Be Still, My Soul: Understanding and Addressing Anxiety

Oct 16, 2018

I watch a lot of movies—not the kind playing on the big screen down the street or on the little screen inside my home, but the kind playing daily in the theatre of my mind. Certain themes play repeatedly, I’ve noticed. For example:

  • The eyes of my heart look forward rather than backward, and I watch my imagined future unfold. Like tomorrow’s difficult conversation with that difficult person. How will that person respond?
  • The camera zooms in and locks onto something I really want but something that’s always “iffy” and vulnerable, never certain nor safe. Like the day I dropped off my son at college. Will he find the good things that I’m hoping for?
  • In scene after scene, I play the lead actor, aspiring and conspiring to make happen what I really want to happen. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot control the uncontrollable. Like the time I invested weeks writing that perfect proposal, only to have it rejected in less than five minutes.
  • Every drama tends to slant and slide toward the worst of possible outcomes. Why is my heart so quick to catastrophize and so slow to believe God is always working for my good? Like the morning I felt a lump in my throat and concluded it was cancer before going to the doctor and learning it was nothing of the sort.

If you’re like me, then you know exactly what you feel when you sit there in your seat: dread-pouncing, heart-racing, fear-pulsing, sometimes even life-paralyzing anxiety. No wonder we’re quick to reach for and scarf down a bag of popcorn (or any number of would-be comforts) in the middle of our nerve-wracking movies!

Let’s face it. You and I have good reasons to be anxious. Life is hard. So much that swirls around us and threatens to undo us is beyond our ability to tame. No matter how hard we try to pretend otherwise, we are at risk. But like one of my former professors, David Powlison, likes to say, “You and I have better reasons not to be anxious.” The reason-giver and difference-maker is a Person—a living, speaking, working Redeemer.

Remember the scene? Two-thousand years ago, a tempest on the Sea of Galilee occasioned great fear among the boating disciples of Jesus. When they woke Jesus from his sleep in the stern, he stood up and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the raging winds and crashing waves became calm (Mark 4:35-41).

Two-hundred-and-fifty years ago, hymn-writer Katharina von Schlegel calmed and quieted her anxious soul by faith—wakeful, focused, promise-trusting faith—in this same storm-stopping Savior: “Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.” Do you believe this same Lord sees you in your storm? Do you believe he still works to calm your anxious soul?

Nearly all of us have experienced anxiety at some point in our lives, and some of us battle it everyday. I invite you to explore this important topic at our upcoming seminar: “Be Still, My Soul: Understanding and Addressing Anxiety” on Saturday, November 10, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Chapel Hill Bible Church. This seminar will provide rich biblical perspectives on anxiety and highlight practical ways to address this common struggle.

Our featured speaker is Dr. Mike Emlet. Mike received a M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. He practiced as a family physician for twelve years before becoming a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). In addition to his counseling and teaching ministries, Mike has authored several books, including Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications; CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet; and OCD: Freedom for the Obsessive Compulsive.

I myself have benefitted personally from Mike’s ministry. Mike is a humble and tender-hearted person. He is a biblically wise and loving counselor. He is an exceptionally clear and balanced teacher. We can learn lots from Mike, so I’m thrilled to commend him to you!

Please join us and invite your friends. For more information, including cost and how to register, visit