Steven Furtick — When Anxiety Attacks
Now I know this message is for somebody because the devil was fighting me to be able to deliver it. So let's go forward together now into the word of God. Peter has an instruction here. He says, "In the same way you who are younger submit yourselves to your elders," everybody over 50 say amen. All the parents say amen. This is your verse Peter's a little older now. He's got that senior citizen discount swag going on in this letter that he's writing. He's got that AARP swag. Amen.
"And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. Because God opposes the proud but He shows favor to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. But resist him, standing firm in faith."
Because you know that you're not the only one going through something. The family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. Touch somebody. Say, "You're not alone. You're not alone. You're not the only one. You're not the only one. You're not crazy." It's a battle we all must fight, some fears we all must face, some things we all must go through. And we're in this together. Amen.
And the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ after you have suffered a little while will Himself restore you, make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever. Amen.
I wanna speak to you for a few moments today on the subject: When anxiety attacks. What are you going to do when anxiety attacks? You may be seated in the presence of God. Thank you worship team.
Hey my mom and I were texting this morning. We were talking about my memory, how I remember weird little things from my childhood. And she says that I remember some of them incorrectly. But one thing I know I remember was around age 16 at Monks Corner United Methodist Church when Aunt Jackie... she wasn't really my aunt but I called her Aunt Jackie because when I was a little boy, I used to go over to her house all the time and she let me watch "Dukes of Hazzard."
And she pulled me aside because I had made a commitment to Jesus Christ as a 16-year-old boy and she could see the passion and enthusiasm from my eyes, and she had changed my diapers and she was at that age where you can say whatever you wanna say. Kind of like Peter was when he was telling the church there, the people of God who were under persecution and under attack at the hands of the emperor Nero.
Aunt Jackie pulled me aside and she was telling me some words of wisdom. She said that she believed that God had a plan for me and that God was gonna use me and do something special for me. She said, "I even told our committee." She was on the committee. The Methodist church has a lot of committees. They have committees on committees.
For God so loved the world that He did not send a committee. But Aunt Jackie was on all the committees and the flower committee and the chair committee. She said, "I told the committee that you wouldn't be here much longer, that this was the church that you were raised in but that God was gonna use you for other things and we need to let you go when God calls you because He's gonna use you and you're gonna speak." And she was saying all these things to me.
And again, I had been only a Christian for a short time so I was encouraged by it. Then she shifted gears and she went into this real serious mode. And she was like, "But the devil, the devil doesn't like you. And he wants to use you as target practice and bring you down as God is raising you up." So she told me — this is the southern way to say 1 Peter 5:6, which says, "Humble yourself under God's mighty hand." She said, "Don't get to big for your... Britches".
It's a Charlotte thing. You know we're a regional, national church now so I have to tell them. Don't get too big for your britches and keep yourself low so God can raise you up high. And she told me that because she said, "The devil is after you. He does not like the passion that you have for God and he's after you." And I'm glad she told me that second part because I don't know if a lot of Christians get told that second part.
And so I thought I would join in with Peter, who said your enemy the devil roars like a lion, looking for someone he can eat alive, looking for a family he can tear apart, looking for a future he can ruin before it even has a chance to get started, looking for a church he can divide, looking for a nation he can divide, looking for an addiction he can plant in the heart of a 14-year-old so that they'll never live a normal adult life.
The devil is busy. The devil is active, she told me. And the interesting thing about it is she was saying that to me I think because she thought God was calling me to preach. But you don't have to be a preacher to have a bull's-eye on your back. In fact, I want you to write something down for me if you care anything at all about your future, your family, or your faith. Write this down. The birthmark of a believer is a bull's-eye.
Peter is here to teach us that we are born again into a living hope, but as you are born into a living hope you are also born into an eternal struggle and a very real battle. The day that you become one with Christ, the enemy... I wanna be careful here because this is what we do sometimes. We get way too carried away about all the stuff that the devil does. You know.
Someone will say, "I've just been under attack lately. So like lately the devil's been attacking me so much and it's just like so bad. It's like my mom and my dad and everybody, like my teachers and everything. And like my iPhone. I was charging it the other day and I've charged it. I know I charged overnight but then I woke up and it was dead and it's just the devil." No, it's your charger. It wasn't the devil.
"People on my job, they just hate me because I'm a Christian. I'm just under attack. My boss doesn't like me. I'm just under attack right now." No, you're not under attack. You're underperforming. Your boss doesn't like you because you're not doing a very good job. Come in sir with a paycheck that they have entrusted to you.
But yet there are those times and there are those seasons where you just get a sense that... I feel like I'm under attack. And that's something only Christians say. It's not something you would say if you didn't believe in God because you wouldn't believe in the devil. So you would just say everything's falling apart or whatever.
But do you remember when president Bush was reading to the elementary school class? And there's a famous picture of his chief of staff having to go up to him while he's reading a book and say to the president, "The second plane hit the second tower," on 9/11. And he said, "America is under attack." And he told the president that according to his account in his record after the fact. He said, "America is under attack."
