The Instructive Power of Anxiety

Anxiety is the emotion of unbelief.  That's what my friend Greg Mitchell likes to say. The more I've lived and thought about it, the more true I've found it. I don't know about you but I feel anxious regularly, about all kinds of things.

Recently, I received some ministry-related news that gave me anxiety. It was the kind of news that made begin to ask frantic, anxiety-fueled questions like, "What about the future?" "What if growth slows?" "What about our image in the city?"

And then I stopped. I breathed. The Holy Spirit spoke to me, took me back to the Bible, and lovingly led my worrying heart back to Jesus. But in the aftermath of that moment, I realized something: anxiety, though awful to experience, can be very instructive.

Anxiety Shows Me What I Love

Anxiety over losing something shows me what I really care about. If I'm so afraid of something being taken away, changing, or moving away from my control, then I probably love that thing more than I should.

Anxiety Shows Me What I Worship

Stress is like a sacrificial offering to a false god — I kill my peace on the altar of false worship dedicated to a thing that isn't God. I'll worry and fear the loss of the thing that I may be living for.

Anxiety Shows Me My Unbelief

As Dr. Greg says, anxiety is the emotion of unbelief. Anxiety reveals the precise location of my unbelief in the gospel, the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, and the power of His grace to heal, deliver, and take care of me.

Anxiety Shows Me Where I Must Believe

Very practically, anxiety then reveals where, precisely, I must repent. I must trust Jesus at the points over which I worry because those points reveal those wastelands of my heart where the refreshing life of Christ has not yet flowed, but should.

Maybe the instructive power of anxiety is part of the reason God allows us to experience it. He loves us enough to show us where we don't yet love Him enough.