“Ok Mr. Preacher”, you say, “I believe in and agree with everything you are telling me, but I still get worried and anxious. What can I do?”
[Discussion: What can Christians do when thoughts of fear and anxiety attack their minds?]
The best-known teaching on anxiety is in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6), through which our Lord warns us against being anxious about the various cares of this life. For the child of God, even necessities like food and clothing are nothing to worry about. Have you been worried about food in the midst of the corona virus outbreak? I know I have. I’ve been worried about what we’ll eat if the supermarkets run out of food. This is a sin. Sure, the Bible commands me to be diligent, and indeed I should take necessary precautions to prepare, but beyond that, being anxious and worried is a sin.
Jesus taught our Heavenly Father knows our needs and cares. If God manages trivialities like grass, flowers, and birds, won’t he care for people who are created in his image, for his children? Rather than worry about what we can’t control, we should “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Placing God first is a cure for anxiety.
In the end however, it all comes down to you remembering what God wants you to remember.
[Why does God, throughout the Bible, constantly make a “fuss” about remembering what he has said and done?]
We forget easily. Do you know what question Jesus asks people most frequently in the Gospels? “Have you not read?”
Matt. 12:3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him:
Matt. 12:5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?
Matt. 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
Matt. 22:31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God:
Mark 12:10 Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
Mark 12:26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?
Luke 6:3 And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:
These “have you not read” questions were rhetorical. Jesus wasn’t really wondering if they had read. He knew they had. The Jews were very religious and were constantly hearing the Bible being read at synagogues. The problem was that they were not remembering, believing, nor applying what the Bible taught. The Jews were not internalizing what they had read. We have the same problem. That’s one of the main reasons why we’re anxious. So, let’s review and remind ourselves what the Bible says about worry and anxiety so that Jesus doesn’t have to ask us: “Have you not read?”
We can count on the Lord to provide for our needs, protect us from evil, guide us, and keep our souls secure for eternity. Does this mean that if we just have enough faith, anxious thoughts will never enter our mind? Of course not!
[Discussion: If we can’t negative thoughts from entering our mind, what can we do?]
We can’t stop negative thoughts from entering our minds, but we can choose how we react. We can practice our response.
[Discussion: What are some different reactions to anxiety?]
Philippians 4:6 instructs us to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
The promised result is in the next verse: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When anxious and worrying thoughts enter your mind, be diligent, by prayer, by petition, and with thanksgiving [you always have things to be thankful for], make your requests known to God. Transferring worry and anxiety onto God’s shoulders is the right, effective, correct response. He has promised to deal with it, so why not ask?
But is this how we usually react? No, it’s not. At least in my own personal case, often when I find myself in a trial, my first reaction is to handle it myself. Then, and only then, if it looks like I can’t deal with the situation, or once I’ve done everything I can do, I might pick up the phone and dial my father, God. But this is wrong, I have it in reverse! My first reaction should be to get God involved. Then, through prayer, asking him for strength and wisdom to do what I can diligently do. Beyond that, the problem is God’s to resolve and at that point, there really isn’t anything for me to be anxious or worrying about, unless I think God can’t or is not willing to do what he has promised to do.
Stay tuned for part 6 (Final).