Anxiety is everyone’s problem, in more ways than one. Those who are going through a time of anxiety will find it hard to be the Christian that they need to be. Those around them and close to them, although not currently enduring anxiety themselves, will suffer the results of the other person’s anxiety. For example, a father who is attacked with anxiety will not be the godly father he needs to be, and the commandments in the scriptures that he needs to fulfill toward his wife, children, the church, and the world, will be left undone. Anxiety causes friction in the home, such friction that is not suitable for a godly atmosphere. Relationships will suffer because of it; and relationships are what this whole life is about. A quick flip through the bible will prove that the commandments therein deal with man’s relationship with God, his family, and his neighbor, and all such can be divided by anxiety. So it is no wonder that the bible addresses this problem that conflicts with everything that is godly. In fact, the bible provides the answer to solve anxiety.
Philippians 4:6 instructs us to “be anxious for nothing,” that is to say, that we are not to allow anxiety to strike up within our lives. How do we keep that from happening? The text goes on to say that with every situation we address it with prayer. Anxiety is a fruit that, upon inspection, shows that often it is faith that is lacking in one or more areas. And this is what is being addressed in Philippians. Consider the church in Philippi, who were under the fires of persecution. They were faced with a great deal of uncertainty every day. To them, God said do not be anxious, but make your requests in prayer to God, and give no more care in mind about it. Some would object, saying there more to it than that. Is there really? Because the next verse (4:7) speaks of “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Only faithlessness could argue against powers that surpass all understanding. The point that God’s peace “surpasses all understanding” is made to address the fact the He is far more capable to settle our minds than our very own human mind. God is able to settle our anxious hearts even when we find it impossible for us to do so, or even when medication struggles to do so for us. I’ve seen God cure much more life-threating illnesses in Christians than anxiety, because prayers of petition were offered.
Pride often gets in the way of clearly seeing what is best for us. Satan often gets in the way of having a clear visual of God, but the scriptures help us regain the loss of eyesight. In 1 Peter 5:6-7, we are told to humble ourselves under God. Man is constantly tempted to exalt himself above God, trying to take care of the things he has no control over. I think of a well-trained pilot sitting in the cabin, wanting to step in and bring the passengers to safety, but it is a six-year old who is operating the controls. Too often, that describes our lives. We are the one who has taken the controls, even though we are only capable of seeing about one-inch from our faces, while we leave God out; yes, the God with the foresight and power to alter the course toward safety. Verse seven instructs us to cast all our cares upon him; “for He cares for you.” To cast upon, or throw, carries the true thought that we don’t want the problems, nor are we capable of handling them (hence the reason we have anxiety), so we throw them upon God. This is what God wants us to do, this is the kind of care that He has for us; He has told us to give our cares and anxieties to Him to handle.
Another aspect to consider in removing anxiety from our lives is found in Matthew 6:25-34. In this text, Jesus spends a considerable amount of time on the subject of worry. Essentially, it all boils done to two things: knowledge and focus. Knowledge that anxiety cannot improve a situation (6:27), and knowledge that God knows both what you need and how to get it for you, are all significantly beneficial to leaving anxiety behind. Lastly, Jesus speaks of focus and service in 6:33, saying “but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Spend your thoughts and efforts on living godly and growing yourself and the church, and God will take care of you. It is interesting that Jesus began this entire discussion in verse 24, with the idea that “no one can serve two masters.” Anxiety is a force by which we serve a self-destructing self. Worry, or anxiety, has a tremendous effect on how we focus and who we focus on. When anxiety is present in our lives, we should ask ourselves if we are trying to serve two masters, because we cannot properly and totally serve God if anxiety pulls our focus on God away toward a focus on “mammon” (earthly affairs).
Don’t worry, be happy. How? By knowing the facts, focusing on serving God, and surrounding every situation with prayer.