What does the Bible say about anxiety?

Ironically I have been thinking more about what to include in this post more than any other. I wanted to be helpful, but not offend anyone, and not try to give medical Advice! I think that’s why I’m actually going to keep it quite short!

I was so pleased earlier in the year to see members of the royal family, William, Kate and Harry speaking about mental health, and raising awareness of it. Mental health is a real issue, and yet one which doesn’t seem to get as much support as others, but more horrifically one which is considered to be a taboo subject – one which people don’t talk about. This then means that people aren’t willing to share when they are struggling, which will often make the issue worse. There are many specific conditions within mental health, but this week we are going to talk about anxiety.

Everybody gets anxious. People will get anxious about different things and the anxiety will affect them in different ways but everyone gets anxious.

Rather than giving specific advice again, I’m going to talk about the affect that anxiety can have. Our thought for the week comes from Charles Spurgeon which says

“Anxiety doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows but only empties today of its strength”

Quite often we can spend so much time worrying about things in the future, that we don’t necessarily have control over, that we lose the day that we are living. When I think about some of the things that I get anxious about I sometimes think “what on earth were you worried about that for?”. This isn’t to say that the anxiety wasn’t real in the first place, but actually when I look back I realise I was anxious about things that were out of my control, or things that wouldn’t have been so much of a concern if I had just tackled them in the first place.

Unfortunately this is all in hindsight, which is a wonderful thing, but not particularly helpful at the time.

So what does the Bible say about anxiety? There are a number of passages which express that we shouldn’t worry, but that we should trust that God make sure that we are OK. We saw in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus himself was anxious about his crucifixion, and asked God the Father to “take this cup from me”. Which reminds me of a present I was given a few years ago which said “let go and let God”. As tempting as it seems to be that you can just write down everything that you are anxious about and give it to God, that isn’t what it means. Instead we should allow God to give us the strength to deal with things we can deal with, or if it is something beyond our control that we trust God to help in that situation. Talking is a necessity when it comes to anxiety, whether that is talking to other people or whether it is talking to God. Keeping it to yourself is never going to be beneficial, but talking to too many people isn’t always helpful either. I know I have a few people who I confide in regularly which isn’t too overwhelming.

Although there are many verses about not worrying in the Bible the verse that was given for this topic was actually from 2 Corinthians and it says

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul, who wrote Corinthians went through a lot persecution, and was probably anxious a lot of the time. Here he is being honest and saying that he specifically asked God to take away his burdens from him, but instead he realised that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. There is a clip I’ve seen numerous times which shows how artists taken broken pots and then put them back together with Gold, which makes them all the more beautiful.

Quite often we will see God at work in our lives more when we are struggling than when things seem to be hunky dory. The famous Poem footprints talks about Jesus carrying the person during the tough times. This is not to say we should seek difficulties and make ourselves more anxious, but when we find ourselves in those situations, we should ask God to help us and strengthen us, and then we will see his glory.

Life is a journey, there are many twists and turns, highs and lows, but if we are walking that journey with God at all times, then we will have someone to rejoice when things are great, and someone to turn to, cry on and be carried by, when things are rough. Personally, that’s the kind of company I’d like to keep.

Challenge: write a list of things that you are anxious about. Which things can you do something about? Ask God to strengthen you. Which things can’t you do anything about? Hand it over to God.

Prayer: father God, we thank you that you walk alongside us. Help us to not hold on to our anxieties but to hand them over to you, to help us with them. Help us also to be an ear for others who are anxious. Amen

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