Until about five years ago, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t plagued with anxiety. For years I worked tirelessly to control everything about myself and my environment in order to bring security to my life. I talked with lots of people who grew up in really rough homes and dealt with horrible situations, but I was not that person. I had no reason to feel anxious about life. I just did.
Some experts believe that people are born with a proclivity toward anxiety, worry and fear. Many people think anxiety comes with time and difficult circumstances. I’m inclined to believe both are true. I have friends who have been through terrible things, but they are still easygoing, even in times of stress. That is not how I’m wired. I started with a bent toward anxiety, and life’s circumstances amplified my desire for control.
What I don’t think many people realize about anxiety is that it’s not the bottom-line issue. A few years ago, as the Lord began to unravel the mess I’d created, I began to learn that my root problem is two-fold.
First, I am an idolater. I crave control the way addicts crave alcohol or pornography. This craving of control leads to a heightened desire to manipulate and maneuver any way I can to get on top of the situation.
Second, I don’t trust God. I hold the deep conviction that my way is better than His. I truly believe that I can fix a problem or force a person to like me or make myself perfect.
Anxiety is actually an outworking of a deeