Summary: Last week I shared Prov. 12:25, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." As I focused on the later part of the verse last week, today I want to focus on the beginning part of the verse. So, let's look at the subject of anxiety.
ANXIETY IS A DOWNER
INTRODUCTION: Last week I shared Prov. 12:25, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." in regards to shining our light. Light warms and so therefore a kind word warms a person's heart. As I focused on the later part of the verse last week, today I want to focus on the beginning part of the verse. So, let's take a look at the unnerving subject of anxiety.
1) Anxiety is heavy.
Prov. 12:25a, "An anxious heart weighs a man down."
There was a woman who for years had been living with the tension of all her various responsibilities at work, home, church and in her community. She went to her doctor for a check-up. She told him, "I'm not sure what's going on; I feel all run down." After hearing her out he asked her some questions. Upon the completion of her exam he told her, "The trouble isn't so much that you're all run down but that you're all wound up!"
Can anyone relate to that? The reason we are all run down is because we 're all wound up. We push ourselves because there's so much to do. We become anxious about getting everything done and we reach the point where we overdo it and break down.
Mechanical engineers study the strength of metals. They say that every metal has a "fatigue limit". It's the point at which the metal breaks under extreme tension and stress. We too have a "fatigue limit". A point we reach where we either break down or lose control. When we are caught in the grip of unrelenting stress-hour after hour, day after day, the least amount of added pressure brings us closer to the "fatigue limit".
But what can we do? The pace of life is demanding. We can't just stop. Maybe you feel like the business man who said, "I've reached the point where I can't keep going but I can't stop either." We might not be able to make life stop but that doesn't mean we have to be anxious about what life brings.
Now, it's worth mentioning that a certain amount of tension is a good thing. The rubber band needs to be stretched in order to be useful, guitar strings need to be tightened in order to sound right; you need to draw back a bowstring in order to shoot an arrow. So it is with us. The right amount of tension keeps us active; it keeps us sharp. Too much of it though and we will break-like the rubber band, guitar string and the bowstring.
So we need a healthy balance. We need positive outlets to relieve the pressures caused by everyday life so we can be lifted up when we feel weighed down. We need to do things like relax, meditate, listen to soothing music, take a little cat-nap, read the bible, call a friend-things to take our minds off what we're anxious about.
2) Anxiety is unsettling.
Some synonyms for anxious: nervous, uneasy, restless. When I think of these synonyms I think of the word "unsettled". Interestingly, when looking up 'restless' in the NIV, I came across two occurrences and both have to do with two guys who made some poor choices. The first one was the first murderer-Cain.
Gen. 4:10-12, "The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain killed his brother and for that one of his consequence was that he would be restless; he would never be settled. As the Geneva Bible Notes commentary put it, "You will never have rest for your heart, you will be in continual fear and worry." Do you know anyone like that? They seem to always be in a state of worry or fear?
Arthur Somers Roche said, "Anxiety is a thin stream of fear, trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained." Anxiety is something that can consume us. If left untreated our anxious thoughts will take over to where it seems all we can think about are the things we're afraid of or worried about.
Adam Clarke's commentary put it, "You shall be expelled from the presence of God." I thought about that and it occurred to me-when we live in the mindset of fear, worry, anxiety we are living outside the presence of God. God wants us to be close to him so we can be free from these draining and debilitating emotions.