Anxiety

AnxietyMany people struggle with anxiety today. It seems as technology progresses we are finding it more and more difficult to cope. We are afraid of what people will say about us on Facebook or Twitter.

We may be afraid of something that we have shared and worry it may go viral. Our focus is on our reputation or lack thereof.

The internet brought many blessings, but with it we have many curses too.

What is the difference between anxiety and fear?

Fear and anxiety are related but different.

Fear has its cause in a focused or specific thing. It may be real or imaged, but it is specific.

Anxiety is when the cause is not tied to a specific thing or event. It is more of a general dread and is unfocused.

Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and social phobia are examples of anxiety disorders. These can seriously limit what a person feels capable of doing in their life. Most of us have heard these words tossed around and we all have made our own definitions.

The Bible distinguishes between godly concern and ungodly anxiety and fear.

Godly concern is focused on others and on the glory of God.

Ungodly fear and anxiety focuses on what might happen to you without consideration for the love, wisdom, and sovereign power of God.[i]

Godly Fear

The Bible speaks a great deal about the fear of God. In Revelation 14:7  we are told “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” This is a holy reverence for the one true God of the Bible.

Fear also prepares us for danger. Specific real events strike fear in us so that we will be heightened in our awareness and able to react quicker. This is part of the way that God has made us and is there for a purpose.

Ungodly Fear

Anxiety often arises from guilt of unconfessed sin or a fear of being found out or the consequences of our actions. At times we fear the wrath of God. We have unbiblical thinking that leads us astray. We don’t trust in the promises of God.

Fear can come from self centered thinking. We focus on what some one or thing might do to us. We fear retribution. Our fear is focused on the situation with absolutely no regard for where God is in all of it.

What does the Bible say we should do about anxiety?

In Matthew 6:25-30 Jesus said:

“Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?“

We are focused too much on what we don’t have instead of on what we do have. We have to replace our unbiblical thinking with biblical thinking. We can overcome anxiety by taking our eyes off of the circumstances and putting them on the promises of God.

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We are told to stop being anxious and rejoice, pray a prayer of thanksgiving. It sounds like we just need to be more thankful to overcome anxiety.

The first step is to make a choice to not be anxious. Simply starting with this step makes all the others possible. Without this you will remain in your state of anxiety. Then we are to rejoice.

Paul had many things he could be afraid of. He was in prison when he wrote these words and yet he was rejoicing. That’s a hard act to follow, but he was enabled by the Holy Spirit. It was not Paul doing it, but Christ inside of him.

We must pray with thanksgiving. Payer with thanksgiving admits our need for dependence upon God and calls our attention to the times when God came through for us.

We need to remind ourselves of the ways that God has answered our prayers regularly. We tend to forget the good things and remember the bad things, which leads us towards anxiety.

When we follow this plan we are promised the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”

God will come through to comfort us and show us how to grow towards Him if we focus on him and not the circumstances. Victory over anxiety can be had if we focus on Christ and Hem crucified.

 

[i] Marshall and Mary Asher, The Christians Guide to Psychological Terms, Focus Publishing, Bemidji, Minnesota, 2004, p 13.