The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6 vs. 25-34 (New International Version)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Jesus did not mince words when it comes to worrying about the things of this life. In fact, he told his listeners in verse 30, “you of little faith!”
I am a Christian and was saved early in my life. I battle anxiety! When prayerfully asking the Lord for a topic to write, he impressed upon my heart that I should talk about an area that has been an ongoing spiritual battle.
There was a time in my life when I worked a full-time job, a part-time business, enrolled in graduate school doing course work, and taking care of my infant son and daughter in the evenings while my wife worked.
My days would often run from 6 am – 1 am as my young daughter would make herself stay up until mommy got home.
I began having panic attacks due to the stress and anxiety of dealing with all these tasks. My panic attacks became so severe I could barely eat in a restaurant or around people. For a number of years I couldn’t comfortably eat out or even at the dinner table. I would hyperventilate and experience tightening in the chest and shortness of breath. I would often feel as if fluid was continually running down my throat causing me to swallow before I was ready. On more than one occasion I was taken by ambulance to the E.R.
It was during this time that I began taking prescription drugs like Zoloft to help me cope. I started out taking 50 milligrams and later increased it to 100 milligrams. During those years I was also not content. I desired to (what I thought at the time was a noble cause) make enough money so my wife could be a stay at home mommy, buy more things and have more time freedom. I wanted to increase my net worth so that I could have some of the finer things this world offered.
Through the early part of adulthood I tried multiple business ventures. Some of them made a little income but not enough to support our lifestyle. My poor decision making caused us to get into deep debt for which we are still digging ourselves out of today. My credit was trashed and bill collectors became my best friend (ha,ha) and would call me every day adding to my anxiety.
All of this created real anxiety that manifested itself in physical ways.
I cannot say enough about my godly wife and her forgiveness and faithfulness. She could have given up on me years ago, but her love for me has remained constant. As Jesus forgave her faults, she forgave mine. I love her and cherish her so much. To date, we have been married (by God’s grace) for more than 21 years.
Now, before I bring up more past wounds, let me add that God has since helped me overcome the severe panic attacks I used to have. I no longer have panic attacks. I am also off Zoloft and take no prescription drugs.
I testify to the fact that anxiety is real and it is rampant in the Church. But, through God it can be overcome. I am proof of this.
Looking back, while I was discontented and faithless, Jesus still remained faithful to me. This is because I belong to him and was purchased at a high price. (2 Timothy 2 vs. 13; 1 Corinthians 6 vs. 20)
I would read Matthew 6 over and over. I did not believe (even though Jesus said it) that I could have that type of faith. Even today, I have my down days. I am simply too human!!
I am often reminded of the following verse: Philippians 1 vs. 6, “He who began a good work in you will finish it.” Jesus is not finished with me. Amen!
How does a Christian live without anxiety? Let me say that I do not believe taking a prescription drug is bad. God inspired people to make these drugs. If you need them, take them. Just do not abuse them.
A Christian battling anxiety should continually pray for healing and trust God as the source of strength for each day. It is in our weaknesses that we experience the full power of God.
Jesus said in John 15 vs. 5, “I am the vine you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Anxiety can be hereditary. Anxiety can be a spiritual attack from the enemy. Anxiety can also come through sin in our lives or poor decision making. My first step toward overcoming anxiety was to finally accept my poor choices and decision making as the cause for much of it. I accepted responsibility for my actions and confessed this sin. Upon doing this God removed my guilt and gave me his peace.
It is so important for Christians to understand that God does not make us worry. God is not responsible for our anxiety. In fact, not only did Jesus say to not worry, but God inspired the writer of Philippians to say in chapter 4 vs. 6-7, “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
God gives us his peace when we diligently seek him and rest in him! As we are given his peace, there is no room for anxiety.
The answer to dealing with anxiety in our lives is to ask God for his help, rest in his promises and remove all triggers in our lives that may be causing us anxiety.
For example, I do not sleep well. Often I find that a tired mind does not perform well throughout the day. When I am exhausted I tend to lash out at my children or others. I may say things I regret, causing me great guilt and the need for repentance later. I may spend money I don’t have, eat unhealthy, quit exercising, quit praying, or quit reading God’s word. Do you think that sleep is a trigger?? It is!
To combat this, I may need to turn off the TV earlier, watch the caffeine intake, and turn off all distractions so I get a better sleep.
When I am rested, I find that I am more patient with people and the quality of my work and time I spend with God is better. I also find I sin less.
As John 15 clearly says, Jesus is the answer for Christian anxiety. We must continually abide in him through prayer and God’s word.
Knowing who we are in Jesus is also critical to overcoming anxiety. The enemy comes to steal and destroy. Satan and his demons will do everything to destroy a Christians witness and joy. The following are just a few scriptural facts about the Christian. Rest in these promises from God’s word:
1 Peter 2 vs. 9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. “
Romans 6 vs. 6: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,”
1 Corinthians 12 vs. 27: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 John 3 vs. 1-2: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Romans 8 vs. 28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
1 Peter 5 vs. 7: “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”
Dear reader, we are loved greatly by God. He cares for us! (1 Peter 5 vs. 7). Focus on his promises, and trust him with your whole life. Even your mistakes and failures must be turned over to God who offers mercy and grace. He died for you and desires you above all else. Come to him just as you are.
My prayer is that you will overcome anxiety through the power of God. The first start is confessing your need for a savior (Jesus Christ) and placing your faith in him. If you hear the voice of God speaking to your heart today and calling you, do not harden your heart. Confess your sinfulness to him and ask him to save you. He will!
My story is not so uncommon for many Christians. Anxiety is a real problem but can be overcome through Jesus.
God bless you!