2001-04-02 - National Anxiety Month
Jeremiah 49:23, "… There is anxiety by the sea, it cannot be calmed."
You may not know it, but April is National Anxiety Month. I'm not exactly sure if that means that in April it is acceptable to be anxious or if it means that more people are anxious in April than in other months. It really doesn't matter, I suppose. It is true that a lot of Christians suffer from anxiety. But it need not be this way with the child of God. We, of all people, have reasons to be free from the awful realities that can come with anxiety.
There are natural forms of anxiety that even animals experience. This causes them and us to avoid those things that cause fear or might be harmful. These fears can be real or imagined. There is also a form of anxiety that is part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This causes us to fear those things that are sinful and contrary to the will of God. "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.
There is, in Scripture, one example of the fear of punishment because of the guilt of sin. Felix was convicted of his sin when having a conversation with the apostle Paul. "And as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, 'Go away for the present, and when I find time, I will summon you." Acts 24:25 And while there is not recorded in Scripture any repentance of Felix, there is recorded in Acts 16:29-31 the repentance of the jailer of Paul and Silas because he was "trembling with fear."
There are other types of anxiety in the Bible as I am sure you know. However, I think that these types of anxiety are often not what we experience on a daily basis. Often we experience anxiety because of strained relationships, job related issues, health concerns, or any number of issues. This is natural but the Bible clearly gives us another alternative which is free from the prison we create for ourselves with anxiety. The apostle Paul could have felt this way after being shipwrecked in Acts 27, but Paul gained courage from the Lord and was able to encourage the others with him, Acts 27:22-25.
Also, there is for us the example of Caleb and Joshua when they and others were sent out to spy on the promised land. The majority came back and thought they would be unable to take the land for various reasons, but Caleb spoke otherwise. "The Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, 'We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.'" Numbers 13:30 But the majority won out and the Israelites wound up squeezing sand between their toes for forty years wandering around in the desert.
Scripture is full of examples of those in difficult circumstances and where anxiety would seem a natural response, and yet, men and women overcame by their faith. This should give us encouragement to seek to do the same. Everyone is anxious about something, but the Lord knows our fears and He is bigger than all the issues in our lives. He has a track record in His Holy Word of being with those who experience anxiety and we can take comfort in the fact that He is the same God today as He was when the Bible was being written. He is loving and cares for His children and therefore we can take our anxious fears and lay them at the foot of the cross.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31
Soli Deo Gloria,