What Does the Bible Have to say about Anxiety?
Christians are not immune to anxiety. Simply asking Jesus to be your savior does not miraculously free you from stress and worry. This is why it's important to know and understand what God says regarding anxiety and what he promises.
First, I feel inclined to say that anxiety is a real psychiatric/medical disorder that affects millions of people every year, christian and non-christian. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Anxiety exists, because we live in a fallen world that is sinful. Our world does not work as it should. It is completely possible for a Christian to have anxiety and not be because of choices they have made. It is important as a body of believers we understand this, that we have compassion on our brothers and sisters that suffer in silence. Anxiety does not carry the same consequences as a terminal illness; yet we should be just as sensitive.
For the rest of this piece I'm going to camp out in Matthew 6:25-34
“"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,” “yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'” “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” “"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Over the years I heard the last portion of this scripture thrown at the brother or sister who is experiencing anxiety, as if saying don't be anxious about anything, relieves the anxiety. It's important as Christians that we not proof text and toss a piece of scripture at someone in pain and call it good.
First things first, Jesus says don't be anxious. In as much as that's a command, it's also an acknowledgement. Jesus knew you would be anxious and here He is acknowledging the pain you are feeling. Second, Jesus backs up his commands with promises by saying He will provide for all of our needs. I believe those needs encompass relational and emotional components. Third, Jesus uses birds and flowers to illustrate how He provides for us. I don't know about you, but I don't worry about how birds are going to take care themselves or how flowers will survive. They make very little impact on my day, yet God uses these pieces of his creation to illustrate his provision. If God can and does provide for birds and flowers, how much more will he provide for those that are made in his image? Kind of a rhetorical question:)
Fourth, Jesus gives you a focal point and that's him. Anxiety wants you to focus on what you can't control, thus creating more anxiety. Jesus wants you to focus on Him and how He is in total control. As a Christian, all of life should be centered around Christ anyway. Stress is going to happen because life is broken. Anxiety doesn't always have to be a bad or crippling thing, but a glorifying thing where you work out your faith in Jesus, grow in how you trust him and ultimately experience his strength and sovereignty more fully.
You can have anxiety for a myriad of reasons, but it shouldn't stop you from worshipping Christ.
The Bible teaches that anxiety is real, we will experience it; but we can trust in the promises of God that He will take care of our needs like he takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.
Next time you experience anxiety, I would encourage you to view it as an invitation to draw closer to Jesus.
Christian Bringolf MA LMHC
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