By Craig Mercer
March 5, 2021
Let's be frank; anxiety is a big deal.
In fact, according to the World Health Organization, that encompass surveys gathered from over 29 countries and all of the regions of the world, anxiety is the number one issue. That's around 18.1% of the world's population.
So let me break that down for you, for a moment. Currently, there is approximately 7.8 billion people on the earth. That means that 1.4 billion people are effected by this issue. That's right, 1.4 billion people currently experiencing varying degrees of anxiety. And the odds are high that you are one of them.
In the three top difficulties worldwide, it was discovered that anxiety was No. 1, mood disorders were no. 2, and substance disorders were no. 3. We are just going to talk about anxiety for this moment.
Here's the thing. We are simultaneously both "Anxiety Susceptible" (meaning 'I can't stop it') and "Anxiety Averse" (meaning 'I don't want it'). But, I think that we need to understand something: making our goal the elimination of anxiety from our life is an unobtainable dream. There are real threats and dangers in this world that ought to cause us to feel anxiety and fear, as weak and fragile human beings. There are also perceived and imagined dangers that our minds even conjure up. Yet, BOTH create the same mental, emotional, and physiological responses that come with anxiety and fear.
So, we can't avoid life's problems. We can't evade the things that will distress us. While the absence of anxiety is desirable, it is not fully obtainable in this lifetime. So, a better goal is to learn how to cultivate "Anxiety Resilience."
What do I mean by that?
Well, simply this: the ability to engage daily life holistically despite adverse circumstances and emotions. You see, the bottom line here is that we cannot be completely anxiety free due to living in a fallen world, but we can grow in our Anxiety Resilience. And those of us who are followers of Jesus have a lot of incredible resources to do so. In coming videos, we are going to dive into what God has provided for us.
But, back to painting the bigger picture here. Anxiety often emerges from the interplay of the Psychological, Physical, and Spiritual makeup of a person. Therefore, we must avoid being reductionistic if we are to effectively understand and cultivate Anxiety Resilience. We need to understand that there is a brain-body connection as well as soul-body connection. This requires at least a basic understanding of how the body responds to danger whether real or perceived. It also requires us to understand how our heart motivations effect shape our desires and effect our emotions and perceptions.
So, how do we define "Anxiety?"
Well, one way of putting it is this: mental, emotional, and physiological responses to real or perceived danger.
Dr. Ed Welch, counselor with CCEF, says this, "underneath our fears and anxieties are personal desires that are at risk...Fears identify what we want, what is important to us, and what we desire."
I think this is important. Let's sit with this for a moment.
And so, that's why it is important for us to engage and understand this topic of anxiety because it helps us understand what is going on internally.
Dr. John Piper say this, "anxiety seems to be an intense desire for something, accompanied by a fear of the consequences of not receiving it."
Now, there are five key pressure points commonly experienced in life where this presses in on us. One of the big categories is, obviously, finances; our bank balance, retirement accounts, investments create quite a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Others include relationships, health issues, career, and societal issues.
Anxiety can be experienced in a spectrum of severity. From mild uncomfortability all the way to acute panic and paralysis. We need to work hard to overcome the ditches of oversimplification and reductionism. One side can say "it's just sin and you need to repent of it." The other can say "it's just the body, you need to medicate it." There very well may be aspects of BOTH sides happening simultaneously. It's often not an 'either or' but an 'and' issue.
So, what does God provide to engage these pressure points?
The meta-categories that I want to mention here are:
His Word- which provides us with the ability to have the right perspective, direction, and clarity
His Spirit- to illuminate, comfort, and empower us
His people- to journey, support, and grow with us
We are not alone as Christ followers. And, we are not without hope.
Next time, we are going to hone in on understanding anxiety from a biblical perspective. We will see how God gives us a life-giving perspective to engage this issue.
Video by CraigMercer:Twelvestones.org