“Be anxious for nothing…” reads Philippians 4:6, a verse that most people consider to be very nice and virtually impossible. A news story just popped up about a major politician in Washington who has stated that he’s “giving up anxiety for Lent,” and got a huge backlash for insensitively implying that anxiety can be given up by choice. Thank goodness the politically correct police are here to protect the feelings of anyone who would be offended by a command of the Bible!
Like it or not, Jesus’ command indicates that being anxious is a choice. If it’s not dealt with, it grows into a monster over time. What makes it a monster is when we embrace the notion of being a victim, that our fears are beyond control. For anyone with a shaky faith, embracing that notion seems so logical, as if it’s the only option. What’s worse, the notion becomes a security blanket, which is why many are offended by the good news that they can get free from anxiety by faith. There’s something about feeling victimized that creates a warped sense of comfort, of entitlement to pity, which is a red flag for the presence of a demonic spirit. Whenever something destructive feels so good, there is always an evil spiritual force behind it.
In my experience, most ordinary people live in a mild state of anxiety every waking hour. They can have happy moments, enjoy family gatherings, work productively and love their kids while underlying fears eat away at them. It’s like living by a highway, while the dull drone of traffic and exhaust fumes continually pollute you with stressful sounds and smells. You block it all out, until the day you drive to the countryside and realize how peaceful the world can really be.
Many Christians are living with that constant drone of anxiety and fear as the undercurrent of their lives, just trying to block it out. Because their prayer requests haven’t yet materialized, they imagine that God is saying no, and expects them to just tolerate anxiety, to fret and worry and endure by blocking out their fears and shoving them into the background. Sorry, that’s not faith.
Never, in any place in the Bible, does God teach us to tolerate stress or worry. Never. Be alert and repent from evil, yes – but when it comes to fears, God’s favorite line is, “Do not fear!” or “Fear not!” or “Do not be afraid!” He expects us to take the initiative to reject fear and anxiety. He sees a fighting power within even the weakest of us, but the fight is won by using His Spirit so we don’t have to do it all on our own. If God commands us to reject fear and anxiety, the logical next step is to view them as spiritual enemies that we have authority to defeat. But those who embrace anxiety as a security blanket will never be able to both fight and love that enemy.
Think about it. Those pills you may be stashing in your medicine cabinet are not your friends. The urge to get a drink after work to unwind is just a form of feeding your anxiety like a pet. The cutting words you spew at your spouse or children are totally unjustified, no matter what they did. The emotions driving your poor choices are enemies that want to drag you further from God and further from your healing. Don’t use the excuse that it’s too hard to fight. God promises to give you His strength, and that strength comes from choosing to believe His promises despite your feelings. It comes from rebuking demonic emotions and recognizing that those anxieties are not just your own logic speaking, but a spiritual force who is lying to you. Find a pastor today who can to teach you to fight effectively. Don’t take offense at the good news he has for you, and don’t tolerate evil dictating your life any longer.
Let go of anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it surely leads to evil deeds. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the earth. Psalm 37:8-9, MEV