Peter is walking up to a church under attack, speaking to them on a personal level, "I want you to know that you're under attack." Not just the preacher. Because people will come up to me all the time and say, "I'm praying for you preacher. I know the devil wants to take you out." Well I'd looked right back at him and say, "Well I'm gonna pray for you too. Write your name down." Because he'll take whoever he can get.
He's after construction workers and sophomores in high school and stay at home moms and attorneys, prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. And I wonder: Is it you? I wonder is it you he's been after? With thoughts that repeat themselves over and over again in your mind. Thoughts of worthlessness or thoughts of anxiety.
This seems to be Peter's primary focus is that the attack of the enemy often manifests itself in an overwhelming sense of anxiety. I know this is the manifestation of the attack, for if it were not the manifestation of the attack, Peter would not singularly lift it in verse seven as the focal point of his admonition to the church under attack. I feel like teaching today. Are you ready to learn?
Give me about 30 minutes because you're under attack and there are some things you need to know about this attack. The good news is it is not an ambush. Peter says that the devil is like a roaring lion. That means he gives you a warning before the warfare begins. And so sometimes we act really surprised by things that we go through and ways that we struggle and we come into situations that are harder than we expected them to be. And we ask God to do great things in our lives but the battle begins and we act like we weren't warned.
Now Peter said this lion, the devil, is not silent. Come on, give me your best roar. I've never done this before. I've done a lot of "touch your neighbors" but somebody roar at your neighbor. Devil's all up in your face. He'll let you know it's coming. And what you need to know if you are under attack... and I will not have you raise your hand because perhaps the very people who need this message the most would be the most reluctant to admit that this is for me.
But he said when you find yourself in a season of attack, that roaring lion is in your face... I'm thinking right here Peter's gonna say, "Run!" Because to me that's the only reasonable advice when you're faced with a roaring lion.
Hello, I don't even like dogs very much. Holly's scared of rats. Could you imagine if she saw a lion? But he doesn't say run. Instead he challenges us to resist. And it's a certain type of resistance because he says, "To those who are under attack, you need to come under the mighty hand of God."
I want you to see that phrase because it touched me so deeply in my study. I was hoping to explain it to you for a moment today the three things that the hand of God represents. This is verse six: "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God," an image that would've been familiar for a Jewish audience, "For it was with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm that God brought His people out of Egyptian slavery."
And Peter wants them to know that same hand of God that has been actively fulfilling His purpose throughout human history is still reigning over your life. Humble yourself under that mighty hand. The hand of God represents His plan. I don't know about you but I'm thankful that God's plan for my life has prevailed even against my own plan that I thought was better sometimes.
How many are grateful for the hand of God? If you're grateful for the hand of God, just wave your hand at me. God's hand is not like your hand. It's an invisible hand. You can't see it but you definitely know the effects of it when it moves because after you've lived a little while, Peter said, "I saw what happens in the hand of God, the plan of God. I saw what happens."
See, Peter is not writing this as advice unsolicited and he's not writing this as advice uninformed. Peter is a grown man now, a grown Christian man now, getting a little bolder about relaying his advice from his experiences. And who better to tell us about the hand of God than a man who walked with Jesus Christ in the flesh? Who better to describe to us the function of the hand of God than the one who saw His face?
Jesus said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father." Peter didn't just trace the hand of God. He saw the face of God. And now he says to those who are under attack, up under depression, up under disappointment, dealing with failure, hit rock bottom, don't know what's next, freaking out, crying yourself to sleep at night, feeling all alone, he says to every believer, "You've got the upper hand. The hand of God is mighty. The hand of God is strong. The hand of God is over your life. It will prevail."
His purpose will come to pass. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. And if you find yourself under attack today, you need to know that the hand of God is guiding you, leading you. That same hand that split the sea open so His people could walk right through it. The hand of God will make a way where there is no way. The hand of God will bring water out of a rock in a dry place. The hand of God is over your life.
And He has a plan. The plan of God. The hand of God represents the plan of God. The hand of God represents the provision of God. These all start with the letter P, because that's what I do. The provision of God. And who better to remind a church that is under attack or a believe who is under attack that the hand of God is the place where bread multiplies than the one who saw 5,000 fed with just a few loaves and a few fish?
Any time you've seen a kid's snack pack from Captain D's multiplied into a buffet, you know something about the provision and the hand of God. And Peter was right there, and he saw what happened when they put the bread in Jesus' hand. And so he knew that at times when you feel like you're in a place of lack, that your provision is never dependent upon your own ability to provide for yourself or your own ability to create resource for yourself, but anything you put in the hand of God will multiply.
Anything you put in the hand of God will multiply. Anything you put in the hand of God, it just keeps coming. It just keeps coming. Do I have any witnesses? You've been through some hard times in your life but hope kept coming. You've been in some tight places. You felt like you were running out. You didn't feel like you could make it to the next day. But somehow, Blakeney, strength kept coming. Joy kept coming. A tomorrow kept coming in spite of your past. 'Cause the hand of God is a hand of provision and it's a hand of protection. God has me in His grip.