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Use Anxiety to Your Advantage

Anxiety is the most predominant form of mental illness in our country, plaguing both young and old, showing up as post-traumatic stress syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, even phobias and generalized anxiety disorder.

We all struggle from time to time, whether as a way of life or due to particular circumstances beyond our control. It brings about physical reactions like shaking, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, frustration and anger. Even depression can be linked to a series of anxieties we experience in life.

Culturally, we are a nervous wreck, and no one is immune to it.

Jesus Heals Anxious Hearts

My struggle with anxiety started early. As a child, I experienced vivid dreams that made my heart race. Even thinking of them today brings on certain emotions. The night terrors came on suddenly and without escape. I was trapped for half an hour after waking, held captive in terror.

Eventually, a counselor helped me to break free from those dreams. But as an adult, anxiety returned in the form of insomnia. Some nights I wake up completely drenched in sweat. An average night’s sleep for me is about four hours. I wake up at two, three, four in the morning and never go back to sleep.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve read the text of Matt 6.25–34″>Matthew 6:25–34 hundreds of times, as I have not only wrestled with the anxiety, but also with embarrassment and shame for having the struggle in the first place. There, I discovered that Jesus cares about our anxious hearts. And he teaches us how to direct our minds and hearts in order to please God.

Jesus Shifts Our Focus

Understanding the fears bedded deep within being humans, Jesus starts the discussion with a bold command, then adds reasoning we can all grasp.

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? (Matt 6.25–26″>Matthew 6:25–26)

Look up. There are five hundred million hungry birds flying around. They don’t sow, reap or gather into barns, and yet your Father in heaven knows their need and feeds every single one of them. If God feeds animals, essentially his pets, will he not feed you?

You, whom God created in his image. You, whom he designed to be unique from the creatures of this earth. You, whom he has placed his spirit within. Look up and remember that he cares for you and will provide for you. God designed you, knows you and wants to guide you into a fruitful and productive life.

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Vince Miller founded the men’s discipleship and leadership ministry Resolute. He writes at the ministry’s website and is author of The Generous Life. He lives with his wife, Christina, and their three children in St. Paul, Minnesota.