It’s making headlines everywhere: Anxiety disorders are on the rise. While physical problems can certainly cause feelings that mirror anxiety, it seems that most sources agree that the root of the problem is in our thoughts, based on our interpretations of the world around us. While some attribute the rise in anxiety to financial instability, others counter that we still have it better than those living through the Great Depression.
As one therapist explains, “There is a sense that the world is not as safe as it used to be, and that creates a lot of anxiety. . . . There’s so much stressful news that it starts to take a toll on you.” He also explains how other factors, such as social media and societal standards contribute to stress by inviting women especially to compare themselves to others and always feel the pressure to perform, with the blurring of professional and personal life.
While the circumstances and tendencies of our society might be unique, our propensity to fear is nothing new. (1 Corinthians 10:13, Ecclesiastes 1:9)
What Financial Anxiety Looks Like
Financial anxiety can take the form of Scrooge-like hording or obsessively considering every single financial purchase. It can accost the most wealthy as well as those with very little. Whether successfully striving for a “comfortable retirement” or becoming frustrated over never being able to “get ahead,” anxiety can take its toll on both your physical and mental health.
Either way, it stems from a false belief: that we need to supply for our needs and lay up earthly treasures to provide for every “what if” and faraway financial need. Now, there’s nothing wrong — and everything right — with working hard and setting aside for the future (see Proverbs 6:4-10), but there is definitely a problem when striving and obsessing over earning money or unmet financial needs becomes our primary focus (Matthew 6:21).
What Trusting God Looks Like
Maybe back in the “Little House on the Prairie” days, it was easier to trust — or just more obvious that you had to. In the training ground of the wilderness, God trained his chosen people by providing for them, day by day, with one exception: the Sabbath. They would need to collect extra the day before in order to focus on Him and take the opportunity to rest.
Since other days, collecting extra would mean a wormy meal, I’m guessing it took some extra trust to collect a double portion on the eve of the Sabbath. In an agricultural society void of apparent safety nets like insurance and 401Ks, applying the “manna principle” was a necessity of life. Periods of “doing without” were expected, and paralyzing anxiety was simply not an option when survival depended on back-breaking, daily farm chores.
In the famous 23rd Psalm, David expresses his determination to trust God, his loving Shepherd. As Phillip Keller explains in “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,” we can cast our cares on Christ when we truly see Him as the loving Shepherd that provides for our every need.
Continue reading with Part 2.
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