Anxiety is the most predominant form of mental illness in our country, plaguing both young and old, showing up as post-traumatic stress syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, even phobias and generalized anxiety disorder. We all struggle from time to time, whether as a way of life or due to particular circumstances beyond our control. It brings about physical reactions like shaking, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, frustration, and anger. Even depression can be linked to a series of anxieties we experience in life.
Culturally, we are a nervous wreck, and no one is immune to it.
Jesus Heals Anxious Hearts
My struggle with anxiety started early. As a child, I experienced vivid dreams that made my heart race. Even thinking of them today brings on certain emotions. The night terrors came on suddenly and without escape. I was trapped for half an hour after waking, held captive in terror.
Eventually, a counselor helped me to break free from those dreams. But as an adult, anxiety returned in the form of insomnia. Some nights I wake up completely drenched in sweat. An average night's sleep for me is about four hours. I wake up at two, three, four in the morning and never go back to sleep.
Over the last twenty years, I've read the text of Matthew 6:25–34 hundreds of times, as I have not only wrestled with the anxiety, but also with embarrassment and shame for having the struggle in the first place. There, I discovered that Jesus cares about our anxious hearts. And he teaches us how to direct our minds and hearts in order to please God.