According to the CDC, “Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.” The stress of an unpredictable routine, coupled with worry for the health and wellbeing of one’s family members, are understandably factors that increase anxiety and make people fearful of the future.
It is important to remember that Christians are not exempted from feelings of anxiety and stress. Sometimes it can be easy to think that if we believe in God, and have a relationship with Him, then we should not suffer from a sense of worry and dread. However, this is not the case. As with any other human emotion, we are all susceptible to it. What matters more for the Christian is how he or she responds to anxiety and uses it to learn how to lean into God and understand His perfect plan better.
One summer, I kept putting off the landscaping and yard work that my backyard needed, and over time, weeds grew in considerably. One of the larger bushes along the fence actually looked like it was a tree, but when I started whacking at it, I realized that it was only a massive weed. The classic Veggie Tales film came to mind as I worked at it with shears and a yard trimmer. In the movie, a weed is planted in the ground when someone spreads a rumor. It starts as a small sprig, but grows bigger and bigger until it takes over an entire city. As I was working on cutting down my own weeds, I noticed other parts of the lawn that needed work. I hadn’t been able to see them before because they were hidden by the unkempt parts of the yard.
So, what does the Bible say about anxiety? Jesus tells us not to worry about anything – our life, what we will eat or drink, our body, what we will wear (Matthew 6:25) – and although this is comforting, it is not at all easy to do. When worrying thoughts come into our minds, it can literally feel impossible to focus on anything else.
If there is one thing consistent about this year, it is the uncertainty of it, which only leads to an increased feeling of a lack of control.
Jesus tells us not to worry, but the Bible doesn’t stop there. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Jesus doesn’t want us to worry, but He also wants us to know that He can take the burdens; He can carry them for us.
As I think back to when I cleared out the parts of our yard that had been left to their own devices, I can’t help but think of how that yard is like our own minds.
Much like those weeds, anxiety can obscure the parts of our lives that need tending. We can let relationships fall to the side and get behind on our work instead of filling our time with the support system that we need.
God wants to come in and clear out those unnecessary worries, but if we ignore them, we might be avoiding something that needs to be reconciled and noticed. We might even be ignoring His promise to help us.
Lately, I have been reminding myself what Jesus said about worrying – how He told us that tomorrow will “worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34)
It will. And more than that, Jesus already knows what tomorrow brings, and He will be there waiting for us when we get there.
Charlotte Pence Bond is the New York Times best-selling author of Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President along with two other books in the series. Her first solo book, Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father (Center Street) was released in October 2018 and reveals lessons her father, Vice President Mike Pence, has taught her. She is a current contributor to Lightworkers.com and her work has been published in The Washington Times, Glamour magazine and featured in US Weekly, among other major media outlets. A graduate of DePaul University with a BA in Digital Cinema Screenwriting and English, Charlotte contributed writing and production skills to the Emmy Award-winning documentary Fleeced (WFYI Productions). Charlotte currently attends Harvard Divinity School where she is a candidate for a Masters in Theological Studies, with an emphasis on religious themes in literature and culture.