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 deal 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 worry, trouble, heaviness, distress, cares, 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 in 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 trust in God, our faith keeps us from fearing even 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, we need only reach out and take it.
When we feel inadequate, not good enough for God, our spouses, or anyone else, we need to pray for His strength to overcome this lie, 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 went to face 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.”
When we desire something, or someone, more than we love, 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 that David could have his wife Bathsheba and God uses it to teach us how far we can be led astray when we allow our desires to overrule the Word of God. The problem began with his envying and ended with murder. This is not God’s way, 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 guilt, we must 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.” 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 he 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.
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 Jerimiah 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.
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.
The proper amount of sleep can soothe our feelings 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 proper amount of sleep 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 designed us to sleep to replenish and refresh our brains and bodies for the next day.
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.”
Our lack of faith allows doubt and fear to take hold of us, but God calls us by faith to His eternal calling and He has reached 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?”
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