Each one of us has faced anxiety at some point in our life. For some, this is a feeling that comes often and for others maybe not so much.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, anxiety is defined as:
“apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill.”
Another definition of anxiety from the same source describes it as:
“an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it.”
There are many circumstances that can bring about a spirit of anxiousness. Some we can control while others are outside of our control. Finances, broken relationships, loss of a loved one, world events, and work are just a few.
In Matthew 6:25-26, the writer addresses anxiety,
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
It is clear that anxiety is rooted in our sin nature and directly connected to the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis. It is also clear that God doesn’t desire that we live with anxiety.
In Proverbs 12:25 King Solomon says “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.”
We know in our mind that anxiety isn’t healthy and most importantly it isn’t God-honoring. In light of this truth, we must seek God’s Word for the remedy.
In 1 Peter 5:6-7 Peter encourages believers to
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.
Is concern different from anxiety? Concern can lead to anxiety but it could also be different from anxiousness depending on how we handle it.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines concern as “marked interest or regard usually arising through a personal tie or relationship.”
In 1 Peter 4:10, Peter wrote to fellow believers saying,
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
Peter is expressing happiness in the fact that his brothers and sisters in Christ were concerned about his well-being.
After reviewing this Scripture and several more I believe that you and I can have concern over certain matters without allowing our concern to morph into anxiety which can dominate and drain our mental, emotional, and spiritual strength.
Furthermore, it is healthy to have concern for those we care most about and matters we care deeply about.
I want to encourage us to have less anxiety and more concern. Anxiety makes us less effective. Concern should drive us toward positive change. One caveat: we must align our concern with the concerns of God.
It would be counter-productive to turn our unhealthy anxiety into concern but have concern about all the wrong things.
Here are a few Scriptures that can direct our concern more specifically.
Loving the Lord (Luke 10)
Loving your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10)
Disciple-making (Matthew 28)
Being salt and light (Matthew 5)
God is concerned about eternity. In the gospels we see where God sent His son Jesus Christ to live a sinless life and die a brutal death on a sinner’s cross so that you and I could have eternal life should we believe. This is what should be our focus.