With the start of the new year, it’s easy to look ahead to the future and worry. Life can be difficult and can bring with it many troubles. Anxiety is something we all deal with, some to a harsher degree than others. We want comfort. It’s natural. We were created in perfect comfort, without need or desire for anything other than the presence of God. He made us to worship Him in complete and total satisfaction. Life was perfect. Until Adam made the decision to follow his fear of man instead of God. This created the reality that we now live in. Turmoil. Pain. Addiction. Suffering. It's all because of one man’s failure to obey. In this life we have, pain and anxiety are as common as rain in Seattle. It’s natural that we would want comfort. Yet how do we find the comfort we desire? How do we know what will bring lasting peace and what will just leave us more empty than we were before? How do we fight against the beast of anxiety and win?
Many Means, None Lasting
What is important to remember is that anxiety is something that so many people (including myself) deal with all the time. When talking about this issue we must do so with love, grace and truth. It is my desire that this will be an encouragement to those that deal with anxiety and that you will be encouraged to turn to Christ in all things and find peace in Him. So with that, let’s continue.
If you want a quick fix for anxiety, boy do you live in the right time in history. We live in a culture today that specializes in talking away the bad feelings. Because we hate pain. We hate discomfort. Our society suggests many means to rid oneself of anxiety and pain. Alcohol, medication, sex, yoga, meditation, media, exercise, and countless more are all “solutions” that society gives to do away with the problem of anxiety. Although many of these means will bring a relief to the feeling of anxiety, the issue with this is that none of them are lasting nor are they actually taking care of the problem. They will bring the partial relief, but will always leave the individual with emptiness and the inability to remove the anxiety completely.
Why Am I Still Anxious?
Perhaps you have tired some of these methods to rid yourself of anxiety. Perhaps to have been encouraged to feel the stress leave only to be crippled by it again when it smacks you across the face. It’s a menacing beast isn’t it? Always there, always waiting, springing out and attacking at the most unexpected times. Believe me when I say that I complete understand. Anxiety is a constant battle for me. It’s something that I am always dealing with. I am prone to worry and it seems that the smallest thing can cause me to doubt, then worry, then become anxious. There is a reason that all the worlds different means of curing anxiety don’t work. There is a reason none of them last and the anxiety always comes back. There is a reason that the relief ceases and always wears off. It’s because they are dealing with the wrong thing. Anxiety itself is not the issue. Although it’s what we feel, it’s not the problem. Anxiety is simply a symptom of a greater problem. It’s your body’s way of telling you there is something wrong. So many attempt to deal with their anxiety and treat it like the main issue. It’s not. When I try to take away the feeling of anxiety and stop there, I am actually trying to remove the warning sign that is telling me there is something wrong deeper within myself. We have a greater problem and anxiety isn’t the end all.
A Hard Truth
I am going to say something here that I am sure is going to offend many. Please know that I say this in love and mean no harshness or maliciousness from it. It is my deepest desire to see those that are enslaved to the beast of anxiety break free and live their lives in a new light. The statement is simply this, I do not believe medication is ever a good solution for dealing with anxiety. Please allow me to explain my reasoning before clicking out. There is a hard truth about anxiety and it is this: anxiety at its root is nothing more than what happens when we are not trusting God. Many will attempt to say it’s a medical or a mental issue. It has mental and physical consequences to be sure. Anyone who has ever been stressed can attest to that. However it is not primarily a mental or physical issue. It is a spiritual one. What we are saying when we become anxious and stressed is that we do not trust God. Now I realize this is something that we would never actually say to God, at least hopefully not. Yet it is what we are saying when we allow ourselves to become anxious.
Philippians 4:6 commands us “do not be anxious.” It’s a command. Not a suggestion. We are commanded to not be anxious. We must understand that God does not command us to do something that He does not likewise enable us to do. If He commands something and we break that command, what is that called. It’s called sin. This is a hard truth. When we become anxious and allow anxiety to rule in our lives, we are in sin. Anxiety is sinful. Why? How can be held accountable for something that we cannot control? Oh but we can control it. We have not been given a spirit of fear, “but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7) We have the ability through the work of the Sprit to control our mind and emotions. So when we become anxious, we are allowing something else to have its way with our mind. We are doing what God tells us not to do. We are sinning when we become anxious. When we medicate, we are simply putting a bandaid on cancer. We are covering up the symptoms without taking care of the actual problem. We need to get to the root of what is causing the anxiety instead of just trying to make the anxiety itself go away. The root is a lack of trust in God. We must stop dealing with the symptoms and start dealing with the actual problem and no medication, yoga, breathing techniques or media is going to sufficiently deal with a heart problem.
A Lasting Cure
I know that anxiety brings with it a feeling of helplessness. So what do we do? If medication or any other means doesn’t take care of the issue, where is there left to go? How do we fight the beast of anxiety and win? I believe there are two main ways we do this. One is theological and the other practical.
First, remember the theology of who your God is. He is the supreme creator of the cosmos. The first and the last, the beginning and the end. The great sovereign One. No world can hold Him and no mind can comprehend Him. He is above all and in all. All things are subject to Him and there is nothing that can even come close to describing His power. He holds all things in His hand and there is nothing that comes to pass that He is not in complete and total control over. Charles Spurgeon said it this way,
“I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of . . . leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”
That is the God we serve. There is nothing that happens without His decree. He is completely and totally sovereign. I do not know of any doctrine that is more comforting than that of God’s sovereignty. It’s the pillow of peace that we sleep on because we know that with as huge and powerful as God is, He is for us and calls us His child. That is a comforting thought.
Second, Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the practical cure for anxiety.
“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.”
Prayer is the cure for anxiety. When we become anxious, we must pray. We must take our fears and concerns to the great sovereign One. We must bring our hearts and minds to the One who created them. We must pray and it says that we will experience a peace that is beyond our understanding. Our hearts and minds will be guarded by the sentinels of God’s perfect peace. This is the cure. Bring your anxiety to Christ. He will take it from you and send it down the mountain where it will never be seen again. No longer trust in the solutions of men. We of all people have the ultimate solution for anxiety. We have Christ. So the next time the beast arises and comes at you with its fury and fear, look the beast in the eye and spit in it because you serve one that is greater than all and He is the guardian of your heart and mind. With God as our defender, who indeed shall we fear? Fear not, trust God, pray, remember His sovereignty. Remember Him and be free of anxiety.