For some time now, our two-and-a-half-year-old Alaskan Malamute Clara, has been getting anxious around 7:30 am. There is a narrow walkway between our fence and our neighbor’s fence. It is in this area that a young man who attends the nearby high school walks each weekday morning precisely at 8:10 am. From our yard, Clara can see him approaching from a good distance away. She visibly gets increasingly upset the closer he gets. I am not sure why. I wish she could tell me. She recently sniffed my new shoes and ran away scared. How did we raise such a huge nervous Nelly?
Clara’s anxiety made me think – what is it that makes us anxious? Is it an upcoming presentation or a major deadline at work, or an exam at school? My wife Tammy gets anxious before her semiannual dentist appointment. Some people are anxious about flying. I must admit I get anxious if we are scheduled to fly and there is severe weather in the forecast. And I am sure not a fan of driving in a large city like Chicago or Atlanta.
How are we to handle our anxiety or worry? The Bible tells to not be anxious about anything:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
I admit that I do tend to be anxious or worry about things. For example, I have had a longtime fear of failure; I still have dreams about showing up to class at school and not being prepared for a test. I remember being convicted early one morning at work years ago reading that day’s selection from John MacArthur’s devotional book Truth for Today, when he wrote that worry was a sin. I had never thought of worry as a sin before that. In fact, that idea makes me even more anxious!
In another of his books, Anxious for Nothing: God’s Cure for the Cares of Your Soul, MacArthur states that the wrong way to handle the stresses of life is to worry about them. He indicates that worry at any time is a sin because it violates the clear biblical command. He states that we allow our daily concerns to turn into worry, and therefore sin, when our thoughts become focused on changing the future instead of doing our best to handle our present circumstances.
So how do we overcome our worries and anxiety? MacArthur points us to prayer as the foremost way to avoid anxiety, followed by right thinking and action. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stated in his book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”… He goes on to say “we must preach to ourselves about God and what He has pledged to do.” We are to approach God with a thankful attitude, which will release us from fear and worry. This is a tangible demonstration of trusting our situation to God’s sovereign control. He also states that we need to demonstrate humility, as only from humility comes the ability to truly hand over all our cares to God.
Do you suffer from worry or anxiety? What helps you (bible passages, etc.) with your anxiety?