Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Worry, Stress, and Anxiety

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves.  James 1:2-4

Worry, Stress, and Anxiety

Many people exchange worry and anxiety with each other, but they are different and affect us differently. Worry is an emotional response to our lack of control over the circumstances in our lives. It is funny how we profess that we believe that God is in control, but we work so hard to control our circumstances  and expect things to work out in a specific way – the way we envision it in our head. We hang on with everything we have, refusing to let go and surrender the control to God. When circumstances don’t work out like we think they should, it causes us to panic and worry, which can lead to anxiety. Anxiety is an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it. 

This past Sunday in his sermon on the stronghold of worry, Pastor Jim shared the key differences between worry and anxiety: 

Key differences between worry and anxiety:

·      Worry tends to reside in our minds. Anxiety affects both body and mind… 

·      Worry is specific. Anxiety is more generalized… 

·      Worry is ground in reality. Anxiety is marked by catastrophic thinking… 

·      Worry is temporary. Anxiety is longstanding… 

·      Worry doesn’t impair function. Anxiety does…

- Henry Ford Livewell, 08/21/20

Sometimes we may be experiencing circumstances that may be a result of someone else’s behavior. We don’t ask for those circumstances, and we have not done anything to cause or deserve them, but we feel the weight and destruction of them in our own lives. It creates emotional distress, worry, and can lead to anxiety when we have to endure it for a long period of time. This worry can affect us physically when it turns to anxiety. Long term exposure to stress, worry, and anxiety can lead to many health problems.

From the American Institute of Stress:

Here’s the takeaway: Worry happens in your mind, stress happens in your body, and anxiety happens in your mind and your body. In small doses, worry, stress, and anxiety can be positive forces in our lives. But research shows that most of us are too worried, too stressed and too anxious.   – 2017

Most of us are too worried, stressed, and too anxious, yet we are so unwilling to let go and turn it over to God. We are weary and miserable, and our fists and teeth are clenched, hanging on with all our might. When we finally let go we realize and experience the true freedom found in surrender. We can let go and surrender all to God, resting in his promises. 

What can we do when we have stress in our lives that we cannot get away from easily? What if we live with relationship stress between family members, financial problems, chronic illness (our own or caregiving for a family member with chronic illness), loved ones with addictions, or employment issues? These kinds of issues over a long term can take a major toll on our health. It is a vicious cycle if it is not handled. 

Stress is a part of life, but Jesus gives us a place we can go to find strength and peace in the midst of this life.  We can take all our burdens to Jesus and hand them over to him. He wants us to surrender and trust him and he wants to carry our burdens for us. And when we can’t take another step he carries us. 

If you need someone to talk to about the circumstances you are experiencing call the church office. We have pastors and counselors that can listen and pray with you. If you feel you need professional help we can help you find a therapist.

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 CSB 

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