Everywhere you turn, there are reasons to be worried. The message being communicated again and again is “be anxious about everything.” To be fair, all those things listed above are significant. None can be solved by a snap of our fingers, though we often wish they could. So, how do we respond in the midst of so many reasons to be anxious?
As we explore anxiety, I want to acknowledge that it is a complex topic. This article can only hope to scratch the surface. I share the following thoughts not to be a quick fix but to be a start, continuation, or affirmation of a process in your life.
For as long as I can remember, my mind has easily slipped into obsessively anxious patterns. An example of my internal dialog would have gone something like this:
Anxiety can be caused or fed by fear. I was fearful of many things. When trying to function in a world that has many unknowns, fear can become overwhelming. We ask, “What if?” or “What about?” We may try to protect ourselves by creating predictable routines or avoiding things that are uncertain. Don’t climb a ladder, and you won’t fall off it. Don’t drive in a bad neighborhood, and you won’t get carjacked. That method can work for a short time, but ultimately a new fear will emerge or something will interrupt our routine. And we find ourselves back in the same place of fear. Fear can even feed upon fear to the point that we forget what we were originally fearful about, and we are just consumed with a constant and abiding fear … a constant and abiding fear. That doesn’t sound very appealing does it? And I don’t think it is what God desires for us either. He wants to be a constant and abiding presence in our lives – a presence that can dislodge that fear. The first three verses of Psalm 27 (one of my favorites) remind me God is ever-present and my protector in the midst of fearful situations:
The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
From our standing before God (saved and forgiven), to an entire war breaking out against us, no matter the situation, God is bigger. Does that mean that God is going to remove all the challenges in our lives and nation so that we will no longer experience anxiety? No. Even if He did, we would come up with new things to be anxious about. Instead He invites us into intimacy with Him in the midst of those anxious times. He calls us to abide with Him. This is reflected in an often-quoted passage: Philippians 4:6-7
originally published in March 2009