There’s a lot of things that make people (including me!) anxious. I did some research, and here are of the some things that didn’t surprise me:
- Going to the dentist (side note: dentists are some of the nicest people I know!)
But then there were other things that make people anxious that did surprise me:
- Like one of the top 10 fears people have is dogs. Who knew?
- Elevators (I love elevators).
- And public speaking.
For me, anxiety feels like restlessness.
My heart starts racing.
I’ll start physically pacing around the house or room I’m in.
I’ll struggle to sleep at night.
I’ll start thinking rationally about something, and minutes later I’ll find myself thinking about the absolute worst-case scenario.
When I’m just a little anxious I’ll bite my nails, and when I’m struggling a lot it almost feels like I can’t breathe.
That’s an idea of what anxiety feels like for me personally, but an important question to ask around anxiety is what are we actually anxious about?
There are a ton of things that could make us anxious, but here are five common things that I think we can all agree have the power to take a little worry and turn it into anxiety, fast.
Crazy as it may sound, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you still worry about it! It’s all relative, whether you have a lot of money or none—money makes us anxious.
Will we have enough money?
How am I gonna pay these bills?
Am I going to lose my job?
I don’t have a big house like my friends.
I don’t have a nice car.
Do people like me because I have money?
Money– it makes us anxious and afraid.
Second, we’re often anxious and afraid of failure!
Failing as a parent. I don’t want to screw up my kids.
Failing at a job. My worth comes from what I do.
Failing as a follower of Jesus. I’ve just messed up so many times.
The fear of failure, it paralyzes us. Convincing us that we’ll fail before we even have a chance to try.
Failure, even the thought of failure, makes us anxious.
A third thing that often makes us anxious and afraid is death. Maybe now more than ever.
Anxious about getting sick.
Anxious about our kids getting sick.
Worrying about the death of a friend or our spouse.
Worrying about our own death or the death of a parent.
So many of us right now are anxious about the coronavirus, and there’s just this constant fear that seems like it never really lets up. On top of that, there’s still things like cancer, miscarriages, and heart attacks out there.
Just being honest, I get anxious about my parents’ health all the time, especially right now. When I get a call from them at a strange time, I’m always worried that one of them is in the hospital, and more than that, has one of them died?
Is anyone else anxious about death?
A huge source of our anxiety and fear is people, other people!
Anxious of being rejected.
Afraid of having others gossip about you.
Anxious that you won’t be enough, good enough or cool enough, for another person to like or love you.
We go through our days consumed by what others think, leaving us anxious and afraid.
Lastly, the fifth thing that often makes us anxious and afraid is the future.
Afraid of what might happen.
Of what could take place.
Of what tomorrow might bring.
Of next week, next month, and next year.
And isn’t that what anxiety does? It makes us focus on what might happen, and what could take place, and what if. What might happen in the future hurts our ability to live today!
So those are a few things that can cause us to be anxious, but now I want to look at what God says about anxiety.
Where anxiety says that no one is beside you, God says, “I am.”
When I’m anxious, this is one of the biggest lies I believe: that I’m completely alone.
But thankfully for all of us, God steps in, and He says that’s not true.
That’s a lie, I’m with you!
I’m beside you.
I’m near you.
I see you.
I’m here right now, and I still love you.
God says in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
In fact, the Bible says it over and over again. But this is not meant to shame you. No, quite the opposite actually. When God speaks the words, he’s not saying, “Suck it up and don’t be a coward. Just stop being afraid!”
Instead he’s saying, “Don’t be afraid because I am right here. And wherever I am, freedom and peace can be found. I am your protector and provider. We will get through this together.”
Regardless of what you think and feel, the truth is, God has never left our side. He’s not up in the clouds. He’s not way out there. It’s not just a warm and fuzzy feeling–He is with us. And He carries us throughout the day.
But he even takes it one step further, get this: God’s not just with us in a dark valley. He’s with us in the darkest valley.
David says in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Has anyone ever been in the darkest valley before? Maybe you feel like you’re there right now. God says, even then, “I am here.”
In your darkest struggle.
In this time of uncertainty.
Your feelings of being all alone.
The time you thought the world would be better without you.
When you felt like you couldn’t breathe.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
Let’s remind ourselves one more time, anxiety says that no one is beside you. But God says, “I am.” Where? Not just in a valley, but in the darkest valley.
Jesus said it himself, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
Christ holds you secure. And no thing and no one will snatch you from his hand. Find rest in this reality today.