(Note: This is by far the single most read message I’ve written. Please ‘like’ the page and tag words from the cloud of words and read other messages that have been written that touch on the subject of anxiety, worry and depression, you will be blessed!)
I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks and have even been medicated for many years in the ‘90’s and I also have many friends and loved ones who suffer from this ailment today, so I thought we’d take a look at this disorder and then see what God teaches us about it in the Scriptures. It’s a mindset, and we’ll take a look at how this evolves in this message and see what God says about anxiety.
First, let’s look at the medical terminologies of anxiety taken from PubHealth.com.
- Generalized anxiety disorder – a pattern of frequent, constant worry; abnormal fear and anxiety.
Symptoms include – difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, restlessness – hey, sounds like me again, and I thought I got over that a long time ago! I must be going through it again too – problem is I don’t recognize myself as worrying about things so what’s up with that? Heehee
Matthew 6:34 – “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder – an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).
Obsessions or compulsions are not due to medical illness or drug use but are cause to major distress or interfere with everyday life.
Examples would be fear of germs and I’ve even seen fear of stepping on a crack and the one I suffered from is immaculately clean home. I would use a toothbrush to scrub the cracks in the corners on my floor and scan the cupboards for smudges and smears in the sunlight and the walls for cobwebs and dust. I’d vacuum the carpet in perfect lines and go back over it if I’d step on them before I could sit and enjoy the sculpture I created. All towels and clothes folded perfectly, placed perfectly and hung perfectly in their place. My grocery basket was organized by type and stacked and packed perfectly, I had many comments on that and I felt affirmed by that! A clue into ‘the why’ did I do that! There’s much more but you get the idea.
2 Corinthians 10:5 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
- Phobias – a strong irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Examples would be fear of heights, closed-in places, social situations, tunnels, escalators, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.
Symptoms would include panic and fear, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling, a strong desire to get away.
I experience this on occasion – fear of heights, closed-in places, social situations. I especially had a hard time in Washington DC going down a tremendously steep escalator in the Metro station. And amazingly enough, I went to see how steep this escalator was (230 feet long – no kidding! At a 30 degree angle and 196 feet deep) and I found there was a video on a mishap that happened there! Metro Escalator Malfunction – I guess my fear WAS rational! Heehee. Anyway, we were traveling down it and my fear at the time was being out of control and forced down into the abyss of hell! It was horrible!!!! My fears were manifesting in visions and I was light-headed, sweating, full of fear a despairing the entire ride! I praise God I had godly friends around me. Moving on….. J
Isaiah 43:5 – “Do not fear, for I am with you;” God repeats this throughout scripture, Old and New Testament.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – is a persistent and irrational fear of situations that may involve scrutiny or judgment by others, such as parties and other social events. Even CHURCH! (I added that!)
Symptoms include becoming overwhelmingly anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. There’s intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and doing things that will embarrass them. This can become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities and it can make it hard to make and keep friends.
1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
- Stress Disorder – related to both external and internal factors affecting an individual. External factors including the physical environment including your job, relationships with others, your home, and all the situations, challenges, difficulties, and expectations you’re confronted with on a daily basis. Internal factors are that which influence your ability to handle stress; it can be nutritional, overall health and fitness level, emotional well-being and the amount of sleep and rest you get.
Do you know there’s not one scripture on “stress”? That’s because stress is the internal and external responses to expectation that produce anxiety and worry!
It seems that these all have one common denominator and that is “expectation”. In one form or another we expect something from something. Here are some examples –
- Expecting acceptance from others out of our own performance
- Expecting affirmation from a job well done
- Expecting to meet our own expectation of ourselves
- Expecting the worst in our fears
- Expecting from others things that you expect from yourself
- Expecting a positive outcome and not accepting anything less
I’m sure you can think of more but overly produced expectation drives fear and fear drives anxiety and this is how anxiety disorders are developed because it builds upon itself.
Proverbs 10:27-28 The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. The hope of the righteous is gladness, But the expectation of the wicked perishes.
Whoa! Wait a minute! Fear prolongs life? Wicked? And perish? What? This is hard to read eh????
A good time to take a break and have a little bible study….
Let’s look at the Hebrew definition of these terms and see what Solomon was actually saying so we can lay down all defenses….
fear (of the Lord) in this verse is yir’ah in Hebrew and it means – respect, reverence and piety [reverence for God and devotion to divine worship].
Prolongs (yacaph) means to add, increase, do again (opposite of shortened in verse 27).
Righteous (tsad-dek) means justified and vindicated by God (in right standing with) and the comparing term would be wicked and in this verse it is the Hebrew word Rasha’ which means – those hostile to God (opposite of reverence to God)
Hope is being compared with expectation in this verse – hope produces gladness and expectation perishes.
Perish is (abad – ‘a-vad’) – meaning – be lost, strayed, die
If we change up that verse using the Hebrew definitions it looks like this….
