We’re All Freaking Out (And Why We Don’t Need To)

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Anxiety Beyond Understanding?


People saying, “Don’t be anxious,” when we are anxious is like saying, “Just fall asleep,” to someone struggling to fall asleep. It doesn’t help. If we could just stop, we would. 


The Bible promises that we can experience a peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). If that is promised, why do we rarely feel that peace? For most of us, the opposite is true: we experience anxiety that goes beyond understanding. 


But for believers in Christ, this doesn’t have to be the case. 


Tragically, the church has often failed in addressing the issue of anxiety, with such ineffective banalities as “If you just had more faith, you would not be anxious.” Some of the godliest people I know struggle with anxiety currently or have in the past, and some of the least anxious people are the most ungodly. Suggesting that people with anxiety just ramp up their faith is not just unhelpful but also insulting. 


We are anxious not because we are faith failures but because we don’t know how not to be. 


The word the Bible uses most often for anxiety, worry, and anxiousness is the Greek term merimnao, which means dwelling on or pondering fearful or anxious thoughts. 


When the Bible says, “Do not be anxious” in Philippians 4:6, it is not saying, “Don’t have anxious thoughts.” That’s impossible. We can’t just not have those thoughts.


Rather, it’s saying, “Do not meditate or dwell on those anxious thoughts.” That is possible; we can choose not to continue ruminating on anxious thoughts. Think of it like this: you may not be able to stop a burglar from bursting into your house, but you can choose not to invite him to sit down and stay awhile. 


The most repeated command in all of Scripture is “Fear not.” God tells us not to fear more than he tells us not to murder, commit adultery, or steal. God tells us not to fear more than he tells us to pray or love our neighbor. 


God invites all of us into lives marked by his peace instead of our panic and tells us how to get there. That’s what we’ll be exploring this week.


You may think you don’t want to live in fear anymore. God wants that for you even more.


Under what circumstances are you most likely to be anxious? Why do you think that is?