Anxiety’s One Job
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:5-6
It was in the disastrous consequences of my addiction, when I had nothing else left, that I began to learn faith – what it meant to truly rely on God. I certainly don’t practice faith perfectly now, but I would say that with my drug addiction, God has shown me extraordinary grace in transforming my appetite. I no longer struggle with a hunger for pills. I could relapse if I stopped working on my faith and recovery, but today, thank God, I don’t struggle with them.
Pills were just a symptom of a much bigger problem though – I always want to follow my appetite, no matter how self-destructive. I do still struggle with that. For instance, I still want to eat that which is unhealthy. God hasn’t removed that hunger, though I’ve asked him to do so. Some struggles he takes, and some, he allows to remain. If he made my life perfect, I’d stop practicing faith because I simply wouldn’t need him anymore. It is in my need that I turn to God. My faith needs my continual need.
For many, anxiety falls into this persistent struggle category. I know those who’ve prayed for God to take their anxiety away and he hasn’t. I know their frustration. I’ve had unanswered prayers too. Some struggles, God allows to remain to keep us dependent on him. and in today’s passage, Paul told us (once again) what to do with our anxiety.
When we experience anxiety – which may be every day – we must remind ourselves that God is always present. In realizing that, we must take our anxiety to him in prayer. We must give our anxiety to God, sometimes a thousand times a day. We ask him to fill us with his peace, but we don’t stop there. Faith means action as well. So, we must also ask God what he wants us to do with our anxiety. Then, we must do whatever he commands, which may very well involve counseling and/or medical help.
We all struggle with something, and that struggle may just be how God teaches us to rely on him. I’m not saying your anxiety is God’s fault and I’m not saying that anxiety is actually a good thing. I am saying that in our anxiety, we can daily learn to trust God, continually praying for peace, while also asking what we must do to follow him. Anxiety’s one job may be to teach us to live by faith. We may struggle with anxiety, but in faith, we don’t have to live enslaved to it.