Real Christians Are Not Anxious
1 Peter 5:7 …Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
For me, writing a blog on anxiety is a little like writing a blog on motherhood. I may have some observational knowledge, but I just do not know what it is like to live it. What little anxiety I have known has been situational, caused by my own bad behavior. I imagine the pounding of the heart, shortness of breath and utter panic that I knew in my worst moments compares to what those with true anxiety feel daily.
My limited experience though, hardly qualifies me to write on what it is like to live with chronic anxiety. If anything, I suffer from a blessed ability to remain apathetic and aloof, both agonizing defects, I am sure, to those around me. So, I do not know generalized anxiety experientially. This of course is not going to stop me from addressing anxiety, as it is the topic of today’s passage. So, here goes…
Anxiety is one of a thousand defects of our flesh nature, which some suffer from more than others (If you insist it is not a defect, I am sorry, but this blog is not for you). The sufferer no more chooses anxiety as a personality attribute any more than I chose hypothyroidism, blue eyes or testosterone (and lust). Those who insist that Christians should not suffer from anxiety had better be free from any inherent defect themselves.
Anxiety (like pride, greed, self-obsession, depression, appetites for food, sex, and drugs) is a predisposition to a way of thinking. It may lead to destructive behavior for which the sufferer may have to take responsibility, but anxiety itself is a personality trait. Whether or not one is born with it or acquired it after birth means little to me.
I am not responsible for which defects I have. I alone however, am responsible for my behavior that follows from my defects. The sufferer of anxiety may indulge in this flesh defect by drinking alcohol (to treat the anxiety) or lash out at loved ones in response to the anxiety, thereby acting destructively.
Conversely, the sufferer may get help through counseling and even (gasp) medications. While it is true that medications can be a crutch, which we inappropriately rely on for many ills, the sufferer of anxiety is responsible to do whatever he or she has to do to avoid destructive behavior. This may mean taking medications. If you insist that taking medication for anxiety is faithless and wrong, please do not ever show up at my door, looking for an antibiotic for your strep throat (see James 5:14). I may not be responsible for diabetes, but if I have it and I refuse appropriate treatment, that is on me.
Like any other need or defect, we can and should use our need to turn us to God. Peter says that we are to continually take our anxiety to God, casting our cares on him. This is why God allows the thorns of our flesh to persist, to continuously turn us to him. In this sense, I embrace my defects, allowing them to keep me dependent on God. I may not like the defects of my flesh nature, but they are not going anywhere, so I will embrace them as they keep me dependent on God. It is my defects that turn me to God a thousand times daily. This is not a bad thing.
The sufferer of anxiety does not have to live in slavery to the defect. We can live very close to the flesh nature, chained to it, or we can live pursuing the spirit life in us. We reap the seeds we sow. The prescription that Jesus gave in Luke 9:23 for following him applies to every defect of the flesh nature. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow him. This is no different for those who are anxious than it is for those who suffer from pride, food/drug addiction, lust, or anger.
We are not responsible for our defects. We are however, responsible to do whatever it takes to behave rightly in response to that defect. We are responsible to do whatever it takes to follow Christ instead of self. In doing so, we can live free from the slavery to the flesh. This does not mean that our flesh will no longer be defective and will no longer influence us. It just means that in Christ, we can live free from slavery to our flesh defects.