“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” - Proverbs 12:25
Chapter 12 of Proverbs is titled Contrast the Upright and the Wicked and discusses the differences between good and evil. The contrast between the effects of anxiety versus encouragement is a different matter. The effects of anxiety, whether physical, emotional or mental, always tear us down. Anxiety as an emotion is about informing us that something is at risk or at stake and inviting us to assess whether we can control, avoid or confront the risk.
When we get stuck in anxiety, it is often because we’re wanting to control something that is not really within our control. Holding onto the belief that ruminating on worrisome thoughts about things outside of our control will help us avoid the risk of pain and disappointment that only holds us back from seeing how God’s word offers to support us through these feelings even when it’s outside of our control. We can practice casting our anxieties on the Lord by stepping away from attempts to control our worries and leaning into the reassuring words of God. Once we do this, we can see that our anxiety is not a thing on which we should focus. Instead, we are called to give it up to God.
Verse 25 further deepens our understanding of what anxiety does to us – it weighs us down. To give this a visual metaphor, picture a backpack with a book in it. The more books you put into your backpack, the heavier it gets. The more worries you add onto yourself, the heavier your mind, emotions and physical body are weighed down with anxiety. When you carry thoughts in your mind, you carry them in your heart. Learning to replace those stressful thoughts with the word of God is life-altering. Rather than experiencing constant worry, you will find more joy in your life.
He Cares for Us
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” - 1 Peter 5:7
As humans, we like to be in control of our lives and, more specifically, of what happens in our lives. God continues to remind us, however, that it does not have to be this way. We might want to keep our anxiety to ourselves because we believe that we can handle it, thinking we have the authority to determine what happens to us and others. Is there a part of you that believes God is really in control? God cares deeply for us, but we prioritize our desire for control over His love, and this does not work in the end.
When Jesus calmed the storm in the presence of the disciples (Mathew 8:23–27), He demonstrated to us that only He is able to resolve the most frightening situations, even a treacherous storm in the darkest night. We must have faith that He has the power to do this. Waves may be uncontrollable, but when the storm clears, they are calmed and peaceful. In this metaphor, we represent the waves, and God is the only one that can give us peace. We must, therefore, give up control of our anxiety.
Pray Instead of Worry
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6–7
It is easy for us to immediately worry when things do not go as intended. We find it hard to not be taken captive by those thoughts and to instead pray about the situation. Pray about everything with thanksgiving and let God know about your worries. Even when our prayers are not solved exactly as we might want, we can remember what Scripture says and be led to give thanks to God. The peace of God surpasses our understanding because we are of this earth. However, we get to have faith that His peace will keep our minds and hearts tranquil in His presence.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.