“Do not worry about anything.” – Phil 4:6
Someone once told me that “real writers write about what they know.” This morning, all I know is my anxiety. I’m anxious. I feel like I’ve got a whole lot to do and a whole lot to accomplish and that I’m running out of the time, energy, and cleverness I need to get it all done. You may feel anxious like me from time to time. If you don’t I’d like to congratulate you - you’ve either reached enlightenment or else you’re a robot.
For the homo sapiens still reading, I’d like to tackle the question of “why?” Why do we get anxious? The simple answer is that we don’t have faith. I don’t say this in a pejorative way. I’m just trying to come to terms with our broken and redeemed existence as we experience it here and now. We’re not always faith-full. We’re like Jesus’ first disciples – people of “little faith” (Matt 6:30).
After all, Jesus tells his disciples (we’re still on the mountain by the way) “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt 6:8). This is why Jesus says “do not worry about your life” (Matt 6:25). But we go and do just the opposite. There is no end to how much we worry about our life (not to mention other people’s lives). You and I are little, breathing, faithless balls of anxiety. Plain and simple.
I think half the battle is admitting that we have a problem, i.e., coming to terms with the real unbelief that exists in us. In my opinion, the most courageous prayer in scripture is found in Mark’s Gospel: “Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief” (Mk 9:24). We should pray this prayer 163 times a day.
But admitting our problem is only half the battle. The other half is repentance – a word that literally means “to turn back.” When our anxiety reaches its peak, we need to turn back to God, to seek his Fatherly love and care. If you’re an anxious person, the worst thing you can do is to be around anxious people. Anxiety begets anxiety. You need what our social scientists like to call a “non-anxious” presence. And isn’t this who God is? Do Christians not worship the Non-Anxious Presence? After all, God isn’t anxious. And there’s something about spending time in the Presence that diffuses our anxiety. In God’s presence, we remember that God knows our every need. We remember that we don’t know our every need (we know our every “want”). We remember that God is good; that God is in control; that God is both Creator and Redeemer; that we are not; that every hair on our head is numbered; that our anxiety is a mere symptom of a greater problem; and most importantly, we remember that “our greater problem” has been nailed to a cross.
FOR TODAY: Look at your anxiety from a “spiritual” perspective. Don’t try to lower your own anxiety. You can’t. And your failure will just make you more anxious. Instead, sit still and be found by the Non-Anxious Presence. And remember: you’re loved beyond anything you could ever ask or imagine.