If I am honest with myself, I have lived with anxiety all my life. Even as blessed as I am, I still worry about things. Growing up I worried about having friends, getting good grades, making the basketball team, even getting a girl to like me. Today my anxiety is quite different. Money, my children, work, health and ultimately what we all must face – death. While I still consider myself an anxious person, God’s word has helped me turn the table on my anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
The dictionary defines Anxiety as distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune. There is plenty of danger and misfortune in our world today because of sin. Christians are not immune from danger, misfortune, or anxiety. Anxiety can be a serious medical condition that may require medication. Sometimes things go wrong with our brains. Some people have seasonal depression, social anxiety, or even serious depression. Anxiety can be serious or silly depending on the person. I am not trying to downplay the seriousness of anxiety and depression. In any case, they are all caused by our sin. We are all damaged by sin in one way or another. The 1st commandment has helped me realize what my anxiety actually is. It is a sin against the 1st commandment.
The 1st Commandment – You Shall Have No Other Gods.
From Luther’s Small Catechism:
What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
What God did I love today? Today and every day, I have love many gods above the only true God. The Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – came in second, third, probably last in my love today. I love my health, my family, my stomach, and my sin today and everyday more than God. My anxiety about all those things I love, that I can’t live without; are sins against the 1st commandment. I can’t break free of this anxiety and worship of false gods.
Our sinful condition, inherited from Adam loves to worship everything but God. Everything of this world is more important to us. The Devil will help push us along with a little whisper in our ear. God can’t possibly expect you to love him more than your family and friends. He can’t ask you to love him more than your health and well-being. He won’t forgive your anxiety about your health, your money. You are supposed to love him above all things. You fail at that daily. The devil knows all the tricks to fuel your anxiety. The world will tell you prosperity, health, happiness are the keys to life. So when things don’t go your way the world will sell you books, drugs, alcohol and whatever else to help you forget about your anxiety and your sin. Then American Pop Christianity rolls in to sell you some wacky program on how to live your best life now and become free of stress and anxiety. The only answer to your anxiety and mine is the cross of Jesus Christ.
Your Anxiety is Gone.
In Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV), Jesus talks directly to all of us who suffer with anxiety.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The word of God and the sacraments comfort us as we carry our personal crosses in this life. The gifts of God in baptism, communion, and confession & absolution strengthen our faith. These gifts help us resist our sin, the devil and the world. They help to keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus Christ as the perfecter of our faith. Jesus Christ is no stranger to anxiety, as he took all our anxiety and sin to the cross. Only through the life and death of Jesus Christ is our anxiety forgiven. In the resurrection of our flesh we will live without anxiety. Our love will be focused directly where it was meant to be directed -on The Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.