The cure of anxiety Part 1
“”Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Matthew 6:25-27 ESV
Jesus said three times in this passage, Matthew 6:25-34, “do not be anxious about these things” because believers are not like the heathen who don’t have hope. Believers in Christ have a Father in heaven.
In this series of 8 devotions I want to look at three things:
• What is anxiety?
• The diagnosis
• The prescription
1. What is anxiety?
i. It is a sin
We first of all have to call it what it is. Anxiety is not an unfortunate state of being, a necessary evil, which most of the human race must succumb to. It is not an inevitability, a sad state of affairs we must come to grips with as frail human beings. It is not just one of those things in life which we cannot avoid. Jesus Christ was never anxious, never panicky, never paralysed by anxiety. Yes, in Getsemany he sweated drops of blood, he knew what was coming, he knew of the cup he was about to drink, but he did not panick, he was not anxious, because he was in the centre of the will of God. He knew why he was born, to go to the cross.
Let’s call anxiety what it is: sin. Evil. A fruit of unbelief in God. Many people around the world, even Christians, suffer from panick attacks, or anxiety attacks. These attacks are usually caused by what psychologist would call it, stressors, or trauma, or difficult circumstances. We are not saying that there are not logical reasons why people get anxious. There are horrific situations in life people have to deal with, uncertain times like the ones we live in today, that cause anxiety in many. But how is it that the Reformers of old, like Bishop Latimar and Ridley went to the stake, to be burned, by the Roman Catholic Church, with a song in their hearts? How is it that Paul the apostle while being in prison with Silas, after being beaten, sang songs to the Lord? I know that is supernatural, to be able to sing in times of suffering, but that is what God has called us to.
Anxiety is a sin. It is evil, because it displays distrust in God.
ii. It is a sickness
When anxiety takes hold of a person, and gets hold of a person, when fear grips a person to the extent that it immobilizes, it becomes a sickness. The soul that is perpetually anxious, is a spiritually sick person. Some people it seems can’t live without worrying about something. I have encountered people like that, it seems that they get drawn to anxiety, like a moth to a flame. It is as if they can’t live life without worrying about something. It becomes the new normal, or like a hobby and favorite past-time, to be in a state of worry. And we have to be careful not to be sucked into this state of worry and anxiety. When you have become accustomed to this state of worry, it will take some sort of a miracle to get out of it. Anxiety, in fact, takes control of people. The soul that is married to worry and anxiety becomes spiritually sick. In times like these, with the uncertainty about war in Europe or the possibility of nuclear war growing and our futures being uncertain, we must not succumb to this spiritual sickness. It can certainly cause a lot of damage to your spiritual life.
iii. It affects everything
Anxiety is of such a nature that it controls everything. You see everything as if through the lens of fear. If you are not worried about your livelihood then you become worried about your health, and if it is not your health, then it is your clothes, and if it not your clothes then it is being unattractive and if it not that, then worry about your job, then it is your wife or husband’s or child’s health or schoolwork. If it is not your family’s problems then it is politics, or the economy, if not the economy then retirement, if not retirement then something else. You cannot stop the worry. It seems you are on a rollorcoaster and you cannot get off. You see, because being worried is a kind of disease it affect everything in your life. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t walk in wisdom and make plans for our future and take care for our families, and have a calling and a job or do family planning and save money, if you are able, for retirement, or pray for the country, but we must never separate these things into nice little compartments and divorce them from God and his perspective and providence.
Jesus repeated three times in this passage,
“do not be anxious”.
Take it to heart. Do not be anxious. He repeated these words to emphasise the fact that it is not His will for believers to live in a perpetual state of worry. May God help us all and deliver us all and May we know his peace from day to day and from hour to hour, the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7).