Seeing Anxiety as a Gift from GodSeptember 23, 2022 Faith
Seeing Anxiety as a Gift from God
Tightness in the chest. A sense that you have pulsing, vibrating inside of your body and you just want to make it stop. Paul Grimmond, in his book about anxiety When the Noise Won’t Stop writes, “Panic is a full-body experience. Imagine someone sets multiple [cell phones] to vibrate, implants them in your head and chest, and then rings them constantly”. He also very aptly describes panic and anxiety as a noise: “A strangely silent noise. No one else can hear it, but it deafens you…it’s everywhere and nowhere.”
How could being assaulted with these sensations possibly be a gift from God? For Paul Grimmond, most of his life he just wanted to make the anxiety and panic stop. For many of us, our prayers could be summarized: “God, I’m uncomfortable. Please make me comfortable again,” Paul didn’t know how to understand or grow in the midst of his anxiety. Christians quoting Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious about nothing…” didn’t help. But eventually a new reality dawned on him. The Bible uses the same term to speak about godly concern (often translated as care), as it does for sinful anxiety. This opened up his world for seeing anxiety as taking him toward a deeper understanding of the Father’s gracious heart towards us.
In 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, the apostle Paul prefers the state of being unmarried, to being married. Why? Because a single person has more freedom and a singular focus to be anxious about what God wants, than the married person. Paul can describe anxiousness, or concern, as a good thing when directed toward what God desires. Therefore, we become free from anxiety, not by simply making it stop, but by directing our anxiety toward a focused care to know the grace, acceptance, and love of the Father towards us in Christ.
The World Health Organization reported a 25% increase in anxiety and depression after COVID. I vividly remember stories from members of my previous church who were first responders, telling me the numbers of suicide 9-1-1 calls grew exponentially in the first months of the shut-down. Anxiety and panic attacks leading to long-form depression and suicidal thoughts is a growing reality. I encourage us to think deeply and biblically about this and direct our anxieties toward tasting and seeing the Lord’s care and goodness towards us, through the grace of Jesus demonstrated for us on a cross.
We will never ponder enough these truths: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his only Son, but game him up for us all, how will he not also, together with him, graciously give us all things.” Romans 8:31-32. “Do not be afraid, little children, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
How would your life be changed if you redirected your anxieties away from a daily care for the things of this world and instead towards a deep belief and rest in the realities of the gospel? Perhaps then, anxiety could truly become a gift from our Father.
Anxiety: Knowing God’s Peace
by Paul Tautges
In God’s providence, three of us pastors began the year with sermons on fear and anxiety: you can listen to those here: