Don't Worry. Don't fear. Do Pray


Peter W. Guess

anxiety, fear, trust, obedience, peace of mind

I love the topic on understanding and managing anxiety. I often read up on it. I did a search for topics on worry and anxiety (and fear) in both Old and New Testament. What follows is a selected summary of selected verses I found, with my added comments. But before that, some thoughts...

What I am about to share may seem both controversial and heretical - or just plain bad theology. But this word theology is the key to what I see as very important in our day-to-day life path. Keep reading. This may blow your mind wide open;) or at the very least be a fascinating study on managing anxiety in 2022!

I think we will agree that the Bible is all about theology. God's dealings with the human and human kind trying to figure out God, salvation, who God is, how to relate to God, how to serve God, angels and the human condition and plenty more. The Bible is primarily about God's relationship to mankind.

Theology is the study and focus on how God relates to Humanity and vice versa.

Here we go again. The debate between faith verses science.

Psychology (and psychiatry) is primarily about mankind's relationship to himself/herself. They both deal with the inner workings of the mind, both healthy functioning and unhealthy.

Psychology is not about God. Nor is theology about the psychology of humanity - though it offers some key insights and guidance in some areas about the mind and how it functions or why it dysfunctions. And furthermore, theology and the Bible is not about psychiatry either - nor even the wider science of medicine. Just as the Bible is not a manual for engineering and medical practice, so it is not a manual for psychiatry or psychology.

However, the Bible (and our theology of it) provides great insights and glimpses into the psychology of the mind in terms of some key issues. One being anxiety and worry, as a primary driver of human behaviour. In this case there is plenty "theology" and directions and tips on managing "worry".

Let's take a look at the Biblical and theological perspectives.

Starting with Jesus (also in Luke 12:22-34)
"So do not have trouble in your mind about what might happen tomorrow. Tomorrow will have its own problems. It is enough for you to be thinking each day about the problems of that day." Matthew 6:34 (EASY)

3.1 Jesus covered many points about anxiety (worry) in Matthew 6: 24-34, teaching that:

- to start off Jesus says we need to choose our master: wealth or God
- we need to live one day at a time (also asking God for our "daily bread" - not weekly, monthly or yearly [Matthew 6:11])
- focus our energy on today and the problems of today (stay grounded, the psychologists will say)
- we get perspective and reduce our fears when we look at how God cares for His creation (birds, plants)
- we need to seek the Kingdom of God first (and then all the things we worry about will fall into place and our NEEDS will be supplied - in God's time
- focus on the priorities (eg. life versus food and clothing)

3.2 Jesus closed this discourse saying:

"God will certainly take care of you, much more than he takes care of the grass. You should trust him more than you do!" - verse 30

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." verse 32

"Instead, always think about the things that are important in the kingdom of heaven. Always do what God shows you is right. Then he will also give you the things that you need each day." Matthew 6:33 (EASY)

"When they take you to stand in front of their leaders, do not be afraid. Do not worry about what you should say or how you should say it. At that time, God will give you the right words to speak." Matthew 10:19 (EASY)

"Come to me all of you who are tired. You are like people who have worked for a long time. You are like people who have carried heavy things. Come to me. If you do that, you will find a place to rest." Matthew 11:28 (EASY)

3.3 In the gospel of Luke, Jesus was talking about the end times and His return with a warning:

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap... Be always on the watch, and pray..." Luke 21: 34-36

3.4 Recorded in the gospel of John, Jesus said:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 (NIV)

"I have told you these things so that you will have peace. You will be like that because you are united with me. In this world, you will have trouble. But be brave! I have destroyed the power of this world." John 16:33 (EASY)

When we know, memorise and recall God's word we can defeat anxiety and negative thinking.

3.5 Paul said much on anxiety:

He knew it well and his life was so often thrown upside down and he was consistently persecuted for his faith. With all that he was the "father" of many churches - an apostle, church planter, teacher and pastor...

