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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Does Anxiety Run Your Life?

Are you one who worries all the time? Do you worry about your children, your health, your grades, your spouse, your finances, your house, etc.? Does it sometimes keep you up at night or give you a sick feeling in your stomach? Have these anxieties been growing over time?

Let's get something very straight: God does not desire anxiety for anyone. He stands as one who will remove those anxieties. Let's look at some scriptures which address the problem.

Anxiety is a love problem.

1 John 4:18 (ESV) 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Maybe you do not trust God's love. Maybe you have not dwelt in His love but the fact remains that God has loved you with an everlasting love. He will watch over you. He will not allow anything to come into your live that you can He can't handle together. He does so because He loves you. Your love toward Him reveals that your relationship is one of trust. It reveals that you know that He has loved you first and that there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more or less because His love is without merit.

Anxiety is a "not your problem" problem.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV) 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

For some reason people believe they can handle their problems better than God can handle them. Maybe there is a sense of pride which keeps them from giving their anxieties to God. They hold onto these problems like little children who claim, "I can do it myself!"

Is that you? Are you holding onto something that you really can't do? Are you trying to find a solution apart from casting your anxieties on Him? Are you afraid of what God may ask of you if you "cast" your anxieties? Would you rather live with the anxieties you know rather than having faith that God will do what is best without your knowledge? Are you afraid of giving up control of your anxieties by releasing them to God?

Turn them over to God and you will find yourself released from these problems.

Anxiety is a prayer problem.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Everything that you are fretting over must be prayed for. This is both with an attitude of prayer that knows God's love, wisdom, and power for anything that has come in your life and specific requests that God will act to relieve you of your anxieties. This is the best way of unburdening yourself of these anxieties. After all, did the worry make things better? Isn't it better to turn them over to God? He won't worry a moment about your anxieties. He already has a plan and will enact it.

A wonderful thing happens when you love on God and cast your anxieties on Him by taking them to Him in prayer. The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guards your heart and mind. Then, you may not remember why you were so anxious anyway.


Anthony Chia said...

Come to think about it, anxiety is one of the most common and biggest problems we have, even as a believer. How can we win over this problem? What gives rise to anxiety?

I realize that even I do NOT have complete victory over this malaise. When do we get anxious? We get anxious when:
1. There is uncertainty
2. We have to wait
3. We are ill-able to cope
4. We become “addicted” to it
5. We are too “free”

There will always be uncertainty in life, sometimes more and some times less, and different degrees (as felt) for different people. We do NOT know what tomorrow will hold for us, individually; for that matter, we do NOT even know what will happen in the next couple of hours. Last Sunday morning I was in church, worshiping and so on, by late afternoon, I landed up with a National Park notice of offence, for fishing in a disallowed area (of the shoreline, part of the sea). Bible tells us NOT to worry, and it got to be concerning all things and at all times, NOT for something or some of the times.

What is worry? Is it just an unproductive preoccupation of our mind over a matter? It is, but it is more than that; it is NOT confined to unproductive preoccupation solely. It covers relentless insistence of a matter be “settled” according to our expectation, right away, when we are NOT even in control.

For example, as in the above scenario, I was issued with a notice of offence, but the notice did NOT indicate what the exact fine involved was; the maximum is $5,000.00! Of course, I asked for leniency from the patrolling officer, but he was neither willing nor would able to say what the fine amount was, NOT even an indication; apparently, the people back in the office shall decide. I was told it would take up to 2 weeks before I would receive a notice of the fine amount, through post. The uncertainty meanwhile is unsettling, potentially a $5,000.00 fine! Can it be $500.00? Or $200.00? Or a warning instead, please? For some people, $5000.00 is no big deal, but for me, even $500.00 is. When we can ill-afford it, we will have to cope with it, and we feel anxious about whether or NOT we will make it through, or how we had just wasted on resources, such as money and time. I know it is my fault, to have encroached into an area where fishing was NOT allowed; still it is painful and worrisome to consider the possibility of being slapped with a hefty fine. I must admit I allowed the matter to spin in my mind for quite some time: What can I do? Oh! It is “killing” what is the “damage”? Is there something I can do, and get it out of the way? So, I went on thinking hard at what I could do about the matter. Maybe, there was nothing I could do; maybe there could be something I could do, apart from calling someone to tell how sad I was, and to pray to God, for grace.

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Anthony Chia said...

