Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Anxiety

I sometimes seem to live with a knot in my stomach the size of a football, at present though it has diminished to a tennis ball! Worse still, at times I am not even sure why anxiety is gnawing away at me. I thought this was normal and something I simply had to manage (via sleep, triathlon, time off, family time, etc).

However, yesterday whilst ironing a huge pile of laundry, I listened to Mark Driscoll on a A rebels guide to joy in anxiety. It was so helpful, if only to be reminded that it is normal but it is not reasonable for a Christan to stay in anxiety (Phil 4:6). He made a brilliant statement 'Anxiety is an attitude to be repented of and not a symptom to be managed'. For me I needed to be reminded again who God is and to live out the command 'do not be anxious about anything but to bring my petitions to God'.

Please do listen to his message and let me know what you think.

8 comments:

Richard Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Walker said...

I have a question for the great Driscoll.

Should Jesus have repented after sweating drops of blood in Gethsemane in his anguish before he went to the cross? The answer of course is no, but then what's the difference between his anxiety and ours? (Maybe he answers that in the sermon, I haven't listened to it yet.)

You could illustrate the same from Paul's life in 2 Cor.11:28 "And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." (ESV)

Paul doesn't then follow it with a statement of "...But I'm working on it and with God's help one day I'll offload this sin of anxiety..."

Paul was anxious in this matter, because he loved God and he loved the church. (2 Cor.11:2 "For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.")

Until the day when that bride is presented, he would always have the anxiety.

Saying all anxiety is bad, is too blunt a statement for me and smacks of prosperity gospel. It also seems to ignore the fact that we live in the "not yet" of God's eternal purpose. We wait with groanings for the glory that will be revealed on the day of Christ Jesus.

For me saying anxiety is evil is like saying money is evil. Money itself is morally neutral, it's what you do with it and the value you place on it that makes it a sin for you or not. The same with anxiety. What is at the root of it and how does it shape the daily choices you make?

Being anxious about what people think of us or whether God will provide etc are clearly things which need to be repented of by us all. But living with the anxiety of proclaiming and living the gospel as we are poured out like a drink offering in the service of God (there's an image to ponder) leads us in our anxiety to prayer, thanksgiving and praise as we look for God's deliverance with all our heart and hope.

Psalm 90 relects some of this tension well for me.

Sean Green said...

I think you need to listen to the content of preaching through Philippians. Either way you need to handle the ref in Phil 4 to not be anxious!

Pippa Simkins said...

Yippee I'm back on broadband!!
(poor you Sean, you'll soon be regretting my return! - only joking!)

the statement -
'Anxiety is an attitude to be repented of and not a symptom to be managed'

i struggle with this statement as i don't think anxiety is always a sin and the statement implies that it is. Sometimes anxiety is organic (i.e. to do with problems in the chemical in your brain)though this is not always true i know. Not all anxiety states need to be repented of - some need GOd to heal as the individual's mental state is out of control. I think the church needs to be careful how they tackle subjects like this - assuming that 1 in 5 of the population may suffer from depression or anxiety some time in their life we need to be clear on our teaching. I think that worry and anxiety are two different things. However I will listen to the sermon and let you know my thoughts before commenting further! pips

Anita McCrum said...

Hi! I really identified with that ‘knot in your stomach’ feeling! I too often try to manage this feeling rather than taking authority over it. I often spend fruitless time worrying which could have been spent reminding myself of the fact that God loves me and He holds me in His hand.

My anxiety often reflects self-doubt about my capacity to cope with situations…but do I not have a Father who asks me to cast my burdens on Him? Does He not tell me to lean on Him rather than on my own strength, knowledge, understanding?!

anx•i•e•ty: care, concern, solicitude
“an eager desire”, “consideration of heavy responsibilities”, “active concern for another’s well-being”

I loved Richard’s comments on the ‘anxiety of proclaiming and living the gospel’, ‘groanings for the glory’, ‘divine jealousy’, ‘anxiety to pray and praise’, ‘looking to God with all our hope and heart’…these are great things to talk and think about!

I agree we should be stirred and eager, raring to go with the Gospel. We should be anxious in this sense to see people saved and the kingdom of God come. But I’m not sure we should be anxious in the sense that Sean was describing …should we be motivated by apprehension? Do these groaning equate with feelings of uneasiness? Does God give you a ‘knot in your stomach’ or a feeling of dread, or a sense of worry when he prompts you to pray or praise or proclaim the gospel? Or does this eager desire and sense of urgency to ‘proclaim and live the gospel’ come from the love and compassion that he has put in our hearts?

Is it not true to say that God wants to set us free from existing in a state of persistent apprehension/fear, walking through life with a heavily burdened mind, letting worries cause us sleepless nights?

Thank you Pip for your fresh perspective too! I acknowledge that some individuals may suffer with a relatively permanent state of worry and nervousness occurring in a variety of mental disorders. My understanding of mental health disorders is very rudimentary, but I understand that individuals suffering with anxiety disorders often find therapy which helps them to change thought patterns and learn behaviours such as relaxation very effective.

Without meaning to offend by trying to simplify something so complex as a mental health disorder, I believe that changing the way one thinks by soaking in truth about God and learning how to take control of thoughts, fears and behaviours that say that ‘God is not big enough’ are helpful for overcoming anxiety in any person’s life.

Is it not worth leading our friends to consider how their attitudes contradict God’s Word, or encouraging them to acknowledge that with God by their side they have nothing to fear, however much their mind is troubled or their fears irrational…then letting God’s healing power do the rest?

Anita

Sean Green said...

Very helpful Anita - and insightful! Great rounding up of all that has been said!

Viv Simkins said...

Pippa Here.
Anita you rock! I love you summary - hey who says you don't do debates and discussions! I thought your comment was great and agree with Sean - it was well said! Also i think your on top form when you talk about 'changing the way one thinks by soaking in the word of God' - even someone suffering from clinical anxiety needs to do this and is not simply exempt from this approach because of a recognised illness. Amen Sister!!

Viv Simkins said...

p.s this is PIPPA commenting under her mums google!