• 12 Biblical Portraits of Anxiety

    Posted on October 21st, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 7:

    A Dozen Biblical Portraits of Anxiety


    Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF. For part five, visit: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt. For part six, please go here: http://bit.ly/19vCXx.


    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love?

    Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.


    The Bible Is Relevant


    Some people talk about “making the Bible relevant.”


    We don’t make the Bible relevant. The Bible is the most relevant book ever written.


    In fact, we have to work hard to make the Bible irrelevant. We have to work hard to make the Bible boring.


    Other people talk about the sufficiency of the Scriptures. I believe 100% that the Bible is sufficient. However, far too many people fail to link the sufficiency of Scripture with the relevancy of Scripture.


    We should never talk about the sufficiency of Scripture without also emphasizing the relevancy of Scripture.


    The Relevancy of the Bible and Anxiety


    What does all of this have to do with an anatomy of anxiety?


    Some people think that the only biblical reference to anxiety is Philippians 4:6. They also tend to act like the only biblical counseling that we need to do for a person struggling with anxiety is to quote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”


    That’s an amazing verse, but the Bible is not simply a “concordance” on anxiety where we tell people, “take two verses and call me in the morning.”


    The Reality of the Bible: The Agony of Anxiety


    The Bible presents an amazing array of an anatomy of anxiety. I want to share just a small sampler of those to whet your appetite. These verses and passages realistically depict the agony of anxiety.


    The Bible is real and raw. It tells about real people with real problems. It presents real answers from a real God.


    One of the myriad beauties of the Bible is it teaches us that we are not alone. Others have suffered like we do now. And others have found victory. This sense of “universality”—that others are in the same boat, encourages us when life beats us down.


    A Dozen Biblical Samplers of the Experience of Anxiety


    If you are struggling with fear, panic, worry, or anxiety, consider the following samplers as just a few passages you can turn to that depict struggles with fear and anxiety in other godly men and women of the Bible.


    *Psalm 27: When fear assaults, David seeks God’s face.


    *Psalm 34: Read of David’s fear and broken-heartedness and God’s care and cure.


    *Psalm 46: Learn of God’s strength and ever-present help in our trouble and anxieties.


    *Psalm 55: David’s thoughts trouble him—ever been there? He is distraught—been there, done that! His heart is in anguish within him; terrors of death assail him. Fear and trembling beset him; horrors overwhelm him. He casts all his cares on Jehovah; He cries out to Jehovah in distress. He pleads for God’s sustaining care.


    *Psalm 91: This psalm has been called the 911 Psalm. When you experience terror and foreboding and feel like life is an unavoidable snare and trap, call God’s 911 hotline and find God to be your refuge and shield.


    *Psalm 109: David candidly speaks of his wounded heart (109:22). He is poor and needy, shaken and fading away (109:23). Attacked by others, he clings to God.


    *Psalm 116: The psalmist is overcome by trouble, afflicted, and dismayed, overly concerned, imprisoned by anguish. Where will rest be found?


    *Matthew 6:25-33: Jesus’ teaching on worry and trusting Father’s good heart.


    *Matthew 10:26-31: Jesus’ teaching on fear and trusting Father’s affectionate sovereignty.


    *John 14:1-31: Jesus’ loving message to His disciples and to us—when our hearts are troubled, when we feel orphaned and all alone, where do we find peace? Do not let your hearts be troubled.


    *Philippians 4:1-20: A classic passage on anxiety—but note that it is a passage in the context of a book. It is not simply a verse to quote like waving a magic wand.


    *1 Peter 5:5-11: Another classic New Testament passage in a wider context that includes not only casting our care on God who cares, but also discusses vigilance (5:8)—sound familiar?


    What About You? What About Your Friend?
    If you are struggling with fear, anxiety, panic, worry…don’t simply read these passages. Feel them. Live them. Experience them. Write a personal paraphrase of them. Memorize them. Meditate on them.


    If you are helping a spiritual friend who is battling anxiety…don’t simply preach these passages at your friend. Discuss these passages. Interact about them. Dialogue about them. Trialogue about them–you, your spiritual friend, and the Ultimate Spiritual Friend. Have your spiritual friend write a personal paraphrase of the passage.


    The Rest of the Story


    I invite you to return for part eight where we’ll share personal expressions of the agony of anxiety from others who have struggled through it. You are not alone.


    Then in part nine and beyond, we’ll explore some causes of anxiety.


    All of our discussion is moving toward the goal of finding God’s sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding care and cure for anxiety.

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