Anxious For Nothing

Anxious For Nothing

Anxiety is Everywhere

Today we kick off a new series called “Anxious for Nothing” as we look at how to deal with anxiety and worry. You may wonder why we would have an entire series on such a topic. The answer is that every person in this room either struggles with anxiety or will struggle with anxiety or loves someone who struggles with anxiety.

We are in the midst of a massive shift in mental health – a crisis impacting all corners of society, but especially the younger generations, and women.

  • HALF of adolescents between 13 and 18 years of age struggled with anxiety in 2023, with three in five teenage girls having at least a two-week period of sadness or hopelessness.
  • One in three adults suffered with anxiety or depression in 2023, an increase of over 50 percent from the years before Covid.
  • Six million Americans will have panic attacks this year – something that feels like you’re having an actual heart attack – with women being twice as likely to experience panic attacks.
  • Fifteen million Americans struggle with social anxiety, most of them suffering for over 10 years before ever seeking help. Instead, They simply miss all sorts of communal life events.
  • Most surprising to me is that these skyrocketing rates of anxiety are primarily an American phenomenon. This is another area in which we lead the world.

While there are lots of ideas about WHY this is happening, that’s not the focus of our series. Instead, we want to learn how to deal with anxiety and put it behind us. For those of you who have had bouts of darkness with worry and anxious thoughts that have trapped you in hopelessness, I hope this series unlocks God’s strategy for dealing with the worries that fill your mind and replacing them with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

For those of you who have not struggled personally (and I’m in that boat) it might be hard for you to relate to those who are hurting so badly. To help you understand how so many people around you feel, I want to read an explanation of what anxiety feels like. I found this in Max Lucado’s book Anxious for Nothing – one of two books I’m relying on heavily for this series. Here is what Max Lucado writes in pages 1-3:

It’s a low-grade fear. An edginess, a dread. A cold wind that won’t stop howling. It’s not so much a storm as the certainty that one is coming. Always . . . coming. Sunny days are just an interlude. You can’t relax. Can’t let your guard down. All peace is temporary, short-term. . . .

Anxiety is trepidation. It’s a suspicion, an apprehension. Life in a minor key with major concerns. Perpetually on the pirate ship’s plank.

You’re part Chicken Little and part Eeyore. The sky is falling, and it’s falling disproportionately on you.

As a result you are anxious. A free-floating sense of dread hovers over you, a caul across the heart, a nebulous hunch about things . . . that might happen . . . sometime in the future.

When I read that to someone who has sought help for anxiety for several years, they simply said, “Exactly.”

Additionally, anxiety doesn’t simply stop with impacting a person’s thoughts, but it also works itself out through all sorts of physical symptoms. Locked jaws, sore necks, twitching eyes, headaches, and high blood pressure are just a few of the ailments that simply increase the anxiety a person is ALREADY feeling!

When I take the time to let all these feelings and physical manifestations of anxiety fully sink in, it helps me to better understand the challenges so many people around me are wrestling with. It also makes me feel terrible to know that the joy and peace God wants these people to experience seems so far away.

That is why we are jumping into this series today. We hope to help some of you find tools to better deal with your anxious hearts, and we hope to give those of you who don’t currently battle anxiety the knowledge and tools to support loved ones who do.

Key Passage on Mental Health God’s Way

When talking about worry, anxiety, depression, and all sorts of mental health issues, there is one biblical passage that speaks more clearly on these topics than any other. It is actually the most highlighted scripture in the Bible according to the number-one most popular Bible App and Amazon Kindle. It is Philippians 4:4-9. In fact, as part of this series, I challenge you to try to memorize all or part of this passage, or at least commit to reading it over and over throughout the week.

Before I read this passage to you today, it’s important that you understand the context of this letter. The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi while he was in jail. Not only was he jailed, but he was potentially facing death for his unwavering commitment to sharing the Gospel of Jesus.

You would think that in this situation Paul, more than anybody else, would have reason to fret and worry, to feel bad for himself and to be filled with “What ifs?” running through his mind. But that’s not his attitude at all. Instead, he writes a letter that is most simply summarized by one word: “Rejoice!” And for that reason, he is the person most qualified to instruct us all on how to face the challenges of life and yet maintain a mindset of peace and joy. Let’s take a look at what he wrote.

Philippians 4:4-9 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything*, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.           * [In the New King James translation, this phrase says, “Be anxious for nothing” and is where the title for this series comes from.]

