It seems that the older I get the more I have to worry about. With age comes this creeping anxiety. I read recently that women in their 60’s are the most likely to be hospitalised because of anxiety. Oh dear!
Anxiety is the expression of fear and worry. Anxiety, fear and worry are the triplets no one wants to bring home for dinner. The more I share about this, the more I hear people say, “Me too.”
I’ve gotten various amounts of advice in this area. Everything from “breath deeply” (which I personally find to be a placebo that sounds nice only on bumper stickers) to prayer, from exercise to gratitude.
All these things can be helpful I suppose. I definitely feel more at peace and able to cope after I’ve gone for a run. Something nags at me though. I can’t help but think they are all a pair of crutches for a limping soldier. Not really a solution, just something to help you hop-along.
Tim Keller once said something that pierced me:
“Anxiety is the result of a collapsing false god.”
I thought back to the scriptures and the Israelites often struggled with fear themselves. God’s response? Stop trusting in idols and turn to me. Fear and idolatry are almost always mentioned together.
The Israelites trusted in things like:
– Their own strength
– Created things (literal idols of wood and stone)
– Other people
– Their own wisdom on how to handle things
– Their reputation
The list goes on…
God’s response? “Trusting in things that can’t truly save is a very fearful place to be indeed.”
What?! Yep, no fancy solutions. No deep breathing. No prayer (as an idol in and of itself).
Just Jesus. Immanuel, God with us.
The temptation is to call this naive thinking. Advice meant for a bumper sticker.
Listen to these words of God.
In Isaiah God says, “Fear not, for I am with you” and “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you”
In the Psalms, David famously says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
The antidote to fear is the presence of Jesus.
No stats on how rarely planes crash will bring down fear. Reputation, no matter how highly people think of me, will not decrease anxiety. Constant reassurance of my child’s safety will not erase my worry.
None of those things will help if my comfort is found in an idol.
Only the reality of the presence of Jesus brings peace. He is the one of most value, the thing of most worth, the object worth my highest affection.
Anything else that I trust for protection, safety and reassurance will only bring more fear, worry and anxiety.
This has been my prayer lately, “I will not fear, for you are with me… may you truly be my greatest treasure.”
What do you desire and trust most apart from “God With Us”? In what false ways do you try to “manage and control” the resulting anxiety, fear and worry?