Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting to the Heart of Anxiety

Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, 
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:6,7

We live in an anxiety-driven society.  

I started this blog by researching the statistics of what Americans take for anxiety, who takes it, ages, male vs. female, insured vs uninsured and about an hour into my search I realized that it would be better to just assume those who disagree with my opening statement would go and research it themselves.  Truth be known, it was making me anxious…really.

So let's just agree that we have a lot of anxiety. If I took a poll at church, I think I would find many, many categories of what we worry about, from our past to our present and our future.  From children to spouse to parents, from health to wealth to death - we can find something to stress about 24/7.   

So it seems pretty simplistic to just tell people - don't worry and pray instead. But is that really what God instructs us to do in His word?  I want to start with a few basic principles from the Bible that don't have the word "anxiety" in them but contain truths that affect our anxiety levels:
  1. God wants your heart - Where your treasure is, there your heart is also (Matt. 6:21).  What you value, what you desire, your goals and your motivations - if they are set on Jesus, then your actions and feelings will follow. What does your heart value?   What is the relationship between what you treasure and your anxiety?
  2. God wants you to have an eternal perspective on life - Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth (Col. 3:1,2).  View life through an eternal lens - God is in control, He has a plan that He absolutely will accomplish, there are things that have eternal value and things that have earthly value - where do you place your focus?  Does what you think about make you anxious?
  3. God wants you to sow good seeds - Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:7-9).  The law of the harvest is true - what you put in the ground is what you are going to eventually produce.  If you put bad seeds in the ground, you're going to have a bad harvest.  Is it possible that what you are sowing is causing a harvest of anxiety?
Okay, now let's make some observations about our verse above:
  • Be anxious for nothing - God is not exaggerating when He uses 100% words.  He really is instructing us not to be anxious about anything.  But with the following phrases, we can understand WHY we are able to be anxious for nothing
  • But in everything by prayer and supplication - this means a HUMBLE PETITION brought to One who is an object of worship - we are to humble ourselves, acknowledging the fact that we need help and bring our concerns to the only One who can make a difference
  • with thanksgiving - this is our heart attitude.  Why are we thankful? Typically when we come in prayer to the Lord, life is tough and what is there to be thankful for?  Unfortunately, this is the mindset of many believers, when the list of things to thank the Lord for are endless - for life, for breath, for health, for weather, for air to breathe, for relationships, for housing, for food, for the ability to read, drive, sing, talk, sleep, play, work, think, for salvation, justification, redemption, adoption and for forgiveness…as I said, the list is endless. So with humble hearts, we thank the Lord that the gates of heaven's throne room are open to us and our Father's lap is always empty and ready for a one-on-one conversation.
  • let your requests be made known to God - He asks that you come to Him. He asks that you talk to Him. He asks that you tell Him your heart.  Don't misunderstand this - He is God and He knows all, but He has created us to be in relationship with us and instead of saying, Don't bother telling me what I already know - He beckons us into His throne room, pulls us onto His lap and says, "Tell Me what is bothering you.  I want to know everything!"
  • And the peace of God - you are no longer estranged from the Father - you have perfect communion with the ONLY ONE who can help you - in giving your anxiousness to the Lord, He will replace it with peace that comes from the understanding that He loves you, He cares for you and He is in control, working out all the circumstances in your life for good
  • which surpasses all comprehension - go back and read the last bullet point - can you really fully explain it?  In addition to that, because we are in relationship with God, He can produce a peace in us that no one can understand - why aren't you freaking out? (Your friends will say.) Because I know God is in control (is your answer).
  • will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus - God's peace has a tough job.  It has been given the task of protecting our hearts and minds - we're back to what we treasure.  The peace that comes from our restored relationship with God through Jesus and that is produced as we are sanctified in Christ, that peace will guard our minds - what we are thinking about, what makes us anxious, the origin of our worry - peace will protect us from anxiety because the peace we have is produced from a restored relationship with God Almighty
Okay, that's enough from me today - you have plenty to mull over in this verse…may God's truth richly dwell in your hearts and minds today.

1 comment:

  1. Jeremiah 48:11 jumped out at me in my reading this morning -- the verse about how Moab had no trials and, because of that, never changed. It made me think about how we have such a propensity to worry, especially when things go contrary to our plan. (Like our plan is really a good idea in the first place :o( We're really rather ridiculous.) We serve a God who's completely in control, unfailingly good, amazingly glorious and tremendously gracious and there's no better place to be than exactly where He's got us 'cause we know that, in all things, He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose and for His ultimate glory. When I lose sight of that, I lose peace, but when I keep that in my focus, it's a whole lot easier to trust when things might otherwise be anxiety inducing. Thanks for sharing.