We will walk through this passage in the coming weeks, looking at what Paul tells us to do. Today, however, I want to focus on the promises made to us in this passage. In the middle of so many directives of what we are to do, three promises about God are crucial for you to hold tightly in your heart.

The Lord is near.

I understand that in the middle of a mental health crisis or even the lingering worries of life, God can seem very far away. It can feel like everything is up to you – or worse, up to random chance with God having no bearing on what is about to happen to you. That couldn’t be further from the truth! The Lord is near. Jesus stands by your side with the Spirit of God literally inside of you and empowering you to face the troubles of life. You are not alone in your struggle. The God of the universe is right there with you, telling you that you can persevere.

The Peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I want to focus on the word “guard.” God’s peace, the peace that transcends or surpasses all understanding, acts as a guard for your heart and mind to protect them from the constant barrage of anxious thoughts. If you allow, it will be a shield that blocks the litany of “What ifs” that attack your peace and calm.

The God of Peace will be with you.

The prophet Isaiah wrote of the coming Savior, who would be known as the Prince of Peace. He would bring shalom (peace) to the chaos of the world. Everything that is wrong with the world, everything you worry could go wrong, is all under the control of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who will one day judge this whole world and put an end to all that is wrong. In the meantime, as His kingdom extends across this globe one person at a time, He offers His peace to the hearts of all people.

God Wants Good for You

Perhaps you have felt anxious and isolated for so long that it is all you know. Maybe the words from Galatians (“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”) feel completely unattainable. Maybe you have given up on knowing freedom from this constant feeling of doom and dread.

That is not why God made you! And that’s not God’s plan for you! God wants good for you! He created you to experience a life much, much better than the bondage of mental torment.

Take a look at what God wants to graciously give you:

  • Peace – John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  As I’ve already emphasized, Jesus very directly stated that one of His missions was to bring peace to this messy and worrisome world.
  • Joy – Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy. Anxiety steals joy, but God promises the opposite. He wants to fill your heart with deep and abundant joy and satisfaction regardless of the challenges of your circumstances.
  • Purpose – Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Not knowing their purpose is a huge worry for many people. They feel like they don’t know what the point of life is. God, however, offers a divine purpose by creating each one of us in His image and preparing good works for us to do for the glory of His name.
  • Confidence – Proverbs 3:26 – For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. Being caught up in dread and fear leaves you doubtful of your place in the world and in social structures; but God reminds us that our confidence need not be in ourselves but in our Lord. Because of our relationship with the God of the universe, we can have confidence in how we live our lives and make our decisions.
  • Protection – 2 Thessalonians 3:3 – But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. Many people feel vulnerable and worry for their safety, either physical or emotional, but God says you need not worry about those things. He is faithful and will protect you from the Evil One and his attacks.
  • Victory – Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. As a result of God’s nearness and His being FOR us, we are told that we will be even MORE than conquerors. We will be victorious! The bondage of self-doubt, isolation, fear and wandering will be overcome by the God who loves you too much to leave you in the mire.

I must include one final lesson that I recently taught to the Wednesday youth group. In the Old Testament, God promised to bring the Israelites into the Promised Land. He promised to set them free from the slavery of Egypt and to bless them with the promises of a land “flowing with milk and honey.” You might think that meant God would roll out the red carpet and allow them to waltz right in and freely receive this promise from God.

Not so! In the book of Joshua we see that God had a different path and a different plan for the Israelites. They had to fight battles to remove the enemy nations from the land. God would fight alongside them, and He assured them of the victory, but they still needed to engage in the battles.

That concept holds true for every one of you. Breaking free from anxiety will include fighting battles with God at your side. Yes, for some of you God might immediately set you free. For many more of you, though, there will be battles to fight as you learn to trust God to lead you from the bondage of worry to the freedom of peace in Christ.


Here’s what I want you to walk away chewing on today: God wants everyone to experience peace and calm as we rest in the assurance of His presence and His perfect peace. He wants you to be truly “Anxious for Nothing” as we continue to uncover the instructions from this passage in Philippians.

In the meantime, when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, and wrapped up in “What ifs?” remind yourself that “the Lord is near,” and “the peace of God will guard your heart and mind.” Focus on the great big God (who can more mountains) sitting in your corner with you.

God wants good for you. If you are willing to fight this battle against anxiety, He promises to fight with you and bring you to the other side, where you will experience the perfect peace we can find only in Him.


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