Anxiety is hard wired into our brains and our physical body chemistry – think “flight or fight”. Plainly put, when doled out properly, anxiety keeps us alive.
But somewhere along the line, for many, many, many of us, this security system of ours has become like a panic button that goes off all too often at a very high “volume”.
Here are two definitions of anxiety from Merriam Webster:
(1) : apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious
(2) medical : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it
According to Max Lucado (from his book, Anxious for Nothing), the United States is the most chronically anxious nation in the world. Fifty percent of adults over the age of 25 report seeing a doctor at least once in the past year for an anxiety related symptom. And (this one just about breaks my heart-open into a gazillion pieces): seventy-five percent of school aged kids report experiencing anxiety on a regular basis.
Why? Well, Lucado theorizes it all has to do with rapid changes. We have experienced more change in this generation than any generation in the last 300 years. Everything from technology, to travel, to instant access to anything and just about everything in between. All good things, intentionally speaking, of course. But they’ve come alongside our regular anxieties of daily living to sort of wallop us with daily exposure to fear.
Anxiety causes a HOST of physical problems. It can be as benign as a stress headache or queasy stomach or as quality of life altering like high blood pressure, ulcers, immune and autoimmune issues.
The effects on the mind can be equally as debilitating from panic and phobias, to depression, addictions, etc.
But how does anxiety mess or harm with us spiritually? It causes us doubt the sovereignty of God and turns us inward to rely on our own devices, attempting to take back control of things that were never meant to be our responsibility.
Lysa Terkeurst, in Unglued says this, however: “Feelings are indicators, not dictators.” And what she means by that is that our emotions and the feelings that come from them are like flags being waved that say, “Hey you! Something is going on that needs attention.” Emotions come from a gut feeling. Nine times out of ten, we do not need to spontaneously react from the gut feeling. Instead, we need to create a plan of action that should come from the mind, after some prayer and listening to God.
This is possible, girls! Listen to our Power Pack Scripture this week:
I particularly LOVE the New King James Version on this one because it’s the perfect counter to the lie of anxiety. It gives us the confidence to look anxiety in the face and say, “God didn’t put you here so get the heck out.”
Then, we start arming ourselves with other power-packed TRUTH to help us in the battle.
You know how much I love Bible trivia, so here are a couple fun facts for you:
- Directives regarding fear show up a whopping 366 times in the NIV; second only to LOVE (551), and just above gratitude/thanksgiving (340).
- Philippians 4:4-8 is the most read passage in the Bible on a Kindle
- Philippians 4:6 is the most underlined sentence on kindle
Now, I’m not so naïve to think it takes one prayer, one moment of clarity with God about it, and your circumstance changes and you never have anxiety again. If you look at the most anxious and emotionally charged story about Jesus in the Bible, it’s when He is praying in the Gethsemane. Scripture tells us he didn’t just pray once about what was going to happen, you guys. He went to His knees about it three times. This thing we have with anxiety, sister, it’s an ongoing battle.
I whole heartedly agree with Beth Moore when she says that we have no bigger battle in our life-long, day-to-day living than our battle with anxiety.
But the first thing I want us to remember as we start digging deep into this topic is that we can rest in the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7 and Philippians 4:4-8. God has given us a freedom plan from freaking out.
In these next couple weeks, there is another sweet piece of scripture you’re going to want to lean in on:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7, NIV
Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7, NKJV
I wanted you to hear it in two versions. The NIV calls it out for what it is, right? ANXIETY. But the cool revelation about it comes from digging down into the Greek lexicon from the NKJV.
Twice in that verse the word “cares” is used. The second use of it comes from a word that means tender loving-kindness and care, as in the type one receives from a parent.
The first “care” is translated from the Greek word, merimna, which means “anything that brings disruption and destruction to the personality and the mind.” That’s the level of anxiety He is asking us to cast upon Him. ANYTHING. ALL THINGS. Big, small, and everything. Cast it ALL upon Him.
Next week, we’re diving into HOW that all looks, practically, in our daily lives. It IS possible, sweet friends, to kick our Worry Bully to the curb and live with peace in our hearts!
Peace, love, and JOY!
PS – If anxiety is affecting your daily life in negative ways, I encourage you to reach out to a professional to help you navigate effective and positive ways of dealing with it. This could include a doctor, a therapist, a counselor, a pastor, etc. If your anxiety or ANYTHING else ever brings you to a place where you are considering harming yourself or someone else, PLEASE TELL SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY and seek emergency assistance. I’m praying for you.