She was feeling tense. As she fumbled for her keys nervously, she dropped them on the dark surface of the concrete steps at her apartment door. Straining to see, she bent over and groped desperately around. Her hesitant fingers strayed to where she thought they had fallen. The indistinct and strange sounds around her faded from her notice. But then her own heartbeat and panting breath frightened her.
“What is wrong with me? Why am I so full of dread? There is no reason for this,” she chided herself. Still, she was unable to relax.
Fearing the worst, she stood up and turned to see if anyone was around; anyone watching her make such a fool of herself. As she turned, she heard the sound of her keys being kicked, then sliding swiftly on the rough surface, then landing off to the side of the steps.
“Oh, good grief,” she whined weakly. “God, why do You let me do stuff like this?”
Annie made her way back down the steps in the blackness of the night. Dropping to her hands and knees, she felt blindly along the damp earth. She was in search of the only means of accessing the relative safety of the inside of her own home. Feeling like the world was slowing down around her, she softly patted the ground in front of her. Nothing but pebbles and tufts of grass. Leaning as far as she dared into deep shadows, she moved her hands to the left. Still, no keys.
“How far could I have kicked those stupid things?” she wondered. She felt embarrassed. But why, there was literally nobody around. At least, not that she knew of. Yet she was just sure she could feel eyes peering at her in the darkness.
Her mind was running away with her again.
“Annie! Pull yourself together!” she muttered. Finally, as her hand brushed over them, she heard the familiar metallic clink of her keys. They were even further off to her right than she had envisioned that she might have kicked them. She grasped the key chain tightly and stumbled to her feet. She worked her way back around and up the steps to her door once again.
“Why do I have so many keys on this ring,” she wondered with useless self-loathing. After several disconcerting failures, stabbing various keys vainly at the keyhole, she finally found the right one. She aimed the teeth downward correctly. She shoved the shinny little miracle into the stubborn lock.
She twisted that blessed key to the left. Then to the right. Click! Quickly turning the cold doorknob, she pushed her way into the slightly less frightening blackness of her empty apartment. Annie hurriedly closed and relocked the door. Dropping her keys and purse onto the wooden floor, she leaned heavily against the inside of the door and sighed deeply, “Thank God!”
One battle won.
10,000 more to fight.
Annie’s anxiety always turned even the simplest task into a war with the universe.
anx·i·e·ty | aNGˈzīədē | noun (plural anxieties)
- a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome
In Psychiatry: a mental condition characterized by excessive apprehensiveness about real or perceived threats, typically leading to avoidance behaviors and often to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and muscle tension*
This morning in our online small group Bible study we discussed the options we have when trouble enters our awareness. The author we were following (A.W. Tozer) suggested that we can worry, or we can pray.
That sounds simple enough, right?
But it’s not that simple. We certainly should not worry without praying. But will we pray very often without first worrying?
Perhaps worrying is initially no more than an awareness of a problem and a desire to see it solved. At that stage, maybe it is only a test — or at the worst, a temptation. Of course it can (and often does) become much more than a temptation. Frequently our dilemmas quickly morph into monstrous fretting projects. Depending on the person, we can quickly go from real or potential problems right to wildly imagined possibilities which are highly unlikely.
This can’t be productive.
Shame solves nothing. Better planning only helps for a while.
Ian-the-introvert hides away and hopes that will fix everything. Nope.
Evan-the-extrovert pursues constant companionship and believes this will make all things well. No. The problem is only temporarily drowned out.
Anxiety is a universal problem. Some are paralyzed by it completely. Others live in denial. Many of us find some tolerable strategy for coping with it. But it’s there. As long as problems and dangers remain, so will anxiety; worry; fear.
So, what is the solution God offers?
Pray to HIM (Philippians 4:6-7).
Love Him (1st John 4:18).
Live in His power (2nd Timothy 1:7).
Believe in Him (John 14:1).
Find strength and courage in Him (Joshua 1:9).
Seek Him (Psalm 34:4).
Cry out to Him (Psalm 34:17).
Accept His consolation (Psalm 94:19).
Trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Invest in His kingdom (Luke 12:24-34).
Go to Him for rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
Accept His peace (John 14:27 & Colossians 3:15).
Take your cares to Him (Psalm 55:22).
Humble yourself under His mighty hand (1st Peter 5:6-8).
And, look to Him for help (Hebrews 13:5-6).
You may think, “That’s easier said than done.” Or maybe, “I don’t need a sermon, I need help.”
Too true. But if you and I do try all those biblical solutions and strategies and find NO comfort and NO balm for our soul in these things, then we will be the first ones God has thus failed.
What better solution can you offer? Medication? Therapy? Psychoanalysis? Those tools surely have their place, but they can’t offer the hope the Jesus offers.
Take your burdens to the Lord. Take Him your worries; your anxieties; your fears. He is able, willing, and ready to support and sustain you. Even if He shows you that you must continue to carry your burden, He will not make you bear it alone. He will yoke Himself with you to your load and will walk with you in your sorrows, pains, troubles, and problems.
Don’t give up. Don’t stumble through life as the perpetual Anxious Annie (or Andy).
*from DICTIONARY Version 2.3.0 (284) Copyright © 2005–2021 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.