The respect and reverence of the LORD increases life, But the years of those hostile to God will be shortened. The hope of those in right standing, justified and vindicated by God is gladness, But the expectation of those hostile to God are lost, strayed, die.
Sounds different doesn’t it? The bottom line after proper interpretation is those that live with expectation in hostility towards God are lost and suffer the consequences of separation from God but the hope of those in right standing with God will have gladness. Expectation makes the heart sick friends. Anxiety causes all kinds of health problems and God is trying to get us to see that in this verse.
Okay back to the message…..
There are practical treatments for anxiety and that would be anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications – as you know may know, I was on them for over 7 years. I have a lot of knowledge about that but also counseling and change of lifestyle is warranted. For me, nothing proved to be the ultimate and final solution to end my dilemma with anxiety and depression.
Therefore, my favored solution is God’s love and presence in my life! So let’s change gears and look at this from a more biblical perspective. We’ve applied some verses, but let’s talk about where expectation and fear is rooted out of to manifest anxiety shall we?
Expectation is what you’ve pre-determined to be the probability of something; it’s what you’ve come to believe to be the result of something. It’s also the hope one has for something and anticipation and excitement one has for something.
So there’s a positive way of expectation that produces contentment and joy, and a negative expectation that produces discontentment, anxiety and fear. It gets really complicated when you’re having expectation of what to expect from others! Wrap your head around that!
A person suffering from anxiety and fear have a belief system (we’ve talked about that a lot in other messages). In this message, we can add a belief system made up of expectations of doubt, lacking and ‘falling short’. This produces negativity, self-condemnation and low self-esteem… in sets perpetual anxiety.
By the way, a person that is self-condemning is a person that feels condemned by others too so what wonder is it that we feel condemned so often in the church; especially people that are contemplating on even going? It’s “Expectations!”
Romans 8:1 – Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Contrary to popular belief, when you fear or feel condemnation from the church but at the same time there are feelings of guilt and shame, it’s more often that you are condemning yourself rather than others condemning you from the church.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of church goers that do judge (in error) and condemn with contempt of behavior and attitude but too, the majority of all peoples don’t understand judgment and condemnation either. That’s a whole other message – you can look in the archives on that one. But the point is condemnation is a fuel for anxiety because expectation of acceptance is not being met.
Another area that fuels anxiety is our identity is threatened. If we rest who we are in the acceptance and approval of others, our identity is wrapped up in conditional expectations. What a mess!
Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
And finally, the fear of rejection and (ultimately) abandonment plays a role too. If you’re whole worth is wrapped up in your career and you fail, there is fear of rejection coming from all directions; relationally, socially and internally. Your belief system is in question, your self-worth is in question, your future is in question, and that’s a lot of expectation to keep up a life-time of work in building an identity that depends on others.
When I say your belief system is in question, you may be asking what I mean by that. You’ve created a belief system based on prior expectations fulfilled, either good or bad. So if you have an expectation about something and question its outcome, you’ll have anxiety about the matter, hence your belief system is now in question. You put stock in and gamble with your belief system every day and it’s challenged – that brings a lot of anxiety.
So in conclusion, what has God said about all this?
He CARES for you! He is looking out for your best interest teaching about anxiety and worry.
1 Peter 5:6-8 – 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Luke 12:25 – And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?
Luke 12:26 – If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?
There are so many more passages but I think you get the idea that by worrying we’re taking away from the quality of our lives.
What’s more, if you are a Christian, your identity is “in” Christ, not in who you think about who you are.
1 Corinthians 15:22 – For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
Romans 8:10 – If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
Romans 6:11 – Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Just knowing you are loved and accepted into the Kingdom of God with the promise of eternal life is an anxiety buster I assure you.
You are accepted, loved, approved of, encouraged, created for purpose and that deals with a lot of anxiety builders.
1 John 2.25 – 25 This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.
I would like to pray with you right now…..
Lord, I thank you for the call upon our hearts, that we can cast all our cares upon you; help us with the ability to trust in You more and seek your wisdom in things. Father I pray a peace where there is anxiety and trust where there is fear. Lord I know your word says that your perfect love drives out fear so I pray that you touch us with your love allowing us to feel your joy. I pray for a deepened desire for your knowledge and relationship with you. Lord I ask that you guide our path in our day and lead us to the peace in your righteousness. It’s an honor, privilege and pleasure to serve you Jesus, in your Holy Name. Amen.
(Note: Again, please tag the word anxiety and read other messages that have been written that touch on the subject of anxiety, worry and depression, you will be blessed!)
If you haven’t given your life over to the care and control of Jesus Christ, what’s holding you back? If you want to talk about it, please contact me. If you’re ready to do that, recite the Prayer of Salvation to begin your journey of relationship with Jesus. I pray that you accept your gift of salvation now to begin your road to healing.
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