What the Bible Teaches About Worry
We’re All Freaking Out (and Why We Don’t Need To)
Over the past 10 years, I have worked as a pastor at the Porch, a young-adult ministry in Dallas, Texas, that brings in thousands of people every week to worship, with many more joining us via satellite locations around America. This role has allowed me to work directly with tens of thousands of young men and women.
I have seen up close the dramatic spike in anxiety, panic attacks, and worry and what effect those are having on their lives. Many of these young adults were raised in church and became Christians at a young age but never understood what the Bible teaches or how to put what it says into practice.
As a result of what I was observing, I began to prioritize teaching principles from the Bible to provide a strategy for what to do when anxiety strikes. Here are a few of those principles.
Identify what’s making you anxious.
Too many of us feel shame over our anxiety and try to pretend it isn’t there. That doesn’t help. It can actually make us more anxious. (Now we’re not just anxious; we’re also anxious that we’re anxious!) And pretending we are not anxious when we are does not mean we are more spiritual; it means we are in denial.
Don’t be ashamed of anxious feelings. You cannot change what you will not face. So, why are you anxious? What are you worried about? What keeps you awake at night? What are you afraid of?
Write it out or say it out loud to yourself. The next time you are anxious, chase down your anxiety and face what’s beneath it by filling in these blanks: I am anxious about ________ because __________.
Begin to uncover the roots of your anxious feelings and then address them with truths from God’s Word.
Release your plans and embrace God’s.
The art of releasing your agenda doesn’t mean pretending you don’t have one. God loves you and wants you to express your hopes and desires to him.
Seeking God’s kingdom first means choosing to trust him and want what he wants, whether or not it includes everything we want. After all, God is sovereign, which means he is in control of everything. If he doesn’t want me to get the job, I am not getting the job. If he doesn’t want me to be married, I am not going to be married. I am not going to prevent God’s plans.
Maybe you need a job. You have done everything you can to find one, but no luck. You finally find one that would be a good fit. You apply and interview. Then you find yourself waiting to hear if you got the job. Embracing God’s agenda looks like going to him in prayer and saying something like, “God, you know how desperately I need this job. If I don’t get it, I don’t know what I am going to do. Please let me get it. But if I don’t because it’s not your will, I trust you. Amen.”
Release your plans, embrace God’s, and in return, you will get peace.
Choose to see the world with an eternal perspective.
As the Apostle Paul launched into how to battle anxiety, he started by saying, “Rejoice [be joyful] in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
This is another of those verses where I’m tempted to roll my eyes and think, Are you saying we can just choose joy, Paul? It’s that simple? Like, I just choose to be joyful? C’mon, man, how can you say that? But remember, Paul wrote those words while chained in a prison cell, waiting to receive the death penalty. He clearly has the street cred to make such a claim.
Notice he doesn’t say, “Rejoice in the circumstances.” He says, “Rejoice in the Lord ” in every circumstance. Paul would say you can choose to put the “joy in the Lord” filter over everything in your life.
What do I mean by “right” perspective? I mean with an eternal perspective. You can choose to see the world around you with either an earthly perspective, thinking, Life sucks. This is always how it’s going to be. Bad things always happen to me, or you can choose to see the world with an eternal perspective, setting your eyes on the joy of spending an eternity in heaven with Jesus. That’s how Paul was able to choose joy: he maintained an eternal perspective.
Excerpted from WE’RE ALL FREAKING OUT (and Why We Don’t Need To): Finding Freedom from Your Anxious Thoughts and Feelings © 2021 by David James Marvin. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, on October 5, 2021.