Are Worry and Anxiety Trying To Seize or Control You?September 21, 2016
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. — Philippians 4:6
Do you ever have moments when anxiety tries to creep up on you and seize your heart? I’m talking about those times when you are thrown into a state of panic about things that concern you — such as your family, your friendships, your business, or your finances. Very often this state of panic is caused by the mere thought of a problem that doesn’t even exist and is unlikely ever to come to pass. Nevertheless, the mere thought of this non-existent problem troubles you deeply. Soon you find yourself sinking into such a strong state of worry and anxiety that it literally takes you emotionally hostage!
An example would be a wife or mother who worries endlessly about the health of her husband or children. Although in reality they are as healthy as can be, the devil constantly pounds the woman’s mind with fear-filled thoughts about her loved ones getting sick or dying prematurely. This fear acts like a stranglehold that gradually chokes off her life, paralyzing her until she can no longer function normally in her daily responsibilities.
Or have you ever known a successful businessman who lives in constant terror that he is going to lose his money? I’ve known many such men. Their businesses were blessed, stable, and even expanding. But because the devil struck their minds with worry and anxiety about losing it all, they weren’t able to enjoy the success God had given them. Instead of enjoying God’s goodness and His many blessings in their lives, they often lived like beggars, afraid that if they used what they had, they might lose it. This is a strangling, choking fear that steals people’s ability to enjoy what they possess.
Some people are so controlled by fear that they pray fretful prayers instead of faith-filled prayers. I must admit that I’ve had moments in my own life when I’ve prayed more out of fretfulness than out of faith. Have you ever had one of those times? Praying fretful prayers doesn’t get you anything. It is non-productive praying. God does not respond to fretfulness; He responds to faith.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Do you see the word “careful” in this verse? It is the Greek word merimnao, which means to be troubled; to be anxious; to be fretful; or to be worried about something.
In New Testament times, this word was primarily used in connection with worry about finances, hunger, or some other basic provision of life. It pictured a person who is fretful about paying his bills; a person who is worried he won’t have the money to purchase food and clothes for his family’s needs or pay his house payment or apartment rent on time; or a person who is anxious about his ability to cope with the daily necessities of life.
This is the same word used in Matthew 6:25, when Jesus says, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink.…” The word “thought” is also the Greek word merimnao. But in this particular verse, the Greek New Testament also has the word me, which is a strong prohibition to stop something that is already in progress.
This strongly suggests that Jesus was speaking to worriers who were already filled with fret and anxiety. He was urging these people to stop worrying. The verse could be translated, “Stop worrying about your life.…” Then Jesus specifies that they were to stop worrying about “…what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink….” So again we see the word merimnao used to describe worry, fretfulness, and anxiety about obtaining the basic necessities of life.
We also find the word merimnao used in the parable of the sower and the seed. Matthew 13:22 says, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” The word “care” is the Greek word merimnao, again connected to material worries and concerns.
Jesus says such worry “chokes” the Word. The word “choke” is the Greek word sumpnigo, which means to suffocate, to smother, to asphyxiate, to choke, or to throttle. You see, worry is so all-consuming in an individual’s mind that it literally chokes him. It is a suffocating, smothering force that throttles his whole life to a standstill.
In Luke 21:34, Jesus gives a special warning to people who live in the last days. He said, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, so that day come upon you unawares.”
When Jesus mentions the “cares of this life,” the word “cares” is the Greek word merimna. This time, however, it is used in connection with the word “life,” which is the Greek word biotikos. This comes from the root word bios, the Greek word for life. It is where we get the word biology. But when it becomes the word biotikos, it describes the things of life — pertaining primarily to the events, incidents, and episodes that occur in one’s life.
Thus, this phrase could be understood to mean that we should not allow ourselves to worry and fret about the events, incidents, or episodes that occur in life. This is a particularly fitting message for people who live in the last days and who are confronted by the incidents and episodes that occur during this difficult time.
So when the apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing…,” he is pleading with us not to be worried about the basic needs and provisions required for life. Paul is also telling us not to let the events of life get to us and throw us into a state of anxiety or panic. To let us know how free of all worry we should be, Paul says we are to be “careful for nothing.” The word “nothing” is the Greek word meden, and it means absolutely nothing!
So this phrase in Philippians 4:6 could be translated:
“Don’t be worried about anything — and that means nothing at all!”
So what is bothering you today, friend? What is stealing your peace and joy? Is there one particular thing Satan keeps using to strike your mind with fear? Can you think of a single time when worry and fretfulness ever helped make a situation better? Doesn’t worry serve only to keep you emotionally torn up and in a state of panic?
I urge you to put an end to worry today, once and for all. If you let worry start operating in you even for a moment, it will try to become a habitual part of your thought life, turning you into a “worrier” who never knows a moment of peace.
Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father right now, interceding for you continually. Jesus understands every emotion, every frustration, and every temptation you could ever face (see Hebrews 2:18). So why not make a deliberate decision to turn over all your worries to Jesus today? Rather than try to manage those anxieties and needs all by yourself, go to Him and surrender everything into His loving, capable hands. Walk free of all those choking, paralyzing fears once and for all.
Jesus is waiting for you to cast all your cares upon Him, because He really does care for you (see 1 Peter 5:7). Then once you throw your worries and concerns on Him, He will help you experience the joy and peace He has designed for you to enjoy in life all along!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I admit that I’ve allowed fear, worry, fretfulness, and anxiety to play a role in my life. When these negative emotions operate in me, I lose my peace and my joy. I am tired of living in this continual state of worry and fear about bad things that might happen. Jesus, today I am making the choice to turn all these destructive thoughts over to You. I don’t want to live this way anymore. I know this isn’t Your plan for my life, so by faith, I cast all my concerns on You. I release them into Your hands, Lord, and ask You to take them right now!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am free from worry, fretfulness, and anxiety. These forces have no place in me. I have surrendered every care and concern to Jesus, and He has taken them from me. As a result, I am free of every burden, every weight, and every problem. Jesus is my great High Priest, and He is interceding for me right now. With God on my side, I can enjoy life as He intended for me to enjoy it. I boldly confess that I am fear-free and worry-free and that anxiety has no place in me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. What is the one area in your life where Satan most often strikes your mind and emotions with fear, fretfulness, and anxiety? Do you know what triggers this attack of fear and worry?
2. For you to get out of fear and to walk in peace, what steps do you need to take in your life? In other words, what do you need to do differently than you are doing right now in order for you to move into a place of constant peace?
3. If you were going to counsel someone else who was being held hostage by worry, fretfulness, and anxiety, what would you tell that person to do to get free and to stay free?