“Be Anxious for Nothing.” Why?

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anxietyPolitical instability, debt ceiling increases, mortgage payments, limping economy, higher taxes, higher cost of living, Obamacare, lay-offs, violence, terror threats, wars, severe weather, food shortages, scams, identity theft, uncertain futures, even worse – uncertain futures for children or grandchildren. Certainly if there was ever a time when we would have cause for anxiety, this is it right?

Wrong.

Acute Stress Disorder, Adjustment Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Attack Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Specific Phobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Certainly with all the psychological research we are better able to help people who battle all the different forms of anxiety, right?

Wrong.

Benzodiazepines, beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, trazodone, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, mild tranquilizers, anticonvulsants. Certainly with all the medicines available for anxiety disorders, biblical counseling for anxiety has become obsolete (or secondary) hasn’t it?

generalized-anxiety-disorder

Wrong.

Now, that being said, I believe that there has been a greater number of people who wrestle with anxiety than perhaps ever before in history. But believe it or not, I think it has a lot more to do with paragraphs 2 and 3, than with paragraph 1. In fact, I would think that people in the past had a lot more to be anxious about, so why would more people suffer with anxiety today than yesterday? I think the answer’s simple – all wrapped up in a nice little package called, “disorder.”

Calling anxiety (of whatever form) as such nails the problem on the head. It shows psychology’s lack of ability to appropriately address the problem. The use of “disorder” shows they can’t even identify the source of the problem, let alone provide a solution for it. Furthermore, the word “disorder” wrongly leads people to conclude that they have been diagnose with a disease, so they seek to address their anxiety as a disease. There are even many Christians who suffer greatly with anxiety, and believe that this is simply the cross they must bear for the sake of Christ.

definition anxiety

I hate that – because these are people who believe they have no hope in overcoming something they’ve already been given victory over (Rom. 6:14)!

They look at a verse like Philippians 4:6, which says, “Be anxious for nothing,” and they think, “Why? Is that an oversimplified command? Surely my “disorder” can’t be breaking this command.” Jesus didn’t soften that command by saying, three times in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not worry” (Matt. 6:25, 31, 34)!

pencilThe problem is, what the world now identifies as a disorder, the Bible has always called a sin – and a very serious one. These commands are without qualification or degree. We are not to have ANY anxiety, no matter what the form or the reasons we might have, to any degree at all. Whether it’s fear, or stress, or a full-blown panic attack, we need to address anxiety as the sin it is – namely, a focus on what might happen without placing confidence in the sovereignty of God.

That is why anxiety of any kind is nothing short of a sin to be taken seriously. Anxiety is a form of unbelief in God. In fact, Jesus said that anxiety is something that’s characteristic of an unbeliever, not of a believer (Matt. 6:31-32), and it is a rejection of the very nature of God.

In fact, if you’re a Christian, anxiety, worry, fear, or stress is completely illogical and incongruous considering what you know about God. I really like what Pastor John MacArthur says:

Christians who worry believe God can redeem them, break the shackles of Satan, take them from hell to heaven, put them into His kingdom, transform their nature, and give them eternal life, but just don’t think He can get them through the next couple of days. That is pretty ridiculous. We can believe God for the greater gift and then stumble and not believe Him for the lesser one.

anxiety wrong focusAnxiety is rooted in biblical, even anti-biblical thinking. For the Christian, it’s pure hypocrisy to say, “I believe the Bible and that God is in control over my life,” while behaving as though you disbelieve that principle.

There’s a simple solution to the problem though, and for those who think the solution is annoyingly simplistic shows a heart of unbelief.

Here’s how you cure anxiety:

1) Saturate your mind with the Word of God.

2) Learn about the being of God.

Again, this is what Pastor John says:

When we worry, we are not trusting our heavenly Father. That means we don’t know Him well enough. Take heart—there’s an effective remedy: study the Word of God to find out who He really is and how He has supplied the needs of His people in the past. That will build your confidence in Him for the future.

So, okay… I know that I’m not supposed to be anxious, worry, stressed, or fearful, but why? Can God really know just how much is going on in my life? If He knows, surely He doesn’t know as well as I do.

That’s not what Scripture teaches… and that’s what I want us to take a look at next time – in one of my favorite Psalms to address anxiety. Those who battle with this sin will find great joy and comfort in that passage of Scripture.

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This entry was posted in Christian Living, Counseling and tagged , , by Matt Tarr. Bookmark the permalink.
Matt Tarr

About Matt Tarr

Matt currently serves as pastor-teacher at High Point Baptist Church, Larksville, PA. Prior to his ministry at High Point, Matt also served in the counseling department at Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA, and as a chaplain at the Scranton-Wyoming Valley Rescue Mission. He enjoys spending time with his wife Melody and his two children, Jonathan and Timothy.

  • AJ Powers

    Good article. I struggle with that kind of thinking quite a lot myself. It is illogical and downright absurd to think that the Creator of the universe isn’t capable of helping us pay that bill, find that job, beat that illness, or any one of the millions of other issues we might face. I often find myself having to think about that sentence multiple times in the midst of a stressful situation and focus on the words “Creator of the universe” – once the power of that title really sinks in, I tend to gain a bit more perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t allow myself to think of that title as much as I should.

    Another issue many Christians can have is confusion on is God’s unwillingness to help us versus God’s sovereignty. We often assume if a situation didn’t work out how WE think it should work out that God didn’t/couldn’t find a solution to the problem. This certainly fuels future anxiety on other problems. It’s funny that if we would just react to problems/stresses in more of a Biblical manner, it would begin to snowball and all the sudden stress and anxiety just wouldn’t play as big of a role as it does for many of us.

    Thanks again for this article. It certainly did me well to get a reminder that it’s an ongoing battle that we must be proactive in. If Christ has taken death’s sting away from the believer, we can be quite assured that the problems/stresses in our lives are well under His control, too.

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