Welcome to ReCreate Ministry. Our mission is making and growing authentic followers of Christ. I hope you all had a great new year. How many of you made resolutions for the new year? I know a lot of people try to lose weight at the start of the year. Statistics show that January 2nd is the busiest day of the year at most gyms. Some of us decide we’re going to start spending less time on our phones, or we’re going to try to be a better friend, person, husband, wife, father, mother, you name it. There have been several studies done over the years that talk about it, but a new study shows that most people give up on their resolutions by February. Today, we’re starting a new, 3-week series called Desperate, and we’re going to be discussing some things we should resolve to deal with in the new year. This week, we are going to talk about anxiety. If you’ve been with us for very long, you probably know my story. Christmas Eve of 2017, I was on my way home from Rockwall when I was involved in an accident with a man who was in the middle of the road that took his life. There’s a lot more to the story, and if you’re interested, you can go back and read our message The Gift of Emptiness. https://recreateministry.org/2018/05/21/the-gift-of-emptiness/ Over the last several months, I have felt a great deal of anxiety over that accident, especially the closer it got to the anniversary of the accident. I lost quite a bit of sleep over the month of December, and was almost unable to sleep at all during the nighttime hours. It’s gotten better over the last couple of weeks, but leading up to Christmas, I was miserable. Anxiety had taken complete control of me.
The Bible talks a lot about anxiety. Jesus touched heavily on it in the sermon known as the Sermon On The Mount. Our main text today comes from Matthew 6:25 – 34 (NIV), which says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow? They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” There are several things that this text, and many others are saying to us, but the first one is this:
Now, I know that most of us are not worried about what we will eat or the clothes we wear. Most of us have these things, and a lot of us have them in abundance, but in Jesus’ day, these were among the primary concerns that people had. For most of us, our worries are about things like paying bills, moving up in our careers or finding a new job, getting our kids in the right daycare, or on the right sports team, or in the right after-school programs. Some of us worry about finding someone to spend our lives with, or we worry if we’ve chosen the right person to be with forever. Some worry about where they want to live, or what kind of car they want to drive. The same principle that Jesus taught still applies to us today. Whatever we’re going through, we can trust God to provide our needs. That job that you have? That was given to you by God, and it was part of His plan for your life to provide for your needs. That relationship you’re in? Look to God to show you if it’s in His plan for you to spend your life with them or not. The great theologian Charles Spurgeon said “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of it’s sorrows, but only empties today of it’s strength.” If we spend all of our time worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, or may not happen, we miss out on the blessings we have in the present.
The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) put out a survey that talked about anxiety in the United States. It said that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the population every year. More people are on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicine than ever before. It also said that people with anxiety disorder are 3-5 times more likely to go to the doctor, and they are 6 times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly half of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder of some kind. I won’t go over all the different types of anxiety disorders, because there are many, but I wanted to give some statistics on the 3 main types, because I know that many people do not understand this.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD affects 6.8 million people, and women are twice as likely to suffer as men. This disorder often co-occurs with major depression.
Affects 6 million adults, and women are twice as likely to suffer from this as men.
Social Anxiety Disorder
This disorder affects more than 15 million adults, and is equally common among men and women, but it also affects many people in their teens, starting as early as age 13. In some cases, it can start even younger.
C.S. Lewis once said “Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defeat of faith. I don’t agree with that at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.” There are a lot of people who think of anxiety or depression as a lack of faith, rather than an actual disorder. Many of them mean well, but they don’t understand exactly what anxiety is, and so they write it off as unbelief, when this is often not the case. Jesus gives us some great encouragement in dealing with anxiety in the book of John. John 14:27 (NLT) says “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” This actually brings me to my second point.
