A classical definition of "Anxiety" is a fear, usually without a known or unfounded cause, or immediate threat of danger. The term has become popular with modern psychologists who like to dig up past events and speculate on how they relate to present day emotions. There is some truth in this, but discovery is only the first step to freedom.
It is interesting that the KJV of the Bible does not use the term "anxiety". However, we can see by a word and context study the discussion of anxiety in the following verses of Scripture:
Psalms 42:5 "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance." (Note the word "disquieted".)
Psalms 94:19 "In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul." (The word "thoughts" mean "disquieting thoughts".)
Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (The word "thoughts" means "disquieting thoughts". Also the word "wicked" actually means "painful".)
Proverbs 12:25 Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. (Some translate the word "heaviness" as "anxiety".)
Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (To take thought means to worry.)
Matthew 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (To be careful is to be anxious.)
I Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (Cares are those things about which we worry.)
Some Related Symptoms of Anxiety
(1) Nightmares, (2) Insomnia (sleeplessness), (3) Nervousness, (4) Physical twitches, (5) Overeating, (6) Loss of appetite, (7) Irritability, (8) Anger, (9) Bitterness, (10) Indecisiveness, (11) A feeling a need to stay busy (can't be still), (12) Inability to concentrate, (13) Exhaustion (feeling tired all the time), (14) Talkativeness, (15) Extremely quite, (16) Suspiciousness, (17) Lack of trust in self or others, (18) Rapid pulse, (19) High blood pressure, (20) Intensity of pain, (21) Paranoia, (22) Worry, (23) Hypertension, (24) Chronic upset stomach, (25) Liberal taking of over the counter drugs, (26) Having a critical attitude, (27) Depression.
Causes of Anxiety
Usually unresolved mental, emotional, and spiritual issues leads to anxiety. I must insert that certain diseases, improper diet, and drug use, even the use of anti-anxiety drugs may be contributing factors to anxiety.
Anxiety is like a spider's web. It is difficult to isolate one strand of the web from rest of the web. With anxiety, it may be difficult to isolate one cause from other related factors. This illustrates the need for Christian counseling and prayer. In the following discussion, I will give six causes with answers to those causes.
The first cause of anxiety is guilt. We violate our conscience by doing something that we believe is wrong, and this results in feelings of guilt. David said, "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long" (Psalm 32:3). This is a picture of the effect of guilt resulting in anxiety. Guilt, itself, produces fear of discovery. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, they hid themselves. Fear, shame, and embarrassment are often associated with guilt. Another fear associated with guilt is that of rejection. What will others think of me? Will they still be my friends and support me? When a Christian fails morally, he may suddenly drop out of going to church for fear that people will reject him if he returns. Finally, there is a fear of punishment. One may fear physical pain (a spanking), job loss, or even the loss of his freedom. Since guilt does not automatically go away, even over a period of time, the anxiety associated with the guild does not automatically disappear. One may feel anxiety even years after he has removed the event from his conscious mind.
First, we need to confess our sins and ask God to forgive us through Jesus Christ. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Second, we need to confess our wrong to those we have offended, ask forgiveness, and make restitution if appropriate. Jesus said, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Matthew 5:24). Third, receive the forgiveness for yourself. "Come now, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
The second cause of anxiety is resentment resulting from mental and emotional wounds. "The words of a talebearer are wound, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly" (Proverbs 18:8). Mental and emotional wounds which are not healed by the Lord are subject to be contaminated by resentment. Resentment may harbor anger, bitterness, hate, and revenge. Resentment often becomes generalized. The woman who hates her stepfather for what he did to her when she was a child, often comes to hate all men. She may become extremely anxious any time she is around a man. When the subject of men arise in a conversation, she may spew out words of distrust and bitterness toward men. Although, the wound may be old, the anxiety may continue. World War III may continue in the heart.
First, we must forgive that we may be set free from spiritual bondage. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31-32). Second, we should ask God to take back the ground from the enemy that we have surrendered through unforgiveness. "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you" (Joel 2:25). Third, we need to ask for and receive emotional healing through Jesus. See "The Wounded Heart" for further study. Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted . . . to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18).
