I just did a search on Amazon for books about anxiety. Here’s a few of the first listings:
- Hardcore Self Help
- Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks
- The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Anxiety: Rewire Your Brain Using Neuroscience
Most of these books seem to come from the same general perspective – that if you are a worrier, you have a problem. But you have inside yourself the capacity to solve that problem. Through positive thinking, or rewiring your brain, or some other manner of self help you can be your own antidote.
I want to be careful in what I say next because I truly believe that there is a significant different between someone who finds themselves being anxious, and someone who has a diagnosable condition of anxiety. Modern medicine is a wonderful thing, and can and should be used in cases of the latter. But even if we find ourselves in this kind of condition whereby we need the aid of medication to help with our anxiety, there is still a spiritual component to anxiety that should be analyzed. We know this as Christians, and this is where the prescriptions in these books seem to fall short.
Take me, for example. I live with a fair amount of anxiety. It’s not, I don’t believe, the kind of anxiety for which I need a prescription. But it is the kind of anxiety that causes me to look at my own heart to try and find the root cause of that worry. I have found, especially in recent days, that my own worry problem is linked to my own worship problems. And here are three reasons why they also might be linked together for you:
1. Worry and worship both originate in the heart.
Once again, there are some of us for whom anxiety is a physiological issue. And if you suspect this to be true of you, then the best thing you can do is go to the doctor, thanking God all the way there that you can. But for many of the rest of us, we need to look deeply into our own hearts to find the source of our worry. When we do, we will find that our worry is a barometer of our faith. This is why Jesus spoke so strongly against worry – it’s not as simple as the fact that He wants us to live an anxiety free life. It’s that He is after our hearts, and our worry is a signpost to what’s going on there.
Similar to worry, worship is much more than singing or bowing or clapping or whatever. Worship is a posture that originates in our hearts where our treasure is determined. Because both of these things find their origin in our hearts, we can reasonably conclude that they are related in some way to one another.
2. Worry and worship are both revelatory of what you value.
What is worship? Regardless of what form worship takes, it is the attribution of value, worth and affection. Whatever holds the chief place in your heart is what you will worship. True enough, you might not physically bow to this “thing”, whatever it is, but it makes no difference. The human heart was made to worship something, whether God or something else.
Just as worship originates and finds its genuine expression in the heart, so also does worry find its source in the heart. To put it another way, you don’t worry about that which you care nothing about. You might say, then, that the human heart only has a capacity for so many things, and since worship and worry both require a heart investment, one tends to happen at the expense of the other, which leads to point number 3.
3. The solution to worry is worship.
If worship and worry originate in the heart, and if they then both reveal what we value, then perhaps one of the ways we combat worry is through worship. More specifically, it is through asking the very simple question when we find ourselves in the throws of anxiety:
What am I worshipping right now?
Is it money? Security? The opinions of others? Power? Reputation? Each time if asked myself this simple question, I’ve had to reckon with the fact that my value has gotten twisted. I have unknowingly bowed my heart before the idol of one of these things, and because I have, I have become anxious when that thing is threatened. It has been for me an opportunity for repentance – to remind my own soul of the worth and value of God, and turn to Him.
What are you worried about today? What has caught your nervous gaze? Perhaps you might consider, along with me, that there is something deeper going on here than mere skiddishness.