The command not to worry about everyday life does not imply complete lack of concern, nor does it tell us that we shouldn’t work to supply our own needs. Instead, Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t worry about the things that we know we can trust God to provide. Since God has given us life and a body, He will also provide for our sustenance. How many times have we tried to make something happen on our own, only to see it utterly fail? I don’t know about you guys, but I can think of more examples than we have time this week to discuss. There have been times in my life when I wanted something so bad, whether it be a job, a relationship, or even for my circumstances to change. After my accident, and the events that followed, I longed for my life to change. There was a time when I even thought it would be better if my life had ended. Thankfully, God sent people into my life who made me realize that I was not alone, even if I felt that way.
Hebrews 13:6 (NIV) says “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” When our confidence is in Christ, nothing that happens on earth can break our spirits. We are not guaranteed worldly possessions, but we are guaranteed that Christ will help us in our suffering. God watches over His people, and He provides for our needs. No matter how busy or stressful our lives may be, He is always there to be our strength, our refuge, and our helper. This is actually the only time in the New Testament that God is referred to as a helper. When we are confident that God is our helper, we don’t need to be afraid. If the king of the universe is on our side, what can mere mortals do? The answer is nothing at all!!!!! This is not to say that people cannot take our possessions, mistreat us, throw us into prison, or even kill us, but they cannot hurt our souls or affect our salvation. My favorite quote of all time is one by J.R.R. Tolkien. It says “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Why would you choose to spend your time worrying about things that may or may not happen, especially when you know that many of them are out of your hands? I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of this for most of my life, and it’s something I still struggle with, but I am constantly being reminded of how good God is. This brings me to my last point.
How many of you, when you were kids, were afraid of the monsters under your bed, or the shadows on your wall? Your parents always came in and checked outside the window or under the bed for you, then said some encouraging words to make you feel better so you could go to sleep. If you were a kid or teenager in the late 90’s/early 2000’s that was part of a children’s church or youth group, you may even remember the Veggie Tales song
After the accident, I had bigger monsters than just the ones under the bed or outside the window. There were many nights where I thought that I had no reason to continue living. The weight of what happened, and the anxiety about my future, were too much for me. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) became my refuge in those dark times. It says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” You see, the thing that I realized was that I was not alone, no matter how big the fears I had were. Just like the song says, God really is bigger than the boogeyman, regardless of what your boogeyman may be. I don’t know what your anxieties are. You may be nervous about a potential layoff or job loss, and how you will pay the bills in the coming months. Maybe you have a loved one who is sick, and you expect that, any day now, you will get the call that they are gone. Maybe you’re dealing with a failing marriage or relationship, and you’re unsure of what the future holds for you. Whatever it is that is causing your anxiety, I can promise you that it is never too big for God. I love what George Bernard Shaw says about anxiety. He says “People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than their burdens are attached to them.” How true is that? How often do we focus so much time and energy on things that really end up not being nearly as big of a deal as we make them out to be in our heads? I’m not saying that the things that you’re struggling with aren’t a big deal, or that they don’t deserve your attention. I’m simply saying that anything that deserves your attention should be given over to God to handle. As hard as it may be, there is freedom when we give our anxiety over to God. He’s the only one who is strong enough to carry it, and He will never turn us down when we ask Him for His help. Let’s thank Him for that.
I thank You today that You are willing to carry our burdens; that You care enough about us so much that You are willing to take on our worries as Your own. Lord, I pray for those who are struggling with anxiety and depression right now. I pray that You give them peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding. Father, as we go into this next week, with the challenges that it holds for us, I pray that we would look to You to give us the strength to deal with all that life has for us, and that we would be strong enough through it all to continue pointing others to You. I pray that You would make Your strength so evident to others that they would wonder what makes us different, and we could share Your grace and love with them, so that they may come to know You better. Most of all, I thank You for Jesus, and for the grace that You have given us through His death. It’s in His Name I pray.
Next week, we will be continuing our Desperate series by looking at Depression, and what scripture has to say about it. If any of you are dealing with anxiety or depression, please reach out to us. We would love to explain further how being a follower of Christ can help you deal with your anxieties and/or depression. If you’re reading this, and you’ve never had that peace in your life, and you would like to know how you can, reach out to us. Have a blessed week!!!!!