Worry is common. There is no doubt about this. There is not a single person in this life that will escape anxious thoughts. But there is something to be said about the intensity and consistency of the anxiety in a person that reveals much about their faith. In a Christian worldview, worry is not virtuous. It’s not something we should aspire to, but rather, repent of. That may have struck a nerve, but please hear it from a fellow sufferer who has had to be called to repentance over this very issue. I want to address this issue with gentleness and seriousness, as I believe it is one of the most destructive things in the lives of God’s people. There are real mental issues at play when it comes to anxiety that can be helped by medical professionals, but even these are from the Lord and they often do not address the real issue lurking beneath the surface. Anxiety is a faith issue at it’s core.
The Longing for Control
“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?” – Matthew 6:25
At the sermon on the mount, Christ addressed the issue of anxiety and made clear that it is NOT something we should have as a constant in our lives. Hence the words, “do not be anxious”. He goes on to describe how it is God who cares for the smallest details of creation that we might deem insignificant. If God clothes the grass and feeds the birds, how much more will he care for you. Jesus is doing what he does throughout the entirety of the sermon on the mount. He is exposing the heart of the issue. In this case, it is a longing for control. When we worry about things, we do so because we feel like we should be able to change their outcome in an ultimate way. We may even say that God is in control with our lips, but our anxious hearts tell a different story. They reveal that we want to be in control. When a Christian struggling with anxiety feels at peace, not because they have surrendered their worry to God, but because they have accomplished much, they have rejected the sovereignty of God and claimed it as their own. This is why we must repent.
You of Little Faith
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? – Matthew 6:30
When a anxious Christian is in the midst of terrible panic and worry, it is most likely a response to the fact that their faith in their own sovereignty has failed. I have been at the extreme end of this anxiety spectrum and it is not a fun place to be. Worrying about my own health, wondering if I am going to die, wondering how my family will be provided for if I die, and eventually on to the evil despair that says “I wish I would just go ahead and die”. We need to be loving with other believers who go through things like this, but we also need to be lovingly firm. This is sin that needs to be repented of. This is brokenness that is rooted in a heart that is not trusting the promises of God. Your anxiety, dear Christian, is not a joke or a light thing to be trifled with. This is why we must repent.
Repent and Believe The Gospel
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
Repentance is not just about turning from something, but turning towards something else. It is to change focus and direction. Jesus tells us our focus should be towards the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Instead of being anxious due to the fact that you are not in control, be joyful in fixing your eyes on the one who is. God the Father knows exactly what you need and he will care for you. Sometimes the things you need that he will “add to you” will not be things that you want. But he is Fatherly over all his creation, and in a more special way over all his people. We are called to turn away from our false sense of sovereignty and turn towards the true ruler of the cosmos who loves and cares for us. We are to continue in the path that we started on when he first saved us. We are to continue to repent and believe the gospel.