Everybody deals with anxiety on some level. It’s part of our fallen human nature, and we have an enemy that’s constantly whispering the worst case scenario in our ears.
Some of us also experience anxiety as a medical condition. In these cases, anxiety is more frequent and aggressive, disrupting our daily lives.
Doctors and medicines can help reduce the worst symptoms. And thank God for that, because we need all the help we can get.
But they can’t change the human condition. Only God’s Word can do that.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Wow. That sounds impossible. Is God telling me to just snap my fingers and get over it?
No. He’s saying that His Will is for me to not be anxious about anything. And because He knows that’s impossible for me to do on my own, He finishes the sentence by telling me how to accomplish His Will.
I take my requests – my worries – to God in prayer.
I Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Apparently, I can do this because I know that He cares for me. If I trust that God loves me and wants to take care of me, then I can take everything I’m worrying about to Him in prayer and leave it at His feet.
But what if I still feel anxious when I finish praying? What if I stop worrying today, but then tomorrow my mind cranks right back up into more worry?
I need to deal with the source of the worry, and all worry is fear-based. When I worry, it’s because I’m afraid that bad things will happen.
So, how do I deal with fear?
I John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
The word translated “perfect” has the sense of “practice makes perfect.” It’s love that has been developed and matured.
How do I get this perfected love to grow inside me and drive out the fear?
I John 4:12
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
The word translated “complete” here is a variation of the same word translated “perfect” in verse 18. So, if I want God’s love to be made complete in me – perfected, matured – then I need to love others. And if I do that, then as His love becomes more mature in me, it casts out more and more fear.
God is telling me that the way to push fear out of my mind is not to fight the fear, but to grow the love.
Loving others can be hard, so we have to lean on God to be able to do it. Leaning on God builds our trust in Him, which helps alleviate fear and worry.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Loving others forces me to focus my thoughts on another person, and stop thinking so much about myself and my own situation.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Loving others brings me into the center of God’s Will. He commanded us to love our neighbor, so when we do, we are walking in obedience to Him.
John 13:34, 14:15
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” … “If you love me, keep my commands.”
More love = less fear. Less fear = less worry. Less worry = less anxiety.
How has loving others changed your experience with anxiety?
Photo credit: DariuszSankowski