In Times of Anxiety
I said, "I am falling"; But your constant love, O Lord, held me up. Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad. (Psalm 94:18-19, GNB)
Anxiety – worrying about what might happen – is something that can hit us all at times. Sometimes the anxiety is "free-floating," without any obvious cause to spark it off; sometimes it has more specific causes. Some that are found in the Bible include: concern about the future (e.g. John 14:1-4), getting under pressure to get things done (e.g. Luke 10:38-42), stressful circumstances (e.g. Luke 2:41-48), worrying about others (e.g. Philippians 2:25-30), worldliness (e.g. Matthew 6:25-34), disobedience to God (e.g. Deuteronomy 28:15, 65-68). Those are quite wide-ranging things: some rooted in events over which we have no control, others over which we do.
Whatever our anxiety’s cause, the Bible encourages us to bring it to God. That’s certainly what David did. In Psalm 55, for example, he mixes honest expression of anxiety with declarations of trust in God. His anxiety comes out in such phrases as: ‘My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked’ (vv. 2-3); ‘My heart is in anguish within me’ (v. 4). In fact, he is so anxious that he just wants to run: ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest’ (v. 6). But then there are the declarations of trust in God: ‘But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice’ (vv. 16-17); ‘But as for me, I trust in you’ (vv. 23). And of one thing he is utterly sure, despite all his feelings at that moment: ‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall’ (v. 22 Whatever our anxieties may be, the Bible encourages us not to pretend they aren’t there, but to bring them to God who has committed himself to being faithful to us and to sustaining us until we come through.
Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NCV)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont