The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes anxiety as a state of apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill. Many of us try hard to avoid this feeling, but it is a normal part of life. Experiencing anxiety or worry, as some of us choose to refer to it, is similar to a light coming on in our car to let us know action needs to be taken to prevent or correct a problem. The light is not the problem, but it alerts us to the problem. However, if the light stays on too long, a problem that may have been avoided becomes one that cannot be ignored; and so it is with anxiety. If ignored it becomes a disorder that must be treated, often by a professional therapist or clergy.
Going back to the definition that the Webster Dictionary provides, we can conclude that anxiety derives from a sense of being out of control of our circumstances, or a feeling of powerlessness. In my lifetime, I have heard only one person say she never feel anxious, so I will venture to say that at least most of us have some degree of feeling insecure, whether by circumstances, or thoughts that might be triggered from an experience from our past, or an imagined outcome in an anticipated future event. Whatever the trigger, the result is a feeling of not having the power or ability to manage the situation.
Those of us who believe in biblical history are familiar with the predicament that the children of Israel were in after they reached the Red Sea during their march to the Promise Land. Although they had been freed from bondage, they still had trauma from cruel treatment and hardships under the harsh rule of Pharaoh. As they journeyed to experience a more fulfilling, peaceful life, they were halted by something they had absolutely no control of, the Red Sea which blocked their path to freedom and prosperity. They also saw their worst nightmare fast approaching from behind. It was as if the trauma that most of them had experienced was being manifest into their present reality. There must have been enormous anxiety as they had become utterly powerless under their circumstances. Nevertheless, you know how this part of their story ends. Moses, their leader, turned to God for help in their time of need. Their connection to God calmed their anticipated ill.
In Philippians 4:6-7 the Apostle Paul writes: “do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.” As much as possible, we want to keep the warning light from going off in our car by providing proper maintenance. However, when it does go off, it is best to respond as soon as possible to avoid the real problem. Mindful prayer is God’s gift to us to be connected to Him, who is well able to help us in time of need. Mindful prayer also enables us to keep that connection and maintain a sense of peace instead of anxiety. However, many of us fall short of this, but the way back is through prayer.
However, there are occasions in which we need help from others such as a prayerful friend, a psychotherapist, or clergy. These are God’s provisions to help us to become reconnected to Him so that the warning light of anxiety can be diffused, and we can see our anxiety causing situation, thought, or even unpleasant feelings through God’s eyes and get a perspective that will result in peace and confidence. Certainly, this seems impossible, but so did the situation that the people of Israel were in. Jesus said: “…with God all things are possible.” Therefore, if you are anxious, confess your anxieties to God and ask for help in these areas. If you need someone to come alongside, seek out a therapist, a reliable friend or clergy who can help you see things from a more positive perspective. Our lives are full of impossible situations that we cannot control, that often results in anxiety, but when we see through His eyes there is hope.