Humanity has grown steadily more fast paced, more driven by effectiveness, and more readily living at 140 characters or less. While our productivity has seemingly sped up, we have begun to see the impact this has on our lives. An American Psychological Association study looked at reasons college students sought out counseling, and between 2007 and 2013 there was an increase of about 10% (36.5% to 46.5%) among those who sought help specifically for anxiety. Another report done by the CCMH (Center for Collegiate Mental Heath) reported in 2014 that over the course of 3 years there was nearly an 8% increase in the number of American students seeking help at mental health counseling centers for anxiety, depression, and other disorders(1). This is happening in all stages of life and among all types of social groups.
So as Christians, what is our response to this growing tide of issues, swelling against our students and ourselves? In some cases, I believe it is a medical issue that needs to be diagnosed and addressed properly. I won’t go into detail on that point because I am no expert. But I do want to focus on the similarly important spiritual reality of our anxiety.
First, we need to address the truth that we are not the owners of our future. Disney and countless other sources from pop songs to TV shows have told us this is so. But as anyone who has experienced unexpected tragedy or difficult circumstances knows, what comes in life is often outside of our ability to control. There are situations that take place that are simply beyond our ability to manage such as death, sickness, loss, pain, failure, etc. If we do not understand that life is outside of our hands, we will continue hoping that our efforts will be enough. We will hope that our ability, our understanding, our skills, our effort, or our personality will be enough. And we will never find rest from worry. And thus, we need to understand that we are not the ultimate definers of our future.
The second truth, and the reason why the first truth is such good news to us is because there is someone who does this work for us. In Psalm 16 verse 9 we are told that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Job 12:10 tells us that “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” God, our sovereign Creator and the Sustainer of our lives, is in control of what comes. Over and over scripture makes this crystal clear (see also Proverbs 19:21, Romans 8:28, Psalm 22:28). Now granted, this does not provide for us an easy or quick fix to anxiety. Many attest to understand this truth of God’s sovereignty and I understand that the struggle and the toll that it can take on us is not easily overcome. It can and will be messy. But through Jesus Christ, God beckons us to entrust ourselves entirely to Him by faith, in order that we may find rest from our worry. This is why Christ, who is God of very God, has the authority to tell us “come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28). He calls us to rest in Him who alone can ensure peace for us.
As we find anxiety creeping into our daily lives, may we lead ourselves and others to heed Christ’s beckoning call to cling to and rest in the Father’s sure foundation. May He be where we cast our fears and anxieties, knowing that He cares and is able to deliver us. And though we find moments where we fail by falling into worry, let us remember that we have a God who never does.
This should be the message we readily offer to the broken and hurting world which is worn from attempting to provide the rest it can never assure. More than ever, the world needs this message. May we point our anxious and hurting neighbors, family, children, friends, and ourselves to the steadfast peace which comes from knowing the One in control. For only through faith can we set our eyes upon Christ and “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” (Romans 8:18). It’s only by seeing the surety of Christ that the things which malign and oppress will begin growing “strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace,” (“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”).
1.) source: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/09/cover-pressure.aspx