“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Anxiety and fear are two words that many people are using to describe their feelings during this tumultuous time. 2020 has been a whirlwind. These two words are multifaceted. Emotions help us to connect what is happening inside and outside ourselves. They are God-given and allow us to experience our world around us. But because of the Fall, emotions can be experienced in a fallen or sinful way and we must be ever diligent to guard our hearts and minds. We are not subject to our emotions – we can choose to not let them consume and control us.
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 12:25
We need to understand the types of Anxiety and Fear. They are very similar emotions and tend to occur hand in hand. Fear typically causes anxiety. One of the most basic forms of this complicated set of emotions is similar to a visceral response, a reaction of the autonomic nervous system when an individual has his amygdala and adrenal glands in a state of hyperactivity due to perceived danger. On one hand, it is a natural God-given response that helps us survive. It is normal to be afraid and anxious when you are facing a ravenous predator alone in the woods. It is normal to be afraid and anxious when a criminal comes to attack you. These emotions in their God-honoring state should drive us to be more alert and vigilant. It should drive us to RESPOND appropriately to the world around us. We must learn to take our thoughts and emotions captive and to place our trust in Christ, who in His Sovereignty has allowed this situation to come upon us, for our ultimate sanctification and His glory.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
During trauma, sometimes the body experiences Post Traumatic Stress Injury (it’s not really a disorder, its a perfectly natural response), in which the brain and the endocrine system stay in a hyper-alert state. These emotions of anxiety and fear are the natural result. For these cases, Biblical counseling is still needed. Though the body may be broken as a result of sin, we still are commanded to take every thought captive and to not be anxious. For some people, it is a battle for the mind minute by minute. These people may also benefit from medical or naturopathic care: neurofeedback therapy is a great option. But for the average person, who has not experienced Post Traumatic Stress injury, or similar physical ailment, the struggles with the emotions of Anxiety and Fear can be greatly benefitted through Biblical Counseling.
We are commanded to not be anxious (Luke 12:22-23) this even applies to when we are faced with dangerous situations. While the God-given emotion is good, our bodies are stills subject to the fall. We can engage in a fallen emotional response. A fallen, or sinful response is consumed with a “fear of man” or being afraid of not measuring up in the eyes of someone or being afraid of man’s opinion. A fallen emotional response of fear and anxiety can even be harmful to your health. It can place such tremendous stress on the body that can cause the heart to be strained and the immune system is weakened.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:7-8
When we dwell in sinful anxiety and fear – we have then taken our focus off God and placed it onto ourselves. We can see this in the story of Moses and God appearing to him in the burning bush. Moses was so focused on himself – his own weaknesses – that he failed to trust God was able to work through Him and provide a way for Moses to be obedient.
So how do we manage this delicate balance? This comes from a deeper understanding of who God is. For a great study on this topic, I recommend Paul Washers The Doctrine of God workbook.
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, For the help of His presence.” Psalm 42:5
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8