Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Anxiety is common to all people, even Christians. We can learn to handle our anxiety by understanding that God is our ever present help, His strength is adequate for anything you might face and His help stands on its own.

We are living in anxious times. As I grew up we faced total annihilation by way of the bomb. My folks actually considered building a bomb shelter. Some of you may have done that. We wondered what would happen. Our anxieties are ever expanding. We have seen people poisoned by simply eating food that we have always taken for granted was pure. We have seen people die from AIDS by way of blood transfusions and not through an immoral lifestyle. We have more access to information today than ever before and in many cases it has caused us to be more apprehensive about our future. We are living in an age where technology is increasing faster than we have time to absorb the changes. Anxiety is the most pervasive psychological phenomenon in our time and few people understand.

I want to talk about “Hanging In There Through Anxiety.” There are not many of us who have not experienced some form of anxiety at some time. Anxiety comes about with concern about a possible danger or problem or something that will embarrass us. Anxiety is an emotion ... a feeling of apprehension or dread or uneasiness or worry or concern ...

and along with the feelings there are physical symptoms like clammy hands or a fast heart rate even migraine headaches.

Sometimes we know the source of our anxiety.

Years ago, Patty, Kevin and I went to Sweetwater, Texas for the rattlesnake roundup.

It is an annual event where people go out into the country side capturing rattlesnakes.

They are actually paid by the pound for the amount of rattlesnakes they can capture alive. We went to a large arena that is also used for rodeo and cattle buying purposes.

Two things hit you almost immediately when you enter that arena:

the smell and the sound of rattlesnake rattles.

It is an eerie feeling. They had caught some 10 tons of rattlesnakes. They were doing everything to milking them for the venom to skinning them, and one fellow was even irritating them to try to make them strike. The ones that were on the ground, where they were contained by concrete rings about 4 feet high, these they had to continually turn and move because they were so thick they would suffocate.

As usual, once our back was turned, Kevin was off and gone. There were moments of apprehension as we looked for him. Then, when we found him, we were even more apprehensive because he was standing outside of one of those rings, watching the man irritate the snakes. I had intended to eat rattlesnake for the first time in my life. After watching them kill and skin the snakes I had no stomach left to eat and to this day have not tasted rattlesnake.

There are some things that trigger anxiety and we know what they are. We understand.

Those things are built in safeguards God has given us to cause us to flee from danger.

We get anxious about other things. We get anxious about going to the doctor. We’re afraid he is going to find something wrong and sometimes we’re afraid he won’t find what’s wrong.

I get anxious about going to the dentist. They always ask, “Am I hurting you?” My standard answer is, “You started hurting me when I got into my car to come over here.”

They advertise “Painless Dentistry.” As far as I’m concerned that is as much an oxymoron as “military intelligence” and “government efficiency.” This is specific anxiety.

Things we specifically can identify as making us anxious.

Then there is free floating anxiety. We don’t really know why we are anxious ... why we have this feeling of apprehension. It is just there. We feel something is going to happen and we’re not sure we are ready, we don’t know how to prepare for it. Some people feel this is abnormal. To be fearful when there is nothing to be fearful about. Sometimes I think the free floating anxiety causes us the most difficulty.

We just have a sense of dread.

• We are anxious about our children.

• We are anxious about our spouse.

• We are anxious about our jobs.

• We are anxious about our health, retirement, the future, the economy.

We are anxious.

Some anxiety is good for us. They did a study in a hospital to determine the anxiety level in patients facing surgery. They found that the ones who were extremely anxious did not do well in surgery. But, those with no anxiety didn’t fare any better. They actually found that those who were mildly anxious about their circumstances were the best patients. They healed more quickly. A little bit of anxiety is good for healing physically and maybe even spiritually.

Maybe when we read about fearing God, which actually means to reverence the Lord, maybe we need to take that literally and recognize that we are in an accountable relationship with the Lord. God is going to hold us accountable for the way we live and act and relate to Him.

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