"We are happy even when we have troubles and pain. That is because we know that those troubles help us to become patient and strong." Romans 5:3 (EASY)

"During this time now, we have troubles and pain. But I am sure that these troubles are not really very great. One day God will show us all the great things he has prepared for us. That will make the troubles that we have now seem very small." Romans 8:18 (EASY)

Paul lived with an eternal perspective on life, which helped him put the worries of life in perspective. If we imagine ourselves looking at our lives from heaven, we will see how small our worries really are. This is maybe a tool that Paul was trying to share with the Roman church.

Paul also encourages us to let the love of God enfold us and conquer our fears... "Because God loves us, none of these troubles can ever beat us. He makes us win against them." Romans 8:37 (EASY)

"All these troubles have happened to me. But also, every day I have trouble in my mind ("the pressure of my concern" [in the NIV]). I worry about the believers in all the churches." 2 Corinthians 11:28 (EASY)

In the main verses we look at in Philippians 4, Paul gives very specific guidance about dealing with anxiety, but at the start of the letter he says something of great interest.

"Therefore I am all the more eager to send him [Epaphroditus], so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have LESS anxiety." Philippians 2:28

Does this show us that Paul had anxiety about his ministry and being responsible for the many churches he planted? What about all the leaders he was training amd mentoring? Affirmative!

This is why he wrote out of such hard earned experience in the 4th chapter of Philippians. He was a great warrior of the faith, but worry and anxiety affected him as it does impact us all - and in particular those in leadership positions.

Paul was writing to Timothy to encourage him saying: "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

3.6 James said:

"My Christian friends, remember to be happy, even when many kinds of trouble happen to you. Troubles can help you." James 1:2 (EASY)

"God wants to see if you really trust him. Your faith in God will become stronger as a result of these troubles." James 1:3 (EASY)

3.7 Peter says:

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

3.8 John (also known as "the disciple loved by Jesus") seemed... have had a very special and intimate relationship with Jesus. The gospel of John, the letter of John and the book of Revelation seems to confirm this. He sees love as the key antidote to banish fear (worry/anxiety). If I love, then it displaces fear. If I fear it displaces love.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18 (NIV)

4.1 God speaks and says to Joshua:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

We need to be fully conscious that God is with us every moment of each day, whether we feel Him or not.

4.2 In the Psalms, the praise and worship music of Jewish warriors:
"The Lord takes care of me, like a shepherd with his sheep. I have everything that I need." Psalms 23:1 (EASY)

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."Psalms 23:4 (NIV)

"Be happy that the Lord takes care of you. He will give to you what you most want." Psalms 37:4 (EASY)

"Take your problems to the Lord [Cast your cares on the Lord (NIV)]. He will take care of you. He will never let his own people fall." Psalms 55:22 (EASY)

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." Psalms 56:3 (NIV)

4.3 In the wisdom of Proverbs:

"Be careful how you think. Your thoughts make you the person that you are." Proverbs 4:23 (EASY)

"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up." Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)
- invite a trusted friend to listen to your story and worries, openingyour heart to a "word of kindness" (doing this has seldom failed me)

4.4 Perspectives of the Prophets:

4.4.1 Isaiah:

"I am with you, so do not be afraid. I am your God, so do not be upset. I will make you strong and I will help you. My powerful right hand will keep you safe.” Isaiah 41:10 (EASY)

4.4.2 Jeremiah:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

Note: This was God speaking through Jeremiah to the Jews, while living in exile during a 70 year period. The context and perspective of this verse reveals a promise of freedom, but NOT to immediately rescue the Jews from hardship and suffering.

We can apply this to our lives and understand that it's rather a promise that God has a plan for our lives and regardless of our current situation, He can work through it to prosper us and give us a hope and a future. []

4.4.3 Ezekiel

The following two references in Ezekiel show that disobedience to God and the consequences of that disobedience, may be at the root of some anxiety.

'He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair." Ezekiel 4:16 (NIV)

"Say to the people of the land: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about those living in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel: They will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there." Ezekiel 12:19 (NIV)

We end then on a sombre note or is it the makings of a song?

"Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey". Sung in 1973-74 period during the Jesus Revolution.

Maybe many of our troubles, worries , fears and anxieties that are confronting us are pointing us to God!

Please comment and thanks for reading... Amen!


Your comments please?