I am about to start a new job after having worked at the same place for 18 years. I am beginning to have feelings of inadequacy, can I even do what they want me to? Is it going to be harder than I first expected? Did I make the right decision? How can I say goodbye to all the friendships I created over that time? This has created the opportunity to ponder what is anxiety and how can we overcome it?
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a displeasing feeling of fear and concern. But over what? We are also told that there in nothing to fear but fear itself. So are we just anxious about anxiousness? What is the root cause of worry, fear, anxiety? I think it is the lack of control that we have over a situation. We are afraid of things we can’t control like cancer, a plane crashing, paying bills, our health, our children’s health , and our parents health. When you are pregnant the whole time the child is in the womb you are worried about 1000 different things. Is the heart beating right, does she have all her fingers, Is he going to be healthy? We worry because we can’t control the outcome.
How do we respond to our anxiety?
How do we overcome our fears and worries when they are out of our control. A lot of us will try to control things that we can control to compensate for this. For example, I work at a cancer center, and I have seen it time and time again when a patient will absolutely demand a specific time they want receive their treatment. Even though they have no other appointments during the day, they will vehemently demand 10:00 a.m. and that’s that. Why? Because they can’t control their cancer, so they control something else instead. Since so many of us are worried about health we do everything we can to control that. Every calorie is counted, every rep at the gym accounted for and every exercise well thought out for maximum results. Maybe your controlling comes out in different ways, such as the way your house has to be immaculate, or maybe you are a workaholic or you have your whole life written out on your day planner. This of course does not have any affect on what our anxiety is over, it just gives us a false sense of control over our life.
So then, how do we really overcome anxiety then? We need to understand we are not in control, but we have a God who is. When we worry we say we need to have control, and if we don’t something bad might happen. We are saying God cannot handle my child’s sickness. God cannot handle how I am going to get money to pay the mortgage. God cannot deal handle cancer, our jobs, our travel, our parent’s sickness. I am the one who needs to handle these things, and if I can’t this is when anxiety strikes.
What does God say about our anxieties? 1) He says in Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Here we are told instead of worrying, come to God in prayer and then the peace of God will guard us against being anxious. There is however a caveat. In order to have the peace OF God we need to have peace WITH God. It says in Romans 5:1 “Therefore since we have been justified by faith we have peace WITH God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Jesus says you are either for me or against me, there in no in between. But if you are for Him and believe in Him you are then His child, and he will give you this peace that surpasses all understanding even in your worst circumstances.
2) Jesus says in Matt 6:25 “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?
Mat 6:26 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?
Mat 6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Jesus is telling us that the Father will take care of our needs so do not worry about them. Even if you did, He says, what will that help it will not add a single hour to your life.
3) 1Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Not only will He give us this peace that surpasses all understanding and give us what we need, But here we are reminded that He cares for us. It says in Matthew 7:9-11 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! God loves us and wants to give us what we need, we just need to come to Him and ask.
We need to come to the realization that we are not in control. Rather we have a loving Creator who is in control over all things and promises to give us peace over whatever situation we are going through. It doesn’t mean that we will always get what we want or things will work out the way we want. But we know He loves us, and He has a plan for us and He is in control.