Recently, my family needed to relocate to a new house and to say that the whole process has been filled with anxiety is an understatement. Anxiety is a big part of our culture because we live in a fallen world.
Time Magazine took a whole edition in 2002 to help people “Understand Anxiety” and the stats suggest that 50% of Australians have anxiety related problems and anxiety is among the top ten leading causes of disease burden in Australia.
Anxiety is anticipating the future in the worst possible way and freaking out about it. Many of us wear ourselves out worrying about impending doom that rarely happens. Anxiety is closely connected to fear which has been described as False Expectation Appearing Real. In reality, 90% of what we worry about never happens. The root meaning for the word ‘worry’ means to strangle. Worry strangles the life out of you emotionally, spiritually and physically. The biblical word ‘anxious’ in Philippians 4:6-7 means to be torn apart. It’s what happens when our thoughts and feelings pull us in different directions.
Rather than only embracing the secular view of treatment in the natural, read your bible for God’s view on responding to fear, worry and anxiety. Whilst the Great Commandment sums up the law and the prophets, “Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matt 22:37-40), there is another commandment that is repeated from Genesis to Revelation.
God repeatedly says to us, “Fear Not, for I am with you.” Fear in the mind leads to anxiety in the body. Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” From Adam to us we are invited and commanded to fear not. Not because we have the capacity in ourselves but because God is with us.
Who is it that you fear? Who is it that you are seeking approval from? What is it that you are worrying about right now? What intimidates you? Jesus last words before ascending to the Father are, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
Pastors, you can feel like you are doing ministry on your own and that God has forgotten about you. Parent, you can be all anxious and worried about what is happening with your kids. Whoever you are and whatever you are facing, fear not because God is with you!