Written by: Nikki Laureano
Two years ago, I found myself amidst crippling anxiety and fear. Chains of self-pity, comparison, and doubt internally bound me. The enemy had me fixated on my circumstances. All my happiness was based on what was happening around me. And I can assure that I was falling flat as a wife, a mother, and a friend.
I can’t tell you the exact moment when things began to change, but when we found out we were pregnant with our second daughter, my inward focus started to slowly turn outward. The Holy Spirit started to change my perspective, and my self-centered tendencies became less important because I was carrying life within me. Pregnancy meant I was serving a very significant purpose and I could finally see the “bigger picture”, which was a baby girl.
We have looked at the following verse a couple of times during this series, but I want to share why it stirs something deep within my heart:
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” (Philippians 4:11-12, emphasis mine)
Paul was in prison, bound by physical, external chains when he wrote these words. It was his perspective that kept his internal contentment thriving! It didn’t mean he wasn’t walking through real pain or that his feelings weren’t valid. It simply meant that Paul’s secret to contentment was learning to live from the inside out, not the outside in.
It is no wonder my external experiences never cured the anxiety I once struggled with. This verse reminds me that as my perspective stays fixed on God’s purpose and plan for my life (even when I don’t know what he will walk me through), I can have freedom from external chains because my internal contentment is living in the shadow of the Most High!
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
Anxiety and discontentment still rear their ugly heads from time to time when my focus is anywhere but the throne. But to break through those chains, I must continue to stop looking at my current circumstances through my own eyes, and start focusing on where I am going (Hello, heaven!!!).
I have learned that this life is not about me; it is about the purchase God made when He sent His son to die on the cross for my sins. God only wants to use me to advance the Kingdom of God. Every day, I must remind myself to look at the journey God is leading me through with the end in mind. Because when I start looking at the sum of my life, the trials of today seem pretty small!