What does God say about being anxious?
Most of us who grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s felt the constant threat of nuclear war and were anxious about whether we would live long enough to experience the joys this life has to offer; like the feeling of independence that comes from leaving our parents’ home to find our own way, getting jobs, getting married, having children, etc. God gives us the Biblical stories from history to help us better understand these feelings so that we might avoid the anxieties so prevalent in our society today and the drugs required to cope with them.
Merriam-Webster defines anxious as: “characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency.” The Bible describes this feeling many different ways, using many different words; like fear, worry, trouble, heaviness, distress, etc. So, what does God say we should do with these feelings?
Most things we fear will never happen, so why do we weary ourselves with worry when all we have to do is trust God, Ps 56:4, “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” When we put our faith in God, we will not live in fear of anything, including those things which will happen, Matt 8:26, “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” His peace awaits, but our lack of faith allows doubt and fear to take hold of us. God calls us by faith to His eternal calling and He is always ready to reach forth His hand to each of us, Matt 14:31, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” We just need to reach out to Him, which requires our faith.
In this life we will choose, we will either let our feelings lead us to fear or the Word of God to His peace. He promises He will lead us to the most abundant life, if we follow Him; and we will also have all of eternity to enjoy it, Jn 10:9-10, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” So, apparently, we just need to believe and let Him do all of the worrying, 1 Pet 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
When we feel inadequate, not good enough for God, our spouses, or anyone else, we need to pray for His strength to overcome this feeling of weakness, Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” As long as, we are in the will of God, all things are possible, as they were for David when he faced Goliath, 1 Sam 17:37, “David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.” It was David’s faith that allowed him to face Goliath and it is our faith, which will allow us to have peace in this world, Jn 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Most of our anxiety is caused by our continually feeding our fears. It is our negative behavior that provides the fuel to sustain our fear, Eph 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” God calls us to think and say positive things, Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” We can do this when we honestly believe all things will work out for good in the end, Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When we believe, we can come to God and lay our anxiety at His feet, Phil 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This faith He calls us to passeth all understanding and it is foolishness to those who do not believe, 1 Cor 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
When we desire something, or someone, more than we love God’s Word, we are led to use any means to get what we desire; as David did when he saw Bathsheba bathing, 2 Sam 11:2, “And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” David’s desire overwhelmed his love for the Word of God. It led David to have Uriah killed so David could have Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and God uses this sin to teach us how far we can be led astray when we allow our desires to overrule the Word of God. God is not afraid of using David, a man after His own heart, to teach us this lesson, Acts 13:22, “And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” God uses David’s weaknesses to demonstrate the need we all have for a savior. David’s problem began with his envying and ended with murder. Following God’s way would have prevented David from committing this horrible act, Ex 20:13, 17, “Thou shalt not kill…Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.”
When we do something that leaves us with the feeling of uneasiness or guilt, God calls us to face our actions and repent, 2 Cor 2:9, “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.” Feeling sorry for our actions is not enough, God calls us to repentance and when Jacob stole Esau’s birthright, he spent many anxious years fearing Esau’s retaliation. God spoke to Jacob and directed him to return to face his brother and the sin that was tormenting Jacob, Gen 31:3, “And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.” When Jacob followed the way of the Lord, God led Jacob back to Esau and his fears evaporated as Esau greeted him with love, Gen 33:4, “And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.” Both Jacob and Esau were healed by this act of faithfulness to God.
In this world, many are needlessly troubled by the prospering of the wicked, God has a plan, 2 Cor 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” It is not our wealth that will decide our fate, but rather our faith, 1 Jn 5:5, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” Or, as Jeremiah learned directly from God, Jer 12:1, 16-17, “Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?...And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The Lord liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people. But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord.” Sometimes we misunderstand God’s goodness, thinking it is weakness or disinterest, when it is merely God’s timing, as He is determined to give the wicked every opportunity to find salvation. That failing, we will all face a just God, for He is not a respecter of person’s, which means His justice is always righteous, Acts 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” We will all be treated fairly, in the end.
When we fear for our own lives, as Esther did, we can call on God, Ps 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” We can do this because He has a plan for us, Jer 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Esther’s faith allowed her to approach the king, at her own peril, and her belief and courage saved her and her people, Jam 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
God has given us advice for every part of our lives and one of those parts deals with sleep. The proper amount of sleep can soothe our feelings of stress and reduce our anxiety, Prov 3:24, “When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” When we stop trying to do too much we will find the time to get the sleep we need and thus gain a proper perspective on this life, Ps 127:2, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” God gave us sleep to replenish and refresh our brains and bodies for the next day.
We needn’t worry about the things of this life, as long as we rest in God’s mercy, Matt 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
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