Recently I was reminded that there is a cure for anxiety. Actually, to be honest, I didn't really discover this cure myself. I had to learn it from someone else. And I'm still learning it. Do you know what it is? Humility. That's right, humility is the cure for anxiety.
This isn't my own idea. And in fact, I have to admit that when I first learned this, I didn't even quite understand the connection. What does humility have to do with anxiety? Yet there must be a connection. In 1 Peter 5, Peter speaks about humility in one breath, and about dealing with anxiety in the very next breath.
To begin with, what is anxiety? Anxiety is my natural response to the troubles that I face in this life. Maybe itís troubles with finances, troubles with work, troubles with health, troubles with children. From Godís Word, I know that because of sin everyone will face troubles in this life. And anxiety is our response to those troubles. When we are faced with troubles in the present or the future, we start worrying about them. How will I cope after being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness? Or, how am I going to get by financially after losing my job?
But why do I get anxious in situations like these? Itís because I donít know exactly whatís going to happen. If I knew exactly what was going to happen, and if it was all under my control, then thereís no need for anxiety! Anxiety is only there because it's not all under my control. Because I am somewhat helpless.
Isnít that why we get anxious? We don't want to be helpless. We want it to be in our hands. We want to work it out by ourselves. We want it all under our control. And isnít that pride? Pride: wanting to do it alone, handle it alone, control it alone. Yes, if Iím honest with myself, I have to admit that at the root of anxiety, is sinful pride.
Pride leads to anxiety. And anxiety leads to being weighed down. Itís like that old saying, being ďsick with worry.Ē Not being in control, not knowing what is going to happen, eats away at us. Worries wear us down, and wear us out. We canít think of anything else. ďHow am I going to solve this problem? Where am I going to get the money to pay for that? Whatís going to happen to me now?Ē Worries are heavy, and carrying them is like carrying a heavy sack around all day. Theyíre a heavy burden, and they soon suck the joy out of life.
King David also knew what it was like to carry around these heavy burdens. He knew what it was like to be faced with troubles. He also knew the anxieties that can come with troubles. In Psalm 55, he describes how he's attacked by former friends. He's betrayed. He's persecuted. And that naturally leads to anxiety. But is David sick with worry? Does he carry these anxieties around with him? He writes (v.22), "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.Ē These are the words that Peter refers in 1 Peter 5. Do you want to know what to do with those worries and anxieties, that heavy sack weighing you down? David says, cast it on the LORD! Thatís an act of unloading. Getting rid of the weight, throwing off the burden.
Thatís how the LORD wants His children in Christ to live. He doesnít want me carrying burdens in my own hands, but to put them in His hands. And hereís where the humility comes in. I am to get rid of the notion that everything is in my control. Humility: that means, not trying to do it by myself, in my own strength, carrying heavy burdens on my own. Rather in faith, I must acknowledge and rely on the mighty hand of my heavenly Father in Christ. My Fatherís hand, which created the universe. My Fatherís hand, which controls every aspect of my life. My Fatherís hand, which will sustain me. The hand of my God and Father in Christ, who cares about me! When I unload in this way, when I trust in my Father, Iím no longer burdened with worry! Thatís all part of casting my anxiety on Him, thatís all part of humbling myself under Godís mighty hand. No more proudly taking matters into my own hands!
In the end I have to admit that anxiety about my troubles is a matter of sinful pride. Itís a matter of relying on myself, and failing to trust in the mighty hand of my loving Father. Thanks be to God that He knows my sinful weakness, and in love corrects my foolishness. That He knows my inclination to pride, and calls me to humility. That He knows my inclination to anxiety, and calls me to trust. That He knows Iím still learning, and again and again teaches me to cast my anxiety on Him in prayer, to worry about nothing and pray about everything (Phil. 4:6). Why worry, when I can pray?
Rev. Richard E. Pot
Published in Clarion, 2006