Summary: A Biblical look at anxiety

Growing up in northern West Virginia you don’t really give much thought to furious storms let alone tornadoes. When you think of tornadoes you often think about places such as Kansas. About thirteen years ago a series of storms that contained tornadoes swept through the area of West Virginia where we were living. Downing power lines and putting a tree limb through our living room window. There was very little warning and caught an area off guard because people were not accustomed to storms of this type. After the storms had passed I stepped outside to see debris, downed trees and power lines. However, from that point on people viewed tornado watches and other warnings quite differently. No longer would we say well they never happen around here. We would always be prepared so we would not be caught off guard again. Now if a tornado warning is given people react quite differently having experienced the power and destruction first hand. Jesus’ disciples in our passage encounter what Mark terms as a furious squall on the Sea of Galilee. Even today, terrible storms can still rollover the mountains onto that massive lake, catching even the most experienced boaters totally by surprise. This storm had the disciples so worried that they were sure that drowning was imminent. Having exhausted all human effort they begin to press the panic button. They hurry down stairs to awaken Jesus who had been sleeping through all the excitement. Listen to how Eugene Peterson describes this event in his work the Message: “A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher is it nothing to you that we’re going down?” Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” Today let’s discover a way to keep ourselves from pressing the panic button and allowing our lives to be ceased by worry.

I. A view of the disciples and their encounter with panic.

A. The setting for our story.

1. Jesus, tired from a long day’s teaching, was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a "cushion".

2. In Jesus’ day these boats, which more than likely always have been the same, the place for any distinguished stranger is on the little seat placed at the stern, where a carpet or cushions are arranged.

3. The storm that arose must have been a major storm to strike fear into even experienced Galilean fishermen.

4. Being below sea level the lake is subject to the winds coming down the mountains causing sudden and unexpected storms.

B. The disciples’ battle and Jesus’ answer for their worry.

1. The disciples had not foolishly set out in this storm.

2. Generally, storms were not encountered at night so they did not see this one coming.

3. The Lord arose and rebuked the wind and the waves. The calm was immediate and complete

4. Most readers probably find the disciples’ fear understandable. Jesus did not. If they had had faith, they would not have been afraid.

5. If they knew who it was that accompanied them in the boat, they would not have feared death in the waves.

II. Worry is a very serious problem and can be very debilitating.

A. Everyone worries at one time or another, but some are more inclined to worry than others.

1. Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. with 19.1 million (13.3%) of the adult U.S. population (ages 18-54) affected.

2. More than $22.84 billion of those costs are associated with the repeated use of healthcare services, as those with anxiety disorders seek relief for symptoms that mimic physical illnesses.

3. Women are twice more likely to be afflicted than men.

4. Worry also has tendency to increase with age as many young people think it can’t happen to them and older people realize how life can take some very nasty turns.

5. Anxiety has become so common that people consider it a natural part of life.

6. God does not want us to worry.

B. Worry takes a toll on our health.

1. Doctors have tried to tell us for years that worry is extremely rough on our health.

2. Since our body is the temple of God we should want to overcome anxiety to protect His temple.

3. Almost 50% of those who suffer from anxiety disorder have been forced to seek medical attention in the past six months.

4. Only one forth of those seeking medical assistance for their worry related illnesses will get help for the source of their problem.

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