FAITH AND REFLECTION — I was reading a book recently by psychologist Gary Collins. In his section on anxiety he wrote that anxiety has been called “one of the most urgent problems of our day.” He added that it is the “official emotion of our age” and “the most pervasive psychological phenomena of our time.” In Luke 10:41 Jesus told fretful Martha, “Martha, you are anxious … about many things!” But after reading Collins I concluded that North Americans are in worse shape than Martha – we are anxious about anything.
A friend of mine struggles with chronic, oppressive anxiety. On one occasion I asked him, “If you woke in the morning and found that you are not feeling anxious, would that make you anxious?” He replied immediately and emphatically, “Yes, that would make me anxious!”
Anxiety can be the result of sin. David wrote, “I am full of anxiety because of my sin” (Psalm 38:18). However, anxiety doesn’t have to have a discernible source and some, because of their character and emotional makeup, are particularly prone.
Anxiety is a powerful and potentially destructive emotion and perennial anxiety can result in physiological, psychological and spiritual damage. Our English word “worry” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to strangle.” The New Testament word for anxious means “to be torn apart.” Neither terms are comforting.
Anxiety is unproductive. Someone said that yielding to anxiety is like trying to make a fast getaway on a wooden horse. A survey showed that anxiety is typically based on 40 per cent of things that will never happen, 30 per cent on the unchangeable past, 12 per cent about the criticism of others, 10 per cent about health and only eight per cent of real problems that must be faced. The problem is that by the time we worry our way through the first 92 per cent, there is little energy left to deal with the 8% of real issues.
Anxiety tends to become a “takeover emotion.” If we yield to it, it becomes a practice, then an entrenched habit and ultimately an all-consuming way of life. Arthur Roche said, “Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”
There is no quick and permanent fix for anxiety and it will be reoccurring in all of us, from time to time. However, a good start is to realize that God cares about us and to learn how to give our cares to Him. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you.”
“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” – George Mueller