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                        "THE PROBLEM OF ANXIETY"


1. Everyone is familiar with anxiety; it is a problem of epidemic

2. Yet as prevalent as it is, anxiety or worry is one of the most
   counterproductive things we can do
   a. Worry is like a rocking chair it will give you something to do,
      but it won't get you anywhere
   b. Worry is a fast getaway on a wooden horse

[How should the Christian approach the problem of worry? What can we do
about it? Perhaps by first...]


      1. Anxiety is distress about future uncertainties...
         a. It is characterized by mental agitation and uneasiness
         b. It may be mild or severe
      2. It primarily has to do with what may happen in the future,
         either near or distant

      1. Anxiety is caused by real or imagined threats to our well-
         a. We feel vulnerable and inadequately protected against these
         b. Threats such as social rejection, physical injury or
            disease, poverty, death, and a wide range of other threats
      2. Anxiety has three main elements...
         a. Insecurity:  something bad is going to happen
         b. Helplessness:  there is nothing I can do
         c. Isolation:  there is no one to help me
         -- These causes may operate individually or in various
      3. Emotionally, they cause just as much anxiety if they are
         imagined as if they were real

[Anxiety is a form of fear, and must be recognized as such.  With an
understanding of the problem, we are closer to...]


      1. The best remedy is to deal with the problem's causes, not just
         its symptoms
      2. What is the truth about insecurity, helplessness, and isolation
         with regard to the Christian?
         a. While the Christian may feel insecure, the reality is that
            he is very secure - Pro 3:21-26; He 4:16
         b. While the Christian may feel helpless, the reality is that
            he has great help - Ro 8:31; cf. Psa 27:5
         c. While the Christian may feel isolated, the reality is that
            God is always at his side - Psa 23:4; Mt 28:20; He 13:5,6
      3. The remedy for anxiety is complete trust and confidence in
         God's ability to deal with anything that threatens us - Isa
         40:31; Jn 14:1; Ph 4:13; cf. Deu 31:7,8; Ro 8:31
         a. The more we learn about God, the more we know His infinite
            power and His concern for us - 1 Pe 5:6,7
         b. The avenue of prayer is open to the Christian to request
            God's - 1 Jn 5:14
         c. God has promised peace of mind to those who are willing to
            commit their anxieties to Him - Jn 16:33; Ph 4:6,7; 1 Pe

      1. Read the Bible
         a. Committing ourselves to God's safekeeping requires that we
            grow in our knowledge of God and love for Him
         b. Thus, the most important thing we can do is study the
            Scriptures, pray, and meditate on God's promises to His
            faithful people - Ro 15:4
      2. Be realistic
         a. Peace of mind does not depend on solving all the problems,
            righting all the wrongs, removing all the imperfections, or
            getting all we want - cf. Ecc 8:16-17
         b. Some things will not change and we need to be realistic
            enough to accept that
            1) There are problems that have no solutions
            2) There are situations that must simply be lived through
            3) The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to
               overlook (William James) - cf. Pro 19:11
         c. Realistic knowledge of our own limitations ought to cause us
            to relax and slow down
            1) Besides the noble art of getting things done is the noble
               art of leaving things undone
            2) The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of
               nonessentials (Gladstone)
         d. We must learn to let go of some problems and allow the Lord
            to be in charge of them - 1 Pe 5:7; cf. Pro 3:5,6
      3. Be flexible
         a. Change is inevitable; we have got to be resilient,
            adaptable, adjustable - cf. Ph 4:11-12
         b. Under stress, if we can't bend, we will surely break
         c. Our faith must be in Him who changes not
         d. There are some changes we ought to resist without
            compromise; wisdom can tell us when to change and when to
            hold our ground
      4. Focus on the good cares, minimize the unnecessary ones
         a. In the Bible, cares can be either good or bad
            1) Good - 1 Co 12:25; 2 Co 11:28; Ph 2:20
            2) Bad - Mt 13:22; Ph 4:6; 1 P 5:7
         b. We tend to become distracted by many relatively unimportant
            cares, and don't care enough about the things we ought to
            - Mt 13:22
         c. When the mind is distracted by many pursuits, it derives but
            little benefit from any of them
         d. Really only one thing is necessary - Lk 10:41,42; cf. Mt 6:
      5. Learn to live one day at a time
         a. Proper use of today diminishes anxiety about tomorrow - cf.
            Mt 6:34
            1) Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its worries and
               sorrows; it only empties today of its strengths
            2) Worry is the interest paid on trouble before it falls due
         b. Many, if not most, of our fears will turn out to be
            1) Winston Churchill said on his deathbed that he had a lot
               of trouble in his life, most of which never happened
            2) In headaches and in worry vaguely life leaks away, and
               Time will have his fancy tomorrow or today (W. H. Auden)
      6. Stay busy
         a. Anxiety and idleness often go hand-in-hand
            1) Despair is a form of laziness
            2) Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the
               daytime, and too sleepy to worry at night
         b. Much good can be accomplished, even in adverse
            circumstances, if we will quit concentrating on what cannot
            be done and do what CAN be done
            1) Don't waste time in doubts and fears; spend yourself in
               the work before you, well assured that the right
               performance of this hour's duties will be the best
               preparation for the hours or ages that follow it (Ralph
               Waldo Emerson)
            2) Our great business in life is not to see what lies dimly
               at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand
               (Thomas Carlyle)
         c. There is no tranquilizer as effective as the knowledge that
            we have done our best and there is no pillow as soft as a
            good conscience
      7. Learn contentment
         a. A lesson Paul had learned - Ph 4:11-13
            1) We need to be able to rejoice in the Lord, which we can
               do if we continually count our blessings - Ph 4:4,6
            2) The Christian ought to be able to see the silver lining
               in the darkest cloud
         b. The discontented Christian may lose his soul because of it
            - 1 Ti 6:6-8; He 13:5,6
            1) Anxiety often comes from having too much, rather than too
               little - Ecc 5:12
            2) Our wealth depends not so much on what we have, as what
               we can do without
         c. When a problem produces anxiety within us, the very best
            thing we can do than bathe the problem in two things:
            reverence and gratitude


1. The Christian is given the means to deal with anxiety...
   a. Peace that comes through prayer - cf. Ph 4:6-7
   b. Reassuring confidence from trusting in God - cf. Psa 23:1-6

2. Whenever the feelings of insecurity, helplessness, and isolation
   produce anxiety...
   a. Focus on putting your trust in God
   b. Read the Bible, be realistic, be flexible, focus on the good
      cares, minimize the unnecessary ones, learn to live one day at a
      time, stay busy, and learn contentment

Note:  The main idea and several thoughts from this lesson were taken
from a lesson by Gary Henry.  The URL for his web site containing many
excellent articles and sermon outlines is:  http://www.brasstacks.org
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