Worry vs. Anxiety

worry

Some of the literal translations of the Bible do not do not contain the word “worry” anywhere in the contents. Search a KJV or ESV Bible for the word worry and it will not be found. Many people think that the Bible tells us not to worry because God is in control. While it is true to a degree it is not true in the way we might think. Dictionary.com defines worry as “to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts” and that sounds awful. The Bible does use a similar word, “anxiety”, that many people use interchangeably with “worry” in every day speech. In fact many of the newer translations use “worry” and “anxiety” interchangeably. The KJV does not use the newer words “worry” or “anxiety” but uses older words like “Be careful for nothing” or in Christian speak one might say they “cast their cares to God”. But in modern language worry and anxiety have taken over the conversation. Anxiety is the primary word used by the ESV when it translates the Greek μεριμνάω (me-rēm-nä’-ō). This Greek word, μεριμνάω, means “to be anxious or to be troubled with cares”.

6 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 ESV

I do not think of myself as a worrier. Crazy scenarios like bears attacking me in my sleep while camping might pop in my mind but then I just shrug my shoulders and go back to sleep. My wife on the other hand worries about all kinds of plausible ill-fated scenarios while camping. Moms by nature are known for their ability to worry. Is that a bad thing to be concerned about the pitfalls of life and want to avoid them? I don’t think so and I doubt God would want his people to not worry about clear and present dangers. The greatest danger of all that every person alive should worry about is where they stand with God. If you are not saved by Christ then you should be gravely worried.

I may not worry about much but I am anxious. I have been an anxious person my entire life. My anxiety is in full force when it comes to interactions (like parties) with people. The nervousness of it all wears me out. Dictionary.com defines anxious as “full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune”. Reasonable worries might be used in a productive way to keep one safe. Anxiety however is full on mental trouble that may be crippling in any productive life. Psychology Today has a great article that breaks down the difference between Worry and Anxiety. Here are two key points.

“If you’re concerned about getting fired because you did really poorly on a project, you’re worried. If you’re concerned about getting fired because your boss didn’t ask about your child’s piano recital, you’re anxious.”

“Worry tends to be more focused on thoughts in our heads, while anxiety is more visceral in that we feel it throughout our bodies.”

That last one really hits home for me. My anxiety around people impacts me physically. On occasion I have a duty that requires that I speak publicly. The last time this was required my anxiety got the better of me and while practicing the presentation my blood pressure spiked so high that I went into a full headache and nose bleed while practicing my first run through (I know that sounds crazy but it is true). The energy I need to get on stage and speak to a crowd is consuming of all my physical and mental energy. The insanity of this is that logically I know that I am prepared, capable, and encouraged to present. Why my body reacts with such stress is beyond me.

The question then dear reader is your life full of worry or anxiety? How much do the cares and troubles of this world paralyze your life? Hopefully we are all fortunate that worry is limited to practical and productive problem solving in a sin cursed world. While I do live an anxious life (at one time even writing this blog in front of the world would have been too much for me) I prayerfully live that life in submission to God’s desires for me. I serve him and if he wants me on a stage speaking before a crowd then I will summon courage not from myself but from Christ.

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Luke 12:22-25 ESV

The reality is that anxiety does not add to life but takes away hours and days. Jesus speaking to the disciples tells them not to be anxious in serving him. If they can learn to trust him and draw strength from him for the basics like food and clothing then the they can trust him with power that changes lives.

26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Luke 12:26 ESV

It is natural and normal to worry about practical issues that are right in front of you. But take to heart the words of Paul and submit your cares and anxiety to Christ. Bring him everything. Nothing is too small or too trivial for God provides even our daily bread.

6 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 ESV

Overwhelmed by the Crashing Waves

still

Have you ever been in a raging river or have you ever visited an ocean shore? The waves they don’t stop. The keep coming and crashing and falling. Over and over. The noise so loud that it all becomes overwhelming. Life can be that way. It keeps coming at you and it keeps crashing in. It keeps moving day in and day out. Sometimes I feel like I am standing in that water. The water keeps pushing me without end. It is pushing me so that I might lose my footing. It keeps pushing me under and I pray it does not rise too high or I might be swept away. I feel like can’t catch my breath. I can’t keep up.

