Being Paralyzed by Fear & Anxiety

Being Paralyzed by Fear & Anxiety

Sometimes, our primary fear isn’t from without but from within. We know God is both powerful and good and can protect us from others, but we are anxious about ourselves. Somehow, we think we still have the power to mess things up. We fear that we can’t provide for ourselves, that we can get into messes that even God can’t clean up, knots that even he cannot untie. Ultimately, we think our happiness, and that of our families, is up to us, and such thinking paralyzes us to the point where we can’t move forward.

In the late 1980s, a song called “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin reached the top of many chart lists round the world. All the music was produced with human voices, and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was the first a Capella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song bounces along gently and reassuringly. It’s become the perfect background music for scenes in many movies, TV programs, and recently even in video games.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is comforting. But there’s almost no substance, no basis, behind the ‘don’t worry but be happy’ theme other than ‘don’t worry but be happy.’ I’ve read the lyrics. No money, no style, no girl? Don’t worry, be happy. No place to live and a landlord suing you? Don’t worry, be happy.

That’s a nice philosophy, but also hopelessly inadequate. The song virtually says: “Live in denial. No matter what, just don’t worry and be happy.” In Luke 12 Jesus speaks about worry, but he has something of real meaning to say about overcoming worry. His words are so much better than “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”!

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.  

Luke 12:22-31

An earthly father who loves his children will give them affection but also all the practical necessities of life because love does that. Jesus gave an illustration of God’s love based exactly on that truth:

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

Matthew 7:9-11

Earthly parents provide for their children. Our heavenly Father will provide even more. We are in his family. We belong to him, and he cares for us greatly indeed.

Our priority is not the things of this world and getting as much of them for ourselves as we can. Our priority is putting God’s kingship, his kingdom, above all else, and trusting Him to provide whatever we need.

Gregory J. Gillam


30 Days

This blog post is based on my book "30 Days: Emails from a Father to a Son Battling Depression". Book is available in PDF, Kindle and Paperback versions. Click the book title to find out how you can get a copy.

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