Have you ever or do you suffer with anxiety? Do you have concerns and worries? I think if we are truthful, we all have had at one time or another anxiety, concerns, and worries.

Mind the mental health charity gives the following as causes of anxiety:

Past or Childhood Experiences

  •  Abuse
  • Bullying
  • Loss of a Parent
  • Issues in parenting

And although I am not an expert, I would add more generally painful past experiences.

Current Situations

  • Change
  • Money Problems
  • Exhaustion
  • Loss

Physical and Mental Health

  • Underlying conditions can bring about anxiety

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Legal and Illegal drugs
  • Alcohol

There is one current situation that is affecting the whole world that it is pertinent for us to talk about in relation to anxiety and that is the COVID 19 pandemic. At times I am sure many of us have been anxious, many of us may still be anxious, what does the future hold, will things go back to the way they were before?

In our time together I want to answer the following questions:

1.    For those who would not call themselves followers of Jesus: Can God help me with anxiety and worry?

2.    For the follower of Jesus:

If I get anxious or worried, what should I do?

There is of course overlap in these two questions.

The Bible seems to expect that people will get anxious, being a Christian or not does not mean you will be exempt from having worried or anxious thoughts:

1 Peter 5:7

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The context of this verse is around leadership and those who are under leadership (all of us are, like it or not). The apostle Peter acknowledges that in this circumstance anxiety may arise and so He says Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Do I believe that this is the only time anxiety will arise, no, my personal experiences say not, and I do not think Peter is limiting anxiety to just this situation.

Anxiety and worry are result of living in a broken world.

In fact, the bible speaks of many other times when anxiety and worries may affect us.

The Apostle Paul tells the church at Philippi to not be anxious about anything (the church as Philippi was most likely being heavily persecuted)

 Philippians 4:6-7

6a Do not be anxious about anything,

Instead of being anxious about a situation bring things to God, it is worth understanding that this does not mean we should be oblivious to what is going on, rather how we deal with things.

6b but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Here we have the key to defeating anxiety and worry, at the point we start to feel anxious we have a choice, we can nip it in the bud or we can allow it to grow:

Prayer, Petition and Thanksgiving

This answers one of our two questions:

To defeat anxiety, we need to present our requests to God with thanksgiving:
Prayer and petition (translated supplication in the ESV) are very similar and in this instance would form part of an overall request (when we say request, we are meaning prayer to God).

Prayer perhaps refers to general conversation, to asking for guidance, petition is more specific looking to overt situations.

So, we take our worries our anxieties to God, we are specific, we need to be open and honest with God, prayer is conversation.

Alongside our request we need to acknowledge and give thanks for what God has already done in our lives. At this point you may want to shout at me “Adam you just don’t get where I am at, life is hard, how can I be thankful to God” all who believe in God know that we can be thankful always because He sent His son to die for us so that we can have eternal life. There will be other things you can be thankful for, but this is something everyone in the world can be thankful for, if they choose to accept Jesus.

7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The result of doing this is the peace of God, it does not necessarily mean everything will be sorted out, but this peace will help you to cope, the more we pray, the more we petition, the more we draw closer to God, the more we will experience that peace.

There is a hard part, once we have given the things hat are causing as to be anxious to God, we need to trust Him and leave them in his hands:

Martin Luther is quoted as saying:

Pray, and let God worry

So, to answer my first question, yes God cares about your worries, about any anxiety we may have, these ultimately are the result of us living in a broken world, a broken society, the first scripture verse we looked at today said

1 Peter 5:7

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

God cares, He demonstrated this by sending His son Jesus to pay the price for our sins. God is interested in all aspects of our lives; He is not distant.

The temptation is to blame God for everything that goes wrong, without admitting our wrongs, without admitting our need for a saviour. When things are good, no need for God, God had nothing to do with it, God does not exist, when things go wrong what has God ever done for me?

God wants you to give Him your worries, your anxieties, are you prepared to let Him in?

To let God in starts with us accepting that we are sinners and that we need a saviour, Jesus.

If you want to accept God, if you want to accept Jesus then repeat this prayer after me:

Dear God,

I am sorry, I am a sinner, I know that I have done things that have damaged my relationship with you. Help me to turn away from sin. Thank you for sending your son Jesus to die for me on the cross, for raising Him from the dead three days later. Thank you for this free gift.

I accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

Fill me with your spirit.

Amen

Adam Boud