Political 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?
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?
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?
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.
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)!
The 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 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.