The other day, I was checking out some comments that people wrote in response to my articles to see if there was any area that I could improve on or any that I could thoughtfully respond to. Fishing for comments nowadays can be tough given that a lot of social media interactions today can be more toxic than response-worthy.
One person who commented on an article I wrote on anxiety said, "The person who wrote this obviously does not experience anxiety. It doesn't go when you tell it to." Of course there's no point responding to a comment, but it did make me reflect on two ideas.
First of all, I think this person was wrong to assume or imply that I do not experience anxiety because much to my misfortune, I do. I wish he was right, but he's just not. Secondly, there is this commonplace thought among so many that anxiety and worrying is not really that big a deal.
We can often view anxiety as harmless, or even helpful. Indeed, worrying can have the appearance of something helpful because people may feel it brings results. Lots of things can bring 'results', but they are not necessarily good. Take gambling, for example. And similarly, worrying is not good.
In its purest and most honest form, we are to take worry for what it really is - a deadly sin. Why is worry a sin? At the deep core of worry is really a sinful mistrust towards the things of God and an idolatry of the self. When we worry, what we are really saying is "God's taking too long to deliver" or "He's apparently not good enough to meet my demands." This leads us to the thinking that because God can't, we need to look for other ways to get things done either on our own or through a functional savior or idol who replaces Jesus as our way to promises fulfilled.
And the worst part of worry is that it devalues our perception of God's value for us. In Matthew 6:26 and 28-29 (ESV), Jesus states this case for us: "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?... And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, 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."
Jesus makes the compelling case that our value in the eyes of God is even higher than that of birds and lilies, but how much even these lesser creations are cared for by Him. If He can take care of birds and flowers, He can definitely take care of us.
Worry, however, distorts both our perception of our God-given value through the grace made available through Christ, and God's innate fairness and faithfulness towards us whether it seems evident to us or not. God was, is and always will be faithful, but when we worry we mistake Him as careless, ignorant and uninterested. We view God as, well, not God, which is not just wrong but downright sinful - not to mention hurtful. Imagine how you would feel if you were always trying to do your best to care of someone but all they ever thought was that you don't love them and have forgotten about them!
And I speak this as someone who has a foot on a banana peel. We all know what it's like to worry, which is why we must seek to experience and know God's faithfulness more and more by growing in our relationship with Him. When we seek worry, we start belittling God and His immense value and ours as well. But when we seek God, we start belittling the need to worry and doubt the faithfulness of the God we serve.