Are you among the anxious?

 

We’re honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today by remembering his birth and his brief life; his impact on our nation has been lasting and appreciated. But the holiday will be over soon; then we get back into our 50-week sprint into the unknowns of 2023 that lie ahead. How are you feeling?

For a growing number of our countrymen, anxiety will be re-emerging on the heels of our year-end holidays’ good will. According to New York Times columnist Alex Williams, anxiety disorders are now more common than depression for American adults. Are you manifesting symptoms?

Anxiety is the mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous or unfamiliar situations. It’s the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event. A certain level of anxiety helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, it feels far from normal – it can be completely debilitating. Covid gets the attention of science; anxiety has no vaccination in circulation.

No prior generation has been more bombarded by headlines than ours. “Breaking news” has fractured the calm and compromised the peace of people whose list of risks grows through the day, every day. From unresolvable climate change to unrelenting political warfare – with new viral variants and threats of Russian nukes heaped-on for bad measure – the chances of the world offering hope on the horizon have dropped more than the value of the FTX Crypto exchange.

For some, their only antidote to anxiety is denial. Insulated from updates, they live unaware of the erosion of culture and the disappearance of common decency. Disconnected from the timeline of history advanced through Old and New Testament records, they embody what Peter said was coming: “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Status quo is their functional fiction; it allows them to wall their emotions against the tsunami of terror that would engulf people who live in the worst-case.

How will 2023 unfold in your world? Will you be in calm, or in conflict? Is the alternative to anxiety only possible from shutting down your updates and pretending that things just aren’t that bad?

Not much has changed in 2000 years; Paul’s counsel to those he cared for – people he evangelized in Philippi whom he organized into a community of faith – was salve for their hearts. He wrote with the sensitivity of a loving spiritual dad: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

For earthlings without a heavenly Father, eroding conditions would – understandably – create either denial or despair. For people who have become functional transients – living temporarily in a devolving world on the way to their eternal heavenly Home – these are times that validate God’s gracious disclosure of the ultimate solution to life’s trying times.

Solomon offers wise counsel to use as an agenda for the year before us: A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?  To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God…” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26).

Find satisfaction in God’s generous provisions. Exercise faith in the face of hard times. Expect wisdom, knowledge and happiness to be yours, without being able to explain those assets to the people frozen by fear and neutralized by worry. Get ready for a year of His providence for you!

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5 thoughts on “Are you among the anxious?”

  1. I must admit to the feelings of malaise (a term from another era) over the many issues the world is facing. That coupled with the recent dreary weather, taxes due and the annual prognostications of what comes next!

    The Good News is that faith is not a feeling, and it is God’s faith that I rely on, not my own.
    Thanks for passing on Peter’s observations, Paul’s sound advice and Solomon’s wisdom. God’s word and His promise never fail!

    I’m good with that.

  2. You might consider these verses:

    Hebrews 13:5; 1st Peter 5:7; 91st Psalm

    When things get rough, they help me…sometimes after reading them 50 times.

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