A few weeks ago I spoke about worry and control. Several
commented that it was relevant and needed. One of our
members, John Lakvold is a credentialed people helper and was
very positive about the topic, and offered to write a researched
explanation (and a biblical) for the problem this is in our time.
Good stuff John! I hope it is helpful for everyone who struggles or
knows someone who struggles with worry and anxiety. (P.S. I am
still on a fishin’ expedition in central Washington. See you all
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the
United States (Anxiety and Depression Association, 2014). These
disorders touch the lives of 40 million adults in the United States,
approximately 18% of U.S. population (National Institutes of
Mental Health, n.d.). Even though anxiety disorders are highly
treatable, only about one-third of those suffering anxiety will
receive treatment (Anxiety and Depression Association, 2014).
According to WebMD (2008), Americans spend 42 billion dollars
annually on anxiety disorders. Roughly 23 billion dollars is spent to
treat anxiety symptoms that imitate physical illnesses (WebMD).
Anxiety is the natural response of the body to potential danger,
threats of harm, feeling stress situations, or being under pressure
(Helpguide.org, 2014). A healthy amount of anxiety allows us to be
attentive, provokes us to take action, and motivates us to solve
problems in our lives (Helpguide.org). Unhealthy amounts of
anxiety cause physical and emotional symptoms (Helpguide.org).
Emotional symptoms include constant worrying or uneasiness,
feeling of dread without any known cause, inability to concentrate,
internal tension, catastrophic thinking, irritability, restlessness,
hyper-awareness toward danger, forgetfulness, overwhelming and
swift feelings of panic or doom, fears of losing control or going
crazy, and detaching from others and from reality (Calm Clinic,
n.d.). Physical symptoms include increased heartbeat, choking,
frequent sweating, stomach cramping, lightheadedness, diarrhea,
shortness of breath, rapid breathing, changes in body
temperature, muscle tension, headaches, shaking, exhaustion,
restlessness, and nausea (Calm Clinic).
According to Hart (2003), the only type of anxiety that God
condemns is perceptual “worry anxiety” (p. 15). As Christians, we
are torn between two worlds (Matthew 6:24). On one hand, we
struggle to make ends to meet. On the other hand, God tells his
people that he will provide their every need (Jeremiah 31:35; Mark
13:30-31). For this reason, Jesus tells us, “That is why I tell you
not to worry about everyday life . . . Today’s trouble is enough
for today.” (Matthew 6:25, NLT, emphasis added). Thus, the
apostle Peter tells us to “give all our worries to God, because he
cares about you” (I Peter 5:7, NCV). Otherwise, the worries of this
world can choke out the Word of God implanted within us
(Matthew 13:22, NASB). When the Word of God is choked out of
us, we become enmeshed in “affairs of this life” (II Timothy 2:4,
NKJV, emphasis in the original). Being enmeshed in the “affairs of
this life” hinder our souls and dulls our attention toward pleasing
Christ (Luke 21:34-36, NLT).
Being concerned about our own lives, having a sleepless night
worrying about a love one, or feeling some anxiety is not
unforgivable sin (Hart, 2003). Hart points out that the problem with
worry is constantly ruminating on it. To resolve our perpetual
worrying, the apostle Paul reminds us to “pray and ask God for
everything you need, always giving thanks” (Philippians 4:6,
NCV). When we petition God, “God’s peace, which is so great we
cannot understand it, will keep [our] hearts and minds in Christ
Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NCV). When we face religious
persecution, the Holy Spirit will guide our words (Mark 13:11).
God will provide our every provision (Luke 12: 22-30). Relying on
God will leave us unshaken (Psalm 55:22).