The pain in your stomach is probably something serious. You will probably lose your job soon because your boss hates you. You think you have seen the signs that your spouse may be cheating on you. You even suspect your child might be experimenting with drugs.
Within all of these situations, it is certainly normal to feel anxious. Anxiety, better know as worry, is an emotional response to a situation we perceive to be bad.
You will notice a theme with all of these “problems” – they relate to an uncertainty about the future and a loss of control in your life. Unfortunately for far too many people, constant worry is a way of life. If your raising your hand right now, and many people are, please let me remind you of Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount:
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? (Matt. 6:25-26)
Go ahead, I know what you are going to say next, or at least what you are thinking, “Those are great words but I cannot help myself from feeling anxious.” My response to you is, “Yes you can!”
Worry is not an inherent trait that is ingrained into our nature or personality. Anxiety is actually a choice! You choose it by the way you react to what happens, or doesn’t happen, around you. You CHOOSE what you will think about (2 Corinthians 10:5) and YOU DECIDE how you are going to respond to a thought or situation. God gave you free will and the ability to choose your responses. If your a worrier, you consistently CHOOSE to worry.
Believe it or not, no situation will automatically cause you to have long-term anxiety. God created you in His image and for a distinct purpose, and I promise you that purpose was not to sit around and worry about things that 9 times out of 10 never even end up happening! Sometimes The Lord may allow a trial in your life, but this is always to helkp you grow in your faith on Him, grow spiritually, or get you to stop doing something that is hurting you. His purpose is NEVER to make you feel anxious or worry. God is always at work to bring you to a place where you will increasingly trust and obey Him and receive more of His blessings.
Concern Instead of Anxiety
We should never confuse concern with anxiety. We as Christians are called to care for others before ourselves. We are to be concerned about our families, our bodies, and our brothers and sister in Christ.
Furthermore, we are to be concerned about our responsibilities. We are to be reading the Bible daily, talking with God daily, living moral lives, caring for our families needs, etc.
And what if you were to lose your job? You’d naturally—and justifiably—be somewhat preoccupied with how to find a new one so you could provide for your family. A concern rooted in caring or obedience is not the same as anxiety. But to fall apart emotionally, become paralyzed with fear, or allow thoughts of bankruptcy, homelessness, and a bleak future to overtake your mind—absolutely not! That’s anxiety.
Concern is positive: it is forward-looking and constructive. Anxiety is the opposite—it is counterproductive, stuck in the past, and negative. In other words, concern motivates us to take action; anxiety paralyzes us.
Concern might include tears, empathy, sorrow, or quiet time with God. Concern will lead us to make decisions such as, “I choose to trust in God in this issue. God has promised to care for me. he has in the past, and He will in this case too!”
Anxiety leads to uncontrollable crying, racing thoughts, panic attacks, sleeplessness, and overall poor physical and mental health. Worry is a treadmill – you run and run and run but get no closer to a real conclusion to the issue.
The Choice is Yours – Please Choose Wisely
Trials and bad things are going to happen in life. They happen to everyone. It is totally normal to at first react emotionally, but God does not want you there long. Instead of jumping on the worry treadmill, why not get on your knees and pray, “God, this issue/problem/trial is quite a bit larger than me and it has me upset. So I am laying this problem right at your capable and omnipotent feet. In this, I am helpless but You have the power to change everything. You said You would never leave me nor forsake me and that You love me perfectly. I know you will show me how You want me to respond and when You do, I will obey You. I look forward to seeing how You will resolve this Father.”
Stop the treadmill! Get on the God-mill!! Give your worry to God – He can handle it, you cannot!
Pastor Brad Komgenick