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Of course, it is a good thing to actually talk to somebody about what is worrying/troubling you. I recommend you do that, but please do NOT try to rope another into your wallowing, to share in your worrying. Brothers and sisters bear each other up, but they are NOT to be your co-partner in worrying. Unless, the other party is also a “worrying-type” (and please, avoid, pouring your worry onto another worrying-type), he is normally able to function quite detached. He can provide the listening ears which we need, but he might NOT take it too kindly with your persistent going over and over the same worry, with him, so don’t do that. Please do NOT expect people to worry with you.

Some, over-zealous for God, will insist you talk only with God, and NOT with a man; I do NOT necessarily think everyone and every matter should be handled in that manner – no talking to man, only with God. As we mature, perhaps, we feel less need of talking with a man, and more, to God; even then, at times, it is good to hear the encouraging voice of another man; and God recognizes that, and so, there is such exhortation in Scripture as to gathering with brothers and sisters, to bear one another up, and to encourage one another. Furthermore, God does act through people; but please, you also don’t need to tell the whole world. That is the way of the world, “cast far and wide enough, and you will catch some fish”, but that is NOT the way of the Lord. If you remember, Scripture had this story of Jesus’ disciples casting their nets here and there, the whole night through, but caught nothing, but the Lord instructed them one cast, and they had fish so much, they could NOT manage themselves!

Is there anything wrong about “cracking” our head to find a solution for the matter that is troubling us? The pertinent question is how many rounds you are spinning the matter in your head. Prima facie, it is NOT unproductive pre-occupation; at times a solution can emerge from our “mauling” the predicament. There is no hard and fast rule; it is alright to try to fish for a fish, instead of, at the drop of a hat, ask the neighbor, “Can I have one of your fish?” But, if you have tried enough (of course, enough is so subjective, and so, you just have to ask yourself if it is enough already), and you cannot get a fish, don’t keep insisting on wanting to eat a fish that is caught by yourself, and NOT want a fish coming from your neighbor or God.

Of course, since God is our partner, we are to consult Him first (I must remember that, too), before we go about talking to men, and turn on our thinking cap, and go about doing this and doing that; it is allowing God room to input into the resolution required.

If you have some understanding of God, if He gives, we take. When God gives, we take; we do NOT need to be “courteous” with God; just take it, He has inexhaustible resources. And so, for many, humility before God is NOT the problem (but some it is, and that is why there is 1 Pet 5:6-7); it is NOT we are NOT humble enough to take what God gives, but it is different matter when it comes to humility before men. Too many of us, do NOT want our weaknesses to show before others, or that we are NOT manly/good enough to be able to handle/fix our own problems. Self-pride will stand in the way of getting rid of your anxiety. Of course, the other issue is that we may have to wait for God to act, and we have NOT developed longsuffering enough, to wait for God! We ended up just doing without waiting for God.

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Anthony Chia said...

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Why do I encourage people to fish, and NOT, at the drop of a hat, ask the neighbor, “Can I have one of your fish?” The simple reason is that we can get “addicted” to it! Contrary to popular overly grace teachings, Scripture does NOT teach believers to just bask in grace, and NOT wanting to do anything. This applies to both receiving from men, and from God. God does NOT encourage degeneration into uselessness or in a permanent state of just receiving. God does NOT encourage a lifestyle of begging either; we can ask for help and favor, but if you turn it into a lifestyle of begging, it is wrong. It is fine to ask for help and favor, but we must be clear that we must NOT make it a habit, rather we acknowledge we are in need of help and favor at particular moments, but we will get over it, and move on to be able to show others the same help and compassion we received, if NOT more; it is part of, and is how, we spur or bless one another. We are all to grow, at our different paces, but we are to grow.

It is the same when it comes to help and favor from God; He gives it NOT to encourage you to be addicted to a lifestyle of begging. He grants us favor and help because He loves us; because He wants to direct us; because He is molding us, and before we are exasperated, He steps in to encourage us on; because He wants us to be blessed so that we, in turn, are able to bless others; last but NOT least, he grants us favor and help because we are acting in faith, and in serving Him.

Like anger, do NOT let your upset go down with the sun; let it go, no big deal, losing some here, and losing some there, missing out some here, and some there, even when your longer term plans are being affected! Be like God, tune and tweak real-time, as you go along; just remember keep the big ticket items in focus. These 2, we, believers must have, as the biggest ticket items: we are just passing through, naked we come, naked we go; and our end-goal is to get to Heaven to be with our God. What about my family, my relations and loved ones? Well, you can only do so much; of course, you are to petition to God for them, but the rest is up to them and God.

