Heathdale flower 26th March 2020

Helping Break the Power of Anxiety

Faithfully respond. Don’t fearfully react.

Heathdale flower

I’ve come to realise that the things which matter most to me, I have no control over, and the few things that I ‘seem’ to control are inconsequential by comparison. For example, my daughter suffers from a chronic illness for which there is no cure and her immune system is severely compromised. In the midst of a pandemic, anxiety could tempt me to take control. To wrap her in cotton wool, carefully tuck her in a germ-free container and securely place her on a safe shelf until everything passed. But the reality is I can’t control the coronavirus or my daughter’s health. Even more importantly, is that a response of faith or fear? I want to be alert, but I do not want to be alarmed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the anxiety level of many within Australia. Anxiety is the fear of the ‘what if.’ We all at times feel anxious about something. It’s a condition of the heart that gives rise to many harmful states of mind. So what is anxiety? The Greek word for anxiety in the Bible means: ‘to be divided or distracted.’ It’s a painful state of uneasiness due to a future uncertainty or an impending fear. Anxiety has three main elements: (1) Insecurity – something bad is going to happen to me. (2) Helplessness – there is nothing that I can do about it. (3) Isolation – there is no one to help me. These three things can operate individually or in various combinations. Physically, emotionally and spiritually these elements cause as much harm imagined, as they do in reality.

Consider for a moment how many different actions and attitudes flow out of anxiety. Anxiety about food and supply shortages give rise to greed and hoarding. Anxiety about performance can make you irritable and abrupt. Anxiety about relationships can make you withdrawn and uncaring. Anxiety about being rejected can make you cover over the truth and lie. Therefore, if anxiety can be conquered, a lot of harmful stuff could be overcome in our lives.

What is the root of anxiety and how can it be severed? In Jesus’ first sermon in Matthew 6, He says five times that we should not be anxious (vv. 25, 27, 28, 31 and 34). But in v.30 Jesus identifies the source of anxiety, "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?" Jesus is saying that the root of anxiety is a lack of faith in our heavenly Father. When faith wavers, unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts and the result is anxiety. Much anxiety comes from little faith or unbelief. By unbelief I’m referring to the failure to trust God and His promises.

So, how can we free ourselves from anxiety? Take one promise recorded in Romans 8:13, “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Let’s apply this truth practically. Suppose you are tempted to become anxious about what’s happening around the Coronavirus. This verse says in effect, “If you kill it (anxiety) by the Spirit, you will live.” What does it mean, “by the Spirit?” Of all the armour that God gives us to fight, there is only one piece that is used for killing – the sword. In Ephesians it is called the “sword of the Spirit.” So when Paul says, “Kill sin by the Spirit,” he wants us to depend on the Spirit, especially His sword.

What is the sword the Spirit is wielding? It’s the word of God. Here’s where faith comes in. “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The word of God helps me to stop trusting in the lie that being anxious will make things better. Instead, the Bible calls me to trust in God and His promises. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil.4:6-7). When faith is in the driver’s seat of my heart and I am satisfied with Christ and His promises, then the power of anxiety is broken.

Faithfully respond. Don’t fearfully react.