Summary: A sermon on stress, anxiety and worry (Seed thought from Todd Hunter's book, Our Favorite Sins, chapter 4 Anxious Annie; Outline and material adapted from Mark Copeland at: http://executableoutlines.com/top/anxiety.htm)
A. In an issue of the AARP Bulletin, readers were asked to respond to the question: What’s your strategy for coping with stress? The answers ranged from "Eat a chocolate chip cookie" to "Have a stiff drink." But Don Betz of Oakdale, Minnesota, offered his own unique solution. Every January 1st, Betz says, "I give my wife $1, and she worries about everything for both of us." That is not the end of the entry, Betz added, "If someone else wants to be worry free, they can also send her a dollar."
B. Chronic worry can cause serious physical problems, such as ulcers, heart attacks, and high blood pressure. Dr. Charles Mayo, of the famous Mayo Clinic, wrote, "Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry." We can literally worry ourselves to death.
A few years ago George Barna did a survey on American’s favorite sins. What is the top sin of Americans? Might think of pornography, overeating, or greed. Top sin is anxiety and worry. 60% of Americans say they are often tempted to worry because of anxiety.
Everyone has a certain level or stress and anxiety in their lives. However, when this crosses over the line into worry, it is sin. Amazing insight here from many who are not Christians. Todd Hunter- I don’t think many of the people surveyed even understand what sin is. I think these people were just noting the sores in their mouths, their racing hearts, their chronic fatigue and sore muscles and bones, their short tempers and their inability to sleep. Doctors say these problems are related to anxiety so this is Americas #1 concern.
What is anxiety? Anxiety is distress about future uncertainties. It is characterized by mental agitation and uneasiness. It primarily has to do with what may happen in the future, whether near or distant, whether real or imagined.
What causes anxiety? Anxiety is caused by real or imagined threats to our well being. We feel vulnerable and inadequately protected against these threats. Threats such as social rejection, physical injury or disease, poverty, death, and a wide range of other threats.
Anxiety has 3 main elements.
Insecurity: something bad is going to happen
Helplessness: There is nothing I can do
Isolation: There is no one to help me
“There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.” Deuteronomy 28:65, NIV.
For a Christian, anxiety and worry are doubting God’s power and goodness. Anxiety handicaps us. Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives us something to do but gets us nowhere.
Fear is at the heart of anxiety and worry. “You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life.” Deuteronomy 28:66, NIV.
Thesis: How can we overcome problems of anxiety and worry?
Trust in God
We need to deal with this problem’s causes, not just its symptoms. Some say that we need to get away, go on vacation more often. Get a less stressful job. Get a less stressful family, etc.
No, first of all, must put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Plan of salvation.
What is the truth about insecurity, helplessness, and isolation with regard to the Christian?
While a Christian may feel insecure, the reality is that he is very secure. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16, NIV.
While a Christian may feel helpless, the reality is that she has great help available. “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”” Hebrews 13:6, NIV.
While a Christian may feel isolated, the reality is that God is always at his side. “God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5, NIV.
We need to put complete trust and confidence in God’s ability to deal with anything that threatens us. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.
Prayer is open to the Christian to request God’s help. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14.
God has promised peace of mind to those who are willing to commit their anxieties to Him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7.
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