Why Am I So Anxious??

separation-anxiety.jpgAnxiety. A curse. A bane. Sleepless nights and fearful days. Why aren’t they home yet?.. Is that man after my child?… Do I look fat in this? Is that a lump? Why haven’t I started yet? Ugh, it’s only 2, when will morning get here?? I forgot to study for that test! Oh no! I forgot that meeting! Surely they won’t notice my eye is twitching… will they? Will dad notice the smell on my breath?

Anxiety seems inevitable – so why did God have to tell us “[d]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”? Surely He didn’t mean that. What really qualifies as anxious anyway? I have to be prudent, concerned, think about things a little, right?!

We can count on a couple of things. God is faithful. And He won’t ask something of us that He won’t give us the ability to handle it. 1 Corinthians 10:13. Moreover, Jesus lived it. He knows. He is our great high priest who can relate to every aspect of our struggles. He clothed Himself with humanity and tasted our frailty.

We can also see a biblical portrait of anxiety in the Old Testament. The Old Testament nation of Israel often provides a historical look at an ancient people AND a word picture of spiritual application for us today. When God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and provided them His Law, He told them exactly what would happen if they obeyed and exactly what would happen if they disobeyed.

In Deuteronomy 28 we see both blessings and curses. Beginning in verse 64 we read this:

64 Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”-because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. 68 The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.

Here we see that Israel, if disobedient, will be dispersed/scattered among other nations and when that happens they will be filled with anxiety. Because of disobedience, God will remove the Israelites from their place of rest, their home, and put them in a place where they were not intended to live and be. Instead, their disobedience took them outside their God-given comfort zone.

When God calls us to rest in Him, trusting Him with all our hearts, and shows us His plans for us, then we have a choice. We can obey or disobey. Did God call you to the work you are currently doing? Are you in the place He planned for you? If not, you will be scattered to a place He did not intend for you. And, as a result you will be filled with an anxious mind and a despairing heart. One could even say that if you have an anxious mind and a desparing heart it is good evidence of the fact that you are not in the home He has prepared for you!

Some would argue, “That’s ridiculous. If my work causes me anxiety that is just because of the curse of sin. Don’t you remember that when God cursed the ground after the Fall He made work hard and difficult?” But to such an argument I would respond as follows: “God created work for us as a blessing before the Fall. Genesis 2 tells us that ‘ The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’ Moreover, Romans 8 reminds us that there is no longer any condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus!” Work has been redeemed for God’s sons and daughters.

So, if these thoughts are pricking your heart, what can you do??? Well, again, His word is a good place to go…

First, Psalm 139:23 tells us to ask God about our anxiety: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Pray and ask Him what to do. Ask Him to search out your heart and direct you. In every way of your life acknowledge God and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6.

Second, surround yourself with godly people who are also seeking God’s way in all things. Proverbs 12:25 tells us that “[a]n anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” We need godly men and women, filled with the spirit, overflowing with the fruits of joy and kindness in our lives and who can counsel us with godly wisdom.

Third, take up God’s ways and not the ways of the world. Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 reminds us of the emptiness of striving for all the world has to offer: “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.” It is only when we offer ourselves as living sacrifices that we can truly worship Him and not worship ourselves or other foreign gods, which is what leads to anxiety and captivity in foreign lands…

And finally, know Jesus well and worship Him alone. In the last part of Luke 2 we see what happens when we don’t really know Jesus and aren’t looking for Him where He is. In fact, even though it is a story about Jesus’ earthly parents, who should have known Jesus as well as anyone, they are so self-absorbed they don’t realize they haven’t seen Jesus for days. Mary and Joseph suddenly realize they haven’t seen Jesus and they are filled with anxiety, frantically looking for Jesus in all the wrong places. They finally go to the temple (the place of worship). When they see him, Mary asks Jesus, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Jesus calmly asks them why they didn’t know where He would be. Anxiety is borne in Mary and Joseph because they didn’t know Jesus well enough to know that He of course would be in His Father’s house.

Where are you today? Do you know Jesus? Do you know God’s plan for your life? Do you know that you are right where God plans for you to be? Or are you in captivity in a foreign land? Ask God. He knows your heart better than you do. But a few clues might be sleepless nights, recurring fear and worry, self-absorption, never having enough time to do anything but make it through the day, a life that seems mostly about getting through each day rather than about serving others. Ring any bells?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post As We Prepare To Leave The Country
Next post Lightening Heavy Hearts