Anxiety—What good does it do?
Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled…”
“Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you.” I Peter 5:7.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
I have been doing this work for a long time. For more than 31 years, I have lived with and served the people of God. During that time, there have been wars, terror attacks, recessions, stunning Super Bowl losses, natural disasters, shocking deaths, dotcom and housing bubbles.
Through it all, good times and bad, we have continued to focus on Jesus, we have continued to worship and serve together. We have been through a lot together, and by the grace of God we are still standing.
I am not sure that I can prove it, but it seems that more people are plagued with anxiety now than ever before. Why is that? Why so much anxiety? Are our fears founded? Are our lives in danger; is our way of life in peril?
When I was in grade school I remember three distinct disaster drills. Fire drills made for an orderly march out to the playground. Tornado drills meant that we would gather in the hallway by our lockers and brace ourselves for a violent wind. And then there were the nuclear bomb attack drills where we would get under our desks as if hiding there would protect us.
None of it phased me. I was a kid. I did not carry anxiety about anything. And when school was over, we went home and stayed outside playing with friends until dinner time. We never watched the news and never worried about world events. We said our prayers and went to bed.
I can’t prove it, but it seems to me that more people are living with anxiety than ever before. Now, intellectually we may know that we have never been safer than we are today. Statistics will show that we are less likely to be killed, attacked, or fall victim to a contagion than any time in human history.
We live with full refrigerators, safe streets, and unparalleled opportunity and affluence. And yet more of us are medicated, depressed, and plagued with anxiety.
Here is my take, and it is only my take. We have a crisis caused by a 24-hour news, fake news, and sensationalized news cycle. It is not healthy for us to take in bad news, contentious politics, and blown out of proportion threats, 24 hours a day. And we have a crisis of faith. We spend more time watching and worrying than we do praying to and trusting the one who gave us life and will meet us in death.
Take yourself out of the fast lane and put yourself in the path of the Gospel. Give yourself a break now and then, and contemplate all that is good in the world. Turn it off, take a deep breath and be still, know that God is with you, and you can cast all your anxiety on God.
To quote a great church hymn, “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”