Getting to the Root of Anxiety

Of the passage in which Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27), Matthew Henry writes, “It is a comfort to those who go down to the sea in ships, and are often in perils there, to reflect that they have a Savior to trust in and pray to, Who knows what it is to be on the water, and to be in storms there. Those who are passing with Christ over the ocean of this world must expect storms…[The disciples], in their fear, came to their Master. Thus is it in a soul; when lusts and temptations are swelling and raging, and God is, as it were, asleep to it, this brings it to the brink of despair. Then it cries for a word from His mouth – ‘Lord Jesus, keep not silence to me, or I am undone.’ Many that have true faith are weak in it. Christ’s disciples are apt to be disquieted with fears in a stormy day; to torment themselves that things are bad with them, and with dismal thoughts that they will be worse. Great storms of doubt and fear in the soul, under the power of the spirit of bondage, sometimes end in a wonderful calm, created and spoken by the Spirit of adoption. They were astonished. They never saw a storm so turned at once into a perfect calm. He that can do this can do anything, which encourages confidence and comfort in Him, in the most stormy day, within or without” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary).

WHEN STORMS RAGE IN YOUR HEART

As Christians, we are going to experience storms of the heart, but we are not left on our own (John 16:33). When the waves of anxiety rise and doubtful winds whip through our souls, we can take heart knowing that we have a Deliverer – Jesus Christ, Who can calm our stormy hearts just as well as He calmed that stormy sea.

GET TO THE ROOT OF YOUR ANXIETY

I’ve found that most of my anxiety is caused by one of two things – a mistrust of God’s sovereignty or a mistrust of His kindness. When I was in the process of applying to several colleges and waiting to hear back about various financial aid opportunities, I experienced an anxiety that stemmed from doubting God’s sovereignty. I wasn’t convinced that the Lord could provide for my needs and supply the financial help my family needed for me to go to the university I felt He was calling me to, and it made me nervous. And when I experienced a medical scare a few months into my sophomore year of college, I faced an anxiety that came from doubting God’s kindness. Before, I had struggled to trust in His power. The second time around, I struggled to trust His heart.

WHAT CAN BE DONE

The way I see it, anxiety is more of a symptom than it is a standalone problem. It is a heart problem long before it is a mental one. It reveals a lack of trust in God. It is a burden that we submit ourselves to every time we wrongfully place our hope in the things of this world, rather than on the things above (Colossians 3:2).

Once we get to the root of our anxiety though, we can begin directing our spiritual efforts towards combating it. If your anxiety stems from a lack of trust in God’s sovereignty and power, do a topical Bible study on just that. Read Exodus 14 and marvel at the God who parted the Red Sea so His people could cross on dry land. Remind yourself that the same God who felled the city of Jericho in Joshua 6 is forever by your side (Matthew 28:20b). Pray that the Lord would be pleased to strengthen your faith in Him, the Mighty One who knows your needs and provides (Philippians 4:19). If your anxiety comes more from a lack of trust in God’s kindness, remind yourself of the ultimate reason for the cross of Calvary. Jesus gave everything to save sinners. That’s what God sent Him to earth to do (John 3:16). Never has there been a grander display of God’s kindness, and the God Who sent His only Son for you and me is the same God we love and serve today. He is faithful, and He is kind. When anxiety overwhelms you and you are tempted to doubt His kindness, remind yourself of the truth that everything He does is for His glory and your good (Romans 8:28).

To read more about how I combat anxiety with worship, check out my post The Weapon of Worship.

Take one, dear one. He is working…for His glory and your good.

4 thoughts on “Getting to the Root of Anxiety

  1. That’s a great point about God’s glory and our good being one and the same. John Piper once said, “One of the most precious truths in the Bible is that God’s greatest interest is to glorify the wealth of His grace by making sinners happy in Him – in Him! When we humble ourselves like little children and put on no airs of self-sufficiency, but run happily into the joy of our Father’s embrace, the glory of His grace is magnified and the longing of our soul is satisfied. Our interest and His glory become one” (“Our Good is His Glory,” desiringgod.org). That’s a beautiful thought to dwell on. Thank you for commenting!

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