There’s a form of anxiety that is common.
You know it like the back of your hand. And you’ve learn to live with it and accept it into your life like a friend. This is type of anxiety most of us face.
There’s a severe form of anxiety. It affects fewer people. It is serious. And it has been given a serious response HERE
This post is on the former.
Let me ask, when did anxiety become an acceptable sin?
Is it because anxiety is so universal? As someone confesses, we all shake our heads in agreement with the confessor. “Yeah,” we pander, “anxiety is tough.”
Is it because it’s misunderstood? We could define anxiety as an excessive care or concern. That doesn’t sound too bad. I mean, if a little bit of care and concern is a good thing, then A LOT of care and concern should be better. Right?
Anxiety is actually a great prayer request. It’s akin to asking for
prayer for “caring too much and working too hard.”
Imagine different styles of music representing different confessional styles. No one wants a small group filled with Hard Rock in-your-face-and-too-excessive-in-detail confessions. Nor is this the place for recycled/outdated/Oldies confessions from childhood. After all, we do want transparency. And we’re sure to balk at (or throat punch) the teenager-pop-station confession about how no prayer is needed because life is sooooo great. And do I even need to add the annoyance of country confessions? How often are you going to confess about drinking excessively after losing your truck, dog, or gal (or some combo)?
So we choose LITE FM confessions. Working too hard is confession LITE. Caring too much is confession LITE. Being anxious about (insert something that is truly important) is confession LITE. It’s not ugly. It’s understandable. It’s acceptable.
Anxiety just ain’t that ugly anymore.
That’s not how the Bible speaks of it.
Listen to this almost biblical description of anxiety and what the response ought to be:
“Anxiety is practicing failure in advance. It is needless and imaginary. It’s fear about fear, fear that means nothing. Anxiety is diffuse and focuses on possibilities in an unknown future, not a real and present threat…’needless anxiety’ is redundant because anxiety is always needless.”
Wow. That’ll preach.
Where did this quote come from? Was it one of our contemporary rock star preachers? Was it the sage Keller or the excitable Chandler? Was it one of the famous dead guys named Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin, or Lewis?
Nope. None of them.
This seemingly Christian advice comes from a person I have no reason to believe is a Christian: Seth Godin. Seth is an author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker. He has a lot of great things to say but he is not a preacher. And his advice comes not from the Bible but as attempt to help people overcome resistance they face.
Or consider this quote from Mark Twain: I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
So, get this, anxiety is decried in the Bible (which should be enough). And by Seth Godin. And by Mark Twain. But not by us. Hmmmm…
Anxiety is fear about fear. We are afraid about what could happen. What could happen has NOT happened. Yet it could. And our response to it is fear.
We excessively concerns ourselves with thoughts of potential doom and how that would make us feel and change our lives. We plot and plan our own demise which has not happened (and almost certainly won’t, at least not to the degree we create in our minds). And then we consider how we could avoid it. Or overcome it. And when no exit or power is evident, our worry increases!
And it is needless.
“There it is,” you respond, “The trump card of all trump cards. I mean, which of us is smart enough to summon a defense against the Great Almighty? Okay, God. You win. You’re right. I won’t be anxious about this anymore.”
That last line morphs into “I’ll try not to be anxious anymore” which further dilutes to “I’ll ask for prayer for it.” Dah!! We’re right back where we started.
How do we get off this anxiety roller coaster?
- We turn from anxiety because God is over all. Simply put, because God exists, we need not (must not) be anxious. He knows what you need. Your excessive care and concern isn’t helpful. God’s got this.
- We seek God daily because he is first in our lives. Tim Chester says in You Can Change, “We often associate the sovereignty of God with theological debates. But for all of us it’s a daily practical choice” (emphasis mine).
“I can’t just not be anxious,” you respond. Yes, you can. Because of him. Turn away from it. Turn back to God. You may not even realize how far it has carried you away from God. Don’t accept that. Don’t ever accept that.
- What anxiety do you need to turn away (rather than just confess)? Does it help to recast anxiety from excessive care to fear about fear? How might God lessen your fear about fear?
- How can we, as a community of people, help one another to not let the sin of anxiety rule in our lives?