For the faithful few who have been reading this blog… hello! I have been on a month long trip to England, eating way too much cheese and crackers, sightseeing (hello Big Ben) and soaking up time with family! Lots of posts to come on my time here, but I wanted to share with you an article I wrote for Relevant Magazine about anxiety and worry. Hope you enjoy it! –Rachael
One of the easiest ways to disable a person, I think, is to make them anxious.
I am not talking about an anxiety disorder, a diagnosable mental disorder that can be treated by doctors, therapy or medication. (To learn about about anxiety disorders and how to receive help, you can visit NIMH.NIH.gov.) I am talking about a general anxiousness, worrying, asking what ifs that are a part of everyday life. I am talking about the discomfort caused by the mind racing faster than mouth or logic, worrying about tomorrow, worrying about all that we don’t know or about what could happen.
The Bible is far from silent on the topic of anxiety. It says so much about worry, the faithfulness of God, and how we are to respond to it. Here are a few ways the Bible addresses anxiety.
We Are Cared For
Often in the Church, worry is looked upon as a sin. Often, people don’t like to talk about it because it’s almost taboo; those who do bring it up are frequently offered quick solutions of “God is good” or “Have more faith.”
The Bible though, is gentle toward those who worry. In 1 Peter 5:7, the Bible tells us to “cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you” (emphasis mine). In Matthew 11:28, Jesus, with arms wide open, calls for the weary and heavy laden to come to Him, and He will give them rest.
Sheldon Vanauken, the author of A Severe Mercy, wrote that “to believe with certainty, one has to begin by doubting.” In a world where good and evil, joy and suffering exist so painfully close to each other, it’s hard to get very far believing in a Sovereign God without asking difficult questions. Very often, we ask those questions in the midst of pain, grief or anxiety.
How assuring to know we don’t have a God who stares at us from a distance, eyebrows raised and arms crossed, waiting for us to finally figure this all out, but, rather “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). I love the imagery of Psalm 56:8: “You keep track of all my sorrows, you have collected all my tears on your bottle, you have recorded each one in your book.”
I think that God is far more gracious, more gentle and tenderhearted toward our anxious hearts than we understand. Memorizing Scripture gives us a small window into that love, which is a vast and endless sea.
In A Circle of Quiet, author Madeline L’Engle said that we are all afraid of the dark. If worry, after all, comes from a fear of not being in control, then isn’t sleep and loss of consciousness the ultimate act of surrender? Even in darkness though, there is always, always, light. With the blackest of nights come the best view of the stars.
Maybe, even though God made the night and knows there is nothing in it to fear, He gave us stars to light it because He knows we might be afraid anyway.