Life and the world move so fast while I am being pushed around by these waves. Time never stops and the world keeps on moving. It can be overwhelming when there are people that depend on you when there are things that you want to do. Everyone faces the same reality of the crashing waves and the endless ticking of the clock. No one is immune to these pressures at some point in life.

Those waves did not take me under. I have found a peace in the middle of the crashing waves and the ticking of the clock. Life is hard and I never am able to keep up but peace has found me. Peace has saved me. The Creator of this life and the creator of time itself called to me and said “you are mine”. Does he call your name? Do you hear him calling?

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 ESV

Do you hear him calling you? Do you hear his voice? Can you hear him over the crashing waves and ticking clock of time? When I was 11 years old he called my name and he found me. I was lost but he found me. Do you hear him calling your name? In the rough and tumble of this world. When this world abuses me. When I abuse those around me. When I abuse myself. When the waves seek to overwhelm me that is the moment that I need to stop and realize I am one of his sheep and he has called me to follow him where he goes.

For some of you who know him and have a relationship with him that is the good news. For those of you who are running and consumed by the crushing waves now is the time. Now is the moment to submit to the only person, thing, or God who can save. He is the good shepherd.

Psalm 23 is the famous “lord is my shepherd” Chapter. The second verse is my favorite.

He leads me beside still waters. Psalm 23:2

He leads me. He loves me and he has brought me beside still and calm waters. I am at peace even if there is a raging ocean around me. Life is coming at me so fast but I can rest and sit down because he has saved me. Hear in my mind and hear in my heart he has given me peace. He has given me rest. Submit to his authority, submit to his calling you. Listen to his voice. Rest in Jesus the Lord and Shepherd. Listen for his voice. Cry out to him. He is able to rescue. Only he can save.

 

Afraid

What is your fear? Snakes, Public speaking, no food for today, stuck in rush hour traffic, persecution because of who you are? There always seems to be something to fear, much of those fears we push away into the back of our mind. Sometimes those fears force themselves into the present and must be dealt with. Why do we fear? Will we lose our life, possessions, or will the result of our fears cause pain of some kind? This life is temporary for everyone. Everyone will die. Is that what we fear the most?

A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.” Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.” 2 Samuel 15:13-14 ESV

King David has a real and immediate fear in 2 Samuel. One of his sons, Absalom, is making an attempt to take over the kingdom by force. The uprising is so effective that David needs to flee Jerusalem to avoid being killed. Can you imagine the fear in such a realization and being forced to run for your life knowing that if you are caught that death waits. Absalom was followed by leaders David trusted and many others betrayed David giving him up for death to make Absalom king. Imagine the anger and helplessness at such a betrayal. How do you respond to a fearful situation?

King David was a sinner just like everyone else, but he also was a man that turned to God in real and genuine ways. Large portions of the Psalms are attributed to him. Scholars believe that Psalm 55 was written by David at this time of betrayal and this Psalm is a great model for us on how to deal with hurts and fear that are a real part of life.

Be Honest with God and yourself about the fear and anxiety.

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. Psalm 55:4-5 ESV

God wants your life to be interlinked with His plans. Humbly ask Him for help and He will show mercy.

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:15-17 ESV

Trust God and what only He can do. Trust Him because as Creator of all things he is worthy of that trust.

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you. Psalm 55:22-23 ESV

Remember His faithfulness in the past. As we grow in our relationship with God, we will do well to remember His faithfulness in past troubles.

He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change—he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God. Psalms 55:18-19 ESV

God never promises to take away all pain or fear. Even King David a man that God loved still had troubles. This world is cursed because of our sins and as a result death and suffering are ever present. Yet God does promise that if we take refuge in Him he will be our help and sustaining grace.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Are you ready to shelter in God? Is he not big enough? Is he not strong enough? Is he not just enough? Is he not loving enough? Why then do we still struggle in our own strength trying to do our best that is never good enough? STOP and turn to Him. He has already done all the work preparing for the future when fear will no longer be an issue. Jesus has taken it all on Himself. Turn to Jesus and repent of your rebelliousness. Submit to Him and give him the authority that is due and justified. He will be your strength to face what lies ahead in life and death.