Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. (Proverbs 12:25)
Let’s face it: We are overwhelmed with worry and anxiety, perhaps more so than we are willing to admit. We are overcommitted, overwhelmed, and overstressed personally and professionally. The problem has gotten so bad that the World Health Organization has labeled anxiety the “health epidemic of the 21st century.” Much of this can be explained by the fact that there appears to be more to worry about than ever before. Outside of our offices, we are confronted with global stressors such as terrorism, financial insecurity, moral decay, and a ridiculously divisive political climate. At work, anxiety hits even closer to home as new product launches, tighter deadlines, difficult bosses, inadequate compensation, and the demand to always “level-up” in our careers all punish us with worry. In short, Satan offers us no shortage of things to stress us and distract us from the work the Father has created us to do.
So, what does God’s Word suggest we do about the mounting stress in our lives?
The first thing we must do is confront rather than ignore anxiety. Scripture speaks quite a bit about anxiety, and therefore, recognizes its existence. We must do the same. Anxiety is a human condition resulting from the fall. Tragic as it may be, it is a reality of life. Pretending our anxiety doesn’t exist or attempting to sweep it under the proverbial rug are extremely unhealthy and dangerous ways to engage with stress. Instead, we need to be honest and self-aware, confronting the reality of anxiety in our lives.
The Apostle Paul offers some insight into how we can do this. In Philippians 4:6 he says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” He says that life is going to be full of opportunities for worry. But rather than being overcome by anxiety, we are to confront our worries head-on. When stress and worries arise at home or in the workplace, our first reaction should be to recognize them in prayer to the Lord. He has graciously offered himself up as our outlet for stress relief and He has promised that He can handle all the things we cannot. As the Psalmist declares, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
So, as we experience anxiety this week, let us be quick to confront it and take it to the Lord in prayer.