A third source of anxiety is spiritual confusion. Psychology tells us that we think and reason by creating "constructs". We take a basic idea and associate that idea with other ideas. For example, we may associate the idea of "red" with a color, hot, or a fire truck. We understand these to be true constructs. However, if we, by experience, discover that fire trucks are actually green, there would be a mental conflict which might result in anxiety.
Since we live in a world influenced by Satan, the liar and deceiver, we may at times come to accept wrong spiritual constructs. Then as we are exposed to the true constructs, we may experience spiritual confusion. Spiritual confusion with one construct opposing another construct within us may result in anxiety. For example, if one comes to believe that he has to live a perfect life to maintain his salvation, but also realizes that he will not, he will experience a great deal of anxiety. Some sources of spiritual confusion are the acceptance of lies, self deception, false doctrines, and vain imaginations. We should also understand that the conflict may not always be on the conscious level.
First, we are to read and study the Word of God that we may discover the truth. David declared, "The entrance of thy words give light: it giveth understanding to the simple" (Psalm 119:130). Second, we are to memorize the Word that it may save our minds from thinking wrong thoughts, the will from making wrong decisions, and the heart from feeling wrong emotions. "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). Third, we should hold to the Word in faith that we may use it to defend ourselves. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death" (Revelation 12:11).
The fourth cause of anxiety is worry. We see a problem that we face as a threat to our security and begin to focus our attention and thoughts upon that problem. We look at the greatness of the threat opposed to the lack of strength that we have to protect ourselves. The result is fear of failure or a fear loss of what we believe to be rightfully ours. The result is feelings of anxiety. Often, the greater the fear of loss, the tighter we hold on to what we fear that we may lose. We may even exhibit character traits of selfishness, greed, and impatience.
First, we are to take our focus of attention off ourselves and place it upon the Lord. "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink: nor yet for our body, what ye shall put on. Is not life more than meat, and the body than raiment" (Matthew 6:25). "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). Second, we should purpose to be content with what we have. "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (I Timothy 6:6-8). Third, we should practice patience, waiting and trusting upon the Lord. Peter says, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (I Peter 5:6-7). The article on "Finding Peace of Mind" may also be helpful.
The fifth cause for anxiety is generational curses. Generational curses are inherited tendencies (iniquity) toward sin that we receive as a result of the sins of our forefathers. "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me" (Exodus 20:5). Our parents, grandparents, or great grandparents were anxious, and we also have that tendency. Again, this is a spiritually inherited factor. Also, closely associated with this factor is the factor of modeling. As we see our parents being anxious, we model their behavior and also become anxious.
A detailed study of this topic is given in the book " How To Destroy The Evil Tree". However, in brief, we are to first to acknowledge and confess both our sins and the sins of our forefathers. " . . . I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned" (Nehemiah 1:6). Second, we should understand that Christ became a curse for us. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13). Therefore, third, we are to declare by faith that each curse is broken over our lives. "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering . . . " (Hebrews 10:23).
The sixth cause for anxiety is spiritual attack. A spiritual attack comes when Satan's forces of evil come against us to do us harm or tempt us. Satan uses anxiety to wear us down and make us more susceptible to being overcome by temptation, doubt, and even giving up on our faith in God. Of course, habitual sins, drugs, alcohol, idolatry, and any kind of involvement in the occult opens the door to such an attack from Satan. However, God may allow Satan to attack us that we may be tested and grow in our faith. Peter said, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye my be glad also with exceeding joy" (I Peter 4:12-13).
First, we should understand that our attack is spiritual in nature. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). Second, we should understand that Christ has already won the battle. "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:15). Therefore, third, we are to submit our lives unto God and resist (stand against) the enemy. James said, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
By way of conclusion, we should understand that we may not always recognize the causes for anxiety. Therefore, talking our situation over with a Christian counselor may bring a great amount of help. Moreover, God will reveal the causes as we call upon Him. When God does reveal the causes, He will also provide the grace to resolve the issue. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). Amen.
This article came from "Whole Person Counseling", by Basil Frasure, Ph.D.