everything turned out alright". If you'll stay in peace and go into the fire, the trouble, the sickness not upset, anxious, "What's going to happen", then the God of peace will join you in the fire. You'll come out without the smell of smoke. God will fight for you.
You may be in the fire now, and you're tempted to panic, live uptight. No, it's time to start casting. Cast the care, cast the anxiety, cast the worry. God has you in the palm of his hand. He didn't bring you this far to leave you. He's done it in the past, he's going to do it this time. But defeating anxiety requires trust. You may not know all the answers, you don't see how it can work out, but God has it all figured out. His ways are not our ways. We think natural, but he's supernatural. He's already planned out your days for good. It may not be good right now, because there are pieces missing. But when God brings it all together, it will be better than you've ever imagined. Trust him when you don't understand.
Sometimes we're anxious over the future, wondering what might happen. Other times we're anxious over the past, mistakes we've made, regrets, what could come back to haunt us. When God brought the Israelites through the Red Sea, he didn't just make a way for them to escape, but he drowned all their enemies. If he would have just brought them out, they would have always lived with the threat that the Pharaoh and all those powerful warriors could come find them. The Israelites would have lived in fear, always thinking in the back of their mind, "They could come looking", and they had to look over their shoulder. They would have been this lingering worry, lingering anxiety, they'd always be dealing with.
But when God drown their enemies, he put an end to what could harm them. He freed them from their past. You may have that lingering anxiety, always trying to remind you of what might happen, those mistakes catching up to you, those regrets coming to life. Can I tell you? The threat has already been taken care of. God has put an end to what you're worried about. You don't have to live afraid, anxious, worried. He didn't just part your Red Sea, bring you through the difficulties, but he's drowned those enemies, he's drowned the guilt, the shame, the opposition. What was trying to harm you is already defeated. But here's the key: the enemy would love for you to live anxious over a threat that's already taken care of. He'll make a lot of noise in your thoughts, "What if they come back? What if they try to make you look bad? What if this taint your future".
David said the threats from his enemies were tormenting him, the threats were causing him to have anxiety. Threats can be very powerful until you realize: those enemies are no longer here. Those enemies have already been defeated. Now, you can live free, you can live happy, you can move forward in faith, knowing that your past has been taken care of. When those threats come back to your mind, telling you to worry, something's wrong, you feel that anxiety rising up, don't take the bait. Get your fishing rod out, and let out a big cast, "No, thanks, Pharaoh is defeated. My past is forgiven, my enemies have been taken care of, I'm going to live this day in victory".
Acts 12, Peter was put in prison for sharing his faith. King Agrippa had already had James, one of the apostles killed. When he saw how that pleased the people, he had them arrest Peter. He was in the deepest part of the dungeon, his hands and feet in chains, with 16 soldiers guarding him. The next day he was going to be brought to trial. Peter knew his life could be over in just twenty-four hours. He knew what they had done to James, and now he was next in line. You would think he'd be worried, pacing the floor, complaining. No, Peter understood this principle: when all the odds were against him, when his future looked so bleak, he said, "God, I'm casting these anxieties on you. Not going to live worried, I know my future is in your hands".
An angel came in the middle of the night to rescue him. The scripture says something interesting: the angel had to wake Peter up. How could he be sleeping, knowing the next day he could lose his life? That's peace that passes understanding. That's peace that doesn't make sense. That's what happens when you learn to turn it over to God. I'd like to think that I have that much faith, but I'd probably be calling the prayer line, pacing the floor, "God, please do something". But here's the key: when you rest, God goes to work. But when you work, you're uptight, "God that's a deadline. Doesn't look good, he killed James". Begging God doesn't necessarily get his attention, but when you're in peace, that's a place of power. When you cast those cares, not only do you get peace, where you can sleep in the storm, but the Creator of the universe goes to work. Supernatural things will happen.
Those chains fell off of Peter's hands and feet, he was invisible to the 16 soldiers guarding him, and he walked out a free man. It's not a coincidence that Peter was the one that wrote, "Cast all your anxieties on him". He was saying, "I know what it's like to face anxiety. I've been there. To have things come against you, where you don't see a way out, thoughts of worry and fear bombard your mind". If Peter were here today, he would tell you, "The antidote to anxiety is to turn it over to God. Don't care carry it - cast it. Don't go around dwelling on all the negative, trying to figure it out, focus on the what-ifs. Put it all in God's hands, that's when you'll have peace that passes understanding".
Are you carrying things you need to be casting? Are you holding on to weights that you should be releasing? You can walk out of here today lighter, freer, more joy. Don't wait for things to change, then you're going to quit worrying. "Joel, when my hell turns around, when my child straightens up, when this situation at work resolves, then I'll be able to sleep". No, if you'll start casting those cares, you can have peace while you're waiting for things to improve. Peter was not just in prison, he was in peace. He wasn't just locked in chains, he was locked in peace. He wasn't just guarded by those soldiers, he was guarded by peace.
What am I saying? The outside circumstances don't determine your peace, it's what's happening on the inside. When you're connected to your Creator, you've learned to pray with supplication, admitting your dependence on God with thanksgiving instead of worrying, thanking him that he's working, then when difficulties come, you can say like Peter 'I'm not just in trouble, I'm in peace. I'm not just in the hospital, I'm in peace. I'm not just in debt, business is slow, but I'm in peace. I know God is fighting this battle. I know he has the final say". That's when you'll experience peace that passes understanding, peace where you can sleep in the storm, peace when the battle is raging around you, peace when the medical report is not good.
When you're in peace, you're showing God that you trust him, that's your faith at work, that's what activates his power. You'll see him show out in your life, supernatural doors open, supernatural healing, supernatural provision. My prayer for you is what Paul declared, that you will be anxious for nothing, that you will learn to cast those cares, releasing the weight of them. No more living worried, letting threats hold you back, had underlying feeling that something is wrong. And yes, you may have struggled a long time with anxiety, and thoughts are telling you, "It's always going to be this way". No, God is doing a new thing. He sees like David when you feel overwhelmed, he sees like Peter when the situation looks impossible. He sees like the teenagers, when you're doing the right thing, but the wrong thing is happening. He knows it's not easy. He knows those forces have come against your mental health, but look at you, you could be defeated, worried, but you're still him.
Can I encourage you? Your time is coming! That anxiety is not how your story ends. It may happen quickly or God may take you little by little, but know this: you're coming out. It is not permanent. I believe and declare right now in the name of Jesus: that spirit of anxiety is being broken. I speak peace to you. I speak healing to your mind, your emotions, your body. I speak a calm and undisturbed spirit. The tide changing in your favor right now. God is strengthening you. You're coming into new levels of peace, joy, freedom and fulfillment. I declare it in Jesus name. And if you received it, can you say amen? Amen!