Dizzy With Worry & Anxiety
Devotional Written by: Rachel Stone
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love…
Stop. What are you thinking about right now in this moment? Okay.
Now review your day. Any recurring, preoccupying thoughts? In other words, what takes priority in your thought life?
What do you worry most about in life? Do you know why? Be honest here.
Do you ever think about what you think about? Some of us do and we are perfectly aware of it because we know we are “overthinkers,” or, as we like to think, we are “careful deliberators.” Nothing wrong with that, necessarily, unless we let ourselves get carried away. It is interesting how easily we allow ourselves to indulge in certain thought patterns or dwell on earthly priorities. We can easily allow regrets of yesterday, cares of the day, or concerns about tomorrow to seep in and overtake our minds. Sure, we take responsibility for our actions, handle obligations of the day, and plan for tomorrow; but what about when those cares become worry? And what about when worry creates anxiety?
Consider these definitions from Webster’s Dictionary:
Worry: to subject to persistent or nagging attention: to afflict with mental distress or agitation; worry is more than genuine concern about something.
Anxiety: extreme uneasiness of mind, brooding fear.
Surely this is not what a loving, gracious, caring creator desires for his children! Think about it—“persistent, nagging attention,” “affliction,” “mental distress,” “extreme uneasiness,” “brooding fear” —is that what God wants for you? Let’s take a look at what Jesus said about worry and how to bring our thoughts back into balance.
25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? 27 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 30 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? 31 Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. -Matthew 6:25-33 Common English Bible (CEB)
What does this passage from Matthew teach?
Don’t worry about your life, what you will wear or what you will eat. Because life is more than food & the body more than clothes.
Note how God feeds the birds of the air and dresses the flowers of the field. You are worth more than these. God does much more for you.
In light of faith, worry is unnecessary. In other words, God knows what you need, God provides for you, and God loves you. Learn to trust God.
Your first priority is to desire God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. We are to seek God.
Okay. Got it. No worries. Well, sometimes it just doesn’t seem that easy to let go and quit worrying. We admire those who say “whatever will be, will be.” Or, “God said it, so that’s that.” We might quietly resent that, or believe they don’t really, deep down inside, follow their own mantra. Guess what? They have a point. We do our part with God’s help because God loves us and provides all we need to be his children. It really is about seeing the love behind God’s abundant provision for us. What if we don’t see it? What if we make all this effort and still feel God is silent? What if we don’t like an outcome? Remember who God is. Learn more about who God is and why you can trust God. Seek God.
We seek God because God knows us (Psalm 139), God loves us (John 3:16; 1 John 3:1), God is faithful (Psalm 86:15), and because God desires for us to seek him and know him (Jeremiah 29:11-13). When we seek God, we shift our focus to who God is and to God’s purposes. God brings balance to our thinking, peace to our uneasiness, and comfort in our distress. We can trust God to provide all we need to live according to his purposes and for the sake of his kingdom.
Some of us worry and, for some of us that worry has led to anxiety. Especially for those who feel overwhelmed by anxiety, know that God sees you and God hears you. Know that God will take your hand and lift you up out of a miry pit. God surrounds you with his love in tangible ways including his work through other people. Do read and pray scripture. Do reach out to a trusted friend or family member, or to one of our pastors. Allow others to walk alongside you and to guide you toward help that best suits your situation. You are not alone. You are loved!
What tends to precipitate worry? (e.g., desire to control circumstances; succumbing to cultural pressure; fear of the unknown)
Name consequences of worry & anxiety. (e.g., low energy; anger; isolation; reliance on substances; feeling apart from God)
God of love and grace, you created each one of us. We cannot comprehend the depth of your love for us and yet we know you sent your son, Jesus, to die for us so that we might live. You know us and you desire for us to know you. Forgive us when we let the cares of this world stir our hearts and minds to worry and anxiety. We neglect to seek you with all our heart and we let the desires of our hearts instead focus on worldly kingdoms. Yet we see time and again in your story that you rescue and restore your people. Turn our hearts toward you, God, so that our desires align with your kingdom. Reveal yourself to us as we read the Bible, reveal our hearts, and show us our savior. For those of us who suffer deeply from anxious thoughts, help us feel your presence in our lives. Help us see you at work in your promises, in simple ways of daily life, and in others who can bring encouragement and strength. Use others of us, God, to be that person for another who is hurting. Bring balance in our lives as we shift our focus and set our eyes on you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Cast your burden on the Lord — he will support you! God will never let the righteous be shaken! - Psalm 55:22 (CEB)
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. -Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
When my spirit is faint, you know my way. - Psalm 142:3 New (NRSV)
I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me. - Jeremiah 29:11-13 (CEB)
Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:6-9 (CEB)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)