By Craig Mercer
March 12, 2021
The question people commonly want answered consists of four words:
"Is my anxiety sin?"
I want to give you a definitive answer right now. You ready?
You see, as a counselor, I want to be sensitive as to what is motivating that question the first place.
Frequently, this question is birthed in the midst of a difficult situation where the person is feeling overwhelmed and has a sense of urgency to understand what they may be doing to contribute to the situation, which is a good desire. But a key thing to remember is this:
"While we want answers quickly, quick answers are rarely the best answers nor the most helpful in the long run."
Take Susan who goes the doctor because she's struggling with her weight and she asks the doctor the question, "am I overweight because I eat too much?" The obvious response is to say "yes," but if that is all a doctor says, it could lead to an unhelpful conclusion that she just needs to change her diet and exercise more.
There could be complicating factors. For example, Hypothyroidism where the hormones are not working the way that they should. The hormones slow down the metabolism and, therefore, the weight increases. It also could be Cushing Syndrome. This condition results when the adrenal glands are not working properly and there's too much cortisol being produced. You see, if Susan just focuses on diet and exercise, it will not render the desired results.
So while we love to simplify, categorize, and solve struggles quickly, we must avoid understating or overstating an issue as best we can. Like Einstein said:
"Everything should be made as simple as possible not simpler."
You see, we don't want to flatten an issue for our own convenience or comfort, but we want to work hard to give a biblically thoughtful and helpful response.
So, back to the original question, "is my anxiety sin?"
Let's re-frame the question in the following way:
Is my anxiety and a fact of living in a world corrupted by sin? Then the answer is definitely, "yes."
"For we know that the whole creation has been growing together in the pains of childbirth until now." - Romans 8:22
So, by re-framing the question, we broaden the context and provide opportunities to go deeper into the nuances of what sparked the question in the first place. And, as I mentioned in the previous video, we want to avoid being reductionistic in our approach.
We can minimize the chance of that by considering three things.
The theological underpinnings:
What truths has God already provided that I need to understand and embrace?
The spiritual implications:
What's happening in my mind and soul and why?
The physiological effects:
What's happening in my brain and body and why?
So, while it is possible that a person's anxiety is sin, it's also probable that it's not that cut and dry. Either way, we all need to cultivate Anxiety Resilience: the ability to engage daily life holistically despite adverse circumstances and emotions.
So what do we need to look at to get to the heart understanding anxiety and start to cultivate this? We need to take a step back and look at the larger category of fear and its origins, which we will do in the next video.