“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
In How To Gain Perfect Peace (Part 2), we focused on the perfect peace of God. We learned through Scripture that “perfect peace is supernatural, it is not like the temporary calmness and tranquility that you feel when relaxing on the beach or at the spa. There is nothing we can humanly do to obtain perfect peace on our own. Those who have perfect peace receive it from God as a gift along with the gift of salvation.”
For this part of the mini series let’s focus on the first portion of the key verses, “Be anxious for nothing”. We all experience anxiousness to varying levels and when we do, it’s frustrating, looks nothing like peace, and even leads to sin. Yeah that’s right, sin! If we are to gain perfect peace (which we can only achieve through a relationship with a holy, just, and perfect God that hates sin) we must seek out what God has to say in His Word about being anxious and anxiety, and obey Him.
What Is Anxiety?
Let’s begin here by defining what we are talking about. For the purpose of this blog post, anxiety, anxious/anxiousness, worry, and fear will be lumped into the same category (they essentially have the same meaning) although people experience them differently, by degree and type.
So what’s anxiety? “A disturbed state of mind produced by real or imaginary fears” (Strong, J.) is a simple yet good definition for anxiety because it simply tells us that there is an illogical thought process going on when we experience anxiety and that this irrational thinking is caused by real or imagined threats to us. What comes as a surprise to many, including myself, is that anxiety would be considered a sin.
In the book Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges calls anxiety a sin and he gives two reasons for this belief:
- a distrust of God
- and a lack of accepting God’s providence for our lives.
As I mentioned above, we all experience anxiety at varying levels, however, regardless of what level we experience anxiety we need to trust God, trust His Word, and trust His sovereign will over our lives. Our trust in Him should be reflected in our thinking, words, and actions.
What the Bible Says About Anxiety?
So we got a definition for what anxiety is, but what does the Bible say about it? Let’s look at what Scripture says about anxiety to know what God thinks so that we can be so ever careful to live a life that pleases Him as a result of our knowledge of Him.
Although there are many verses that relate to worry, fear, anxiousness, and anxiety these are a few that stood out to me
- Joshua 1:9 states, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- Psalms 38:18 states, “For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.”
- Psalms 94:19 states, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”
- Proverbs 12:25 states, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.”
- Isaiah 35:4 states, “Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.”
- Jeremiah 17:8 states, “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.”
- Jeremiah 42:16 states, “Then the sword, which you are afraid of will overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine, about which you are anxious, will follow closely after you there in Egypt, and you will die there.”
- Matthew 6:25 states, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
- Matthew 6:27 states, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
- Matthew 6:31 states, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’
- Matthew 6:34 states, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
- John 14:27 states, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
- 1 Peter 5:7 states, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
As we read over this list of Scripture (not an exhaustive list by the way) we learn what God thinks about anxiety and anxiousness. Although not explicitly stated, we see anxiety as a sin because God tells us through His word not to be fearful, worrisome, or anxious. Yet we continue to be those things because of sin (cause and effect). We also learn who God is and His response to our fears. In several of these verses we learn that we should not be fearful, anxious, or worrisome. Instead we are to be courageous, self-controlled, and confident in the LORD. Not just when things are going well, but when things are at their worst (when you don’t know where your family’s next meal is coming from and your only vehicle to get to work just broke down, or your mom has cancer and it’s killing you to see her deteriorate each day from the medications that are suppose to be helping her, or your husband committed adultery and now the details are all over the internet…). Let’s be honest, it’s not that there isn’t anything to be worried or fearful about (God knows this), but that God is greater than that which troubles us and He has provided an eternal way through Jesus for us to have perfect peace in our times of storm and sorrow. Most comforting though is that He is always with us as we go through it all.
There is a saying that goes “knowing is half the battle”, an essential half indeed. If you want to overcome any obstacle in your life you have to be knowledgeable about it. In the case of anxiety, you need to be aware of the symptoms, triggers, causes, remedies, and when to seek professional help. As a Christian, your most important resource is the Bible as it will teach you all that you need to know (2 Timothy 3:16) in order to live a life pleasing onto the Lord. However, do not neglect to seek wise counsel when physical and mental burdens become too much to cope with.
We know that we continue to live in a sinful fallen world and as a result we continue to experience conflict, pain, sickness, etc. But God tells us to come to Him (Matthew 11:28). He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is our rock (Isaiah 26:4) and our refuge (Psalm 46:1) in whom or what shall we fear (Psalm 27:1)? He tells us to come to Him for His yoke is easy (Matthew 11:29-30).
In Philippians 4:6-7 we are reminded to not worry about anything, but to take all our fears, worries, anxieties and even sins to God in prayer with thanksgiving. Why? Because He cares (1 Peter 5:6-7) and is sovereign over everything (Romans 8:28)! With this knowledge we can be assured regardless of what things look like, regardless of our current situations, regardless of our finances, our health, our relationships or lack thereof. We can trust our Lord to keep our hearts and minds in perfect peace!
Ultimately we must place our entire confidence and trust in the Lord in order to overcome anxiety and live in perfect peace with Him. In How To Gain Perfect Peace (Part 4) I will share more of how I am personally overcoming anxiety.
“Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD…Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD…” – Jeremiah 17:5-8
Life App (Application): Do not worry, but prepare…
- Pray daily about everything
- Seek wise counsel (The Bible, Your Pastor, The Brethren, and/or a Biblical Counselor)
- Praise God through it all
Anxiety is sin, but more important there is a cure!
To be continued in Part 4.
Strong, J., LL.D, S.T.D. (2010). Anxiety. In The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (p. 16). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.