The Bible implores us not to be anxious, but how do we apply this practically?
I recently attended a girls' ministry forum where we spent the weekend talking about how to teach young women just like you to love and live like Jesus. One of the highlights for me was a team of child psychologists who have been offering Christian counseling to young people for several decades.
During a Q and A session with the duo, someone asked what problems they see young women dealing with the most often in the clinic. I expected to hear horror stories of sexual abuse, eating disorders, or thoughts of suicide. Instead, the psychologists looked at each other and said together, "Anxiety."
They went on to explain that their clinic has been inundated in recent years with young people who are so consumed with worry that they can barely handle the strain of their day-to-day life. In general, their anxious clients aren't victims of abuse or sufferers of post-traumatic stress who have reason to be antsy. By and large, they are seeing Christian kids from solid families who are eaten up with worry.
I'm not a Christian counselor, but I spend much of my free time with teenage girls. Of the small group of girls who attend the youth group where I volunteer, I can think of several with chronic stomachaches because of nerves, one who has panic attacks on a regular basis, and many who constantly wrestle with fear and doubt that they can neither explain or conquer. Here on the blog, we receive daily confessions from readers who tell us that everyone thinks they have their act together, but that they wrestle with a constant sense of fear and worry.
Pastor John Piper recently tweeted about Jesus' arguments against anxiety. His list provides the answers to our anxiousness in a way that is both clear and helpful. Check it out:
Life is more than food and the body more than clothing (Matt. 6:25).
God feeds the birds, and you are more valuable than they are (Matt. 6:26).
It's pointless. It adds not one hour to your life (Matt. 6:27).
God clothes ephemeral grass. He will clothe eternal you (Matt. 6:28–30).
Unbelievers are anxious about stuff, and you're not an unbeliever (Matt. 6:32).
Your Father knows you need all these things you're anxious about (Matt. 6:32).
When you seek first God's kingdom and righteousness, what you need is added to you (Matt. 6:33).
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Tomorrow's trouble stays there (Matt. 6:34).
Do you know all the reasons God gives in His Word not to be anxious? I want to encourage you to get serious about memorizing His truth in this area. In fact, I want you to start today. Choose one reason not to worry from the list above, and write it down somewhere you can see it often today (your school notebook, the steering wheel of your car, your locker). Then meditate (that's a fancy word for think about) that reason often. Once you feel like you've let God's truth in this area really stick in your heart, move on to a different truth from the list and repeat the process.
Certainly life in general offers plenty of valid reasons to get worked up. But God's Word is clear; anxiety is for those who don't rest in the hand of the living God. It won't help you, and it's not okay to allow yourselves to become eaten up with worry.
How do we begin the process of unloading the anxiousness that has woven its way into our hearts and minds? Philippians 4:6 outlines an important first step: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Let's take that step together right now:
Dear Jesus, We confess to you that we are often anxious even though your Word tells us not to be. Please forgive us for the times when our hope is clearly not in You. Lord teach us to ditch our worry and trust You more and more. Amen.