Have you heard the saying, “No time to worry!” The problem with some of the people with chronic worrying posture is that they are too free to worry! They do NOT keep themselves occupied with meaningful work, and so they have so much time on hand to worry. And before long, they would even crave for time for worrying! And when they are in that craving, they would NOT want to do other things. This is a vicious cycle, both worrying and non-preoccupation feed on each other, and if we are NOT careful, we will have two giant malaises on hand –the worrying giant only wants to worry, and the non-preoccupation giant just does NOT want to do any meaningful work. They will feed on each other and on you, and you can get into depression. Depression, when you stay there long enough, you will get so used to it, in the hole, you will NOT have the strength to pull yourself up from the pit; and that is a sad state.

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Anthony Chia said...

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Anxiety, worry, fear and insecurity, they are related. When we cannot see anyone out there loving us enough to come to our rescue, these things tend to creep in. So, Ps Prentis is also correct, that foremost, to completely plug the hole, we need to be firmly established in knowing that Almighty God loves us, and so, He will watch over us, with His ‘ahab love (love unto righteousness). Perfect love of God casts out fear; no fear in the love of God (1 John 4:18), but we have to be “in it”. The atmosphere on the mount is cool, but if you are at the foot of the mount, you are NOT in it; to you it is NOT cooling, but in reality the air is cooling on the mount. It is like that with the love of God; God loves you, but you are NOT “in it”, and so you do NOT “get the love”, and so, all these anxiety, worry, fear and insecurity are less than completely absent from your life. You need to get higher up the mount, and it get better, if you get what I mean. Of course, by God’s love, it is NOT God letting you do whatever you want or be sitting there doing nothing, but just basking in grace, and NOT have to face consequences. Contrary to that, God allows for free-will, and learning, so that you may grow, and be refined purer than silver or gold.

If God loves me, why must I still pray and make supplications? To get rid of anxiety, you have to pray and make supplications (with thanksgiving); that is what was said in Phil 4:6-7. But why? Have you heard of “out of sight, out of mind”; well it is something like that – if God autos everything for you, you will soon forget about God, and take Him for granted. Imagine what will happen if you were to auto everything for your child, including everything he is to do himself, or learn! He will just NOT develop, including developing to be responsible; and that is one reason. The other is, that is interaction with God. How else does one interact with God? If you do NOT pray at all, you are NOT interacting with God; everything becomes “It’s all God’s part, no man’s part”. Sound familiar? Yes, that is what some overly grace preachers are teaching, “It is all God doing His things, nothing on our part to do!” How can there be a love relationship without interactions? How can you grow deeper in love with God without interactions? Even if you are too lazy to move up the mount, still you should at least petition for the cool air to be forced down to you at the foot of the mount, than to just assume the cool air is auto-forced down to you to keep you cool!

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Anthony Chia said...

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How does the peace of God, in verse 7 of Phil 4, come? I remember the first time I went to school (Primary One). On my first day, my father brought me to school, left me in the classroom, after telling me (and showing me to the school bus uncle whom he had just arranged with) the school bus uncle would come to fetch me home when the school was over; and you know what, that uncle forgot about me. The poor me was left alone, all the kids had gone back home, even the teachers had gone somewhere; it was only after more than 2 hours before a teacher came back, and I told the teacher about the school bus uncle. I was brought to the principal office, and the teacher had wanted to call my father. Before she could do that, the school bus uncle appeared, and told the teacher he had forgotten, and in a hurry he drove me home. Was I anxious? Was I fearful? You bet I was! Was I having peace? Of course NOT. But the next day, the bus uncle was punctual, and he faithfully fetched me to and fro school. And the days that followed, it was the same; I was no longer anxious or fearful. Why? Because time and time again, the bus uncle showed up. It is like that with the peace of God, as least a common dimension of it; our repeated “being in the love of God”, is what beckon the peace of God into our heart. Our knowledge of the truth that God loves us, and our moving ourselves into it, and thereby experiencing the love of God, are what draw the peace of God into our heart.

Can we just have truth or experience? Must it be both? Truth, per se, lacks relevance to you until you are involved. Experience, per se, is too subjective! Each on its own has not much efficacy. Truth with experience or applied truth is what set us free! Yes, the Bible said that the truth shall set you free (John 8:32), but truth apart from you, though operative, is NOT operative for you. So, you do need to apply the truths in Scripture into your life; and the same can be said of faith, faith has to be applied, you just cannot say, “I believe and I believe”, but would NOT act on your belief.

Today, APPLY the truths of the Bible into your life, ACT in faith, and see anxiety runs from your life.