The weight of anxiety in this world today is palpable.
Is it any wonder?
We live in a world with so many homes shaken by loss, concerned for provision and mounting student and credit card debt and the constant barrage of should’s and would’s in marriage and parenting; a world with emptier churches and full addiction clinics; a world where terrorism knocks on the front door. In this world, the sheer amount of graphic images and social media we take in each day may heighten our internal anxiety meters to red alert all by themselves.
You may not struggle with anxiety yourself, but you see the fruit of it all around you. It seems like a problem with a pretty simple solution- trust.
So why does it wreck the hearts and minds of so many Christians?
It would seem that casting cares isn’t as simple as we’d like to make it out to be.
When someone is anxious we often share a small half-sentence found in 1 Peter 5:6-7. I’m sure you can find the familiar words below:
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.
While this Scripture, is certainly applicable, what if this verse actually perpetuates the problem of anxiety for many anxious Christians and non-Christians?
What if it actually creates anxiety rather than relieves it?
The problem is not in the Scripture itself, but maybe in our application of the text. Just because it says anxiety, doesn’t make it the best verse on the topic.
Unintentionally, we may reach out to someone in compassion, but if all we do is share this verse, the silent undertone of the conversation is
“pray harder, believe stronger, have more faith.”
This verse is given in the context of community, church community in particular. Casting care is done in the safety of relationship, not individually, not as a directive, and not as a pat answer, but as an ongoing connection of two souls, bringing the anxiety of brokenness before the Lord…together.
More appropriately, every single one of us in this faith walk stand every day as the father in the book of Mark – seeking healing from the troubles of this world, from illness, from disease, from brokenness:
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
Christ Jesus took on the cross for us, not so that we would have no trouble and all fear would be gone.
God uses even this: anxiety, fear, lack of trust, turmoil.
Anxiety, like all suffering, can be useful in that it points us to our own need for the Savior. It’s like little alarm bells in our bodies that tell us – You were made for more than this life. Heaven will come one day when all this trouble will be no more.
He took on the cross so that whatever fear we may have in this life may be given to Him, shared with Him, and cared for in the Body of Christ, where shame has no place, within the context of eternal life won, the tomb empty, and hope reigning. Allowing the church, the pastor’s office, or a simple conversation over coffee to be a safe place to share the burden decreases the shame of having anxiety for the one struggling. It makes seeking spiritual care, counseling, medication, or any other treatment so much easier and less shaming also.
We were made for casting cares, yes, but deeper than that, we were made for connection – sharing the Word, sharing Hope, being honest with one another about our own struggles, and sharing the grace of Christ in the midst of the mess.
Coming January and February 2018 – a new series on the I Love My Shepherd Podcast –
The Truth about Mental Health: Anxiety.
Episodes include topics such better defining anxiety, creating a framework of theology for anxiety, helpful passages in spiritual care for anxiety, and Embrace it or Escape it: practical suggestions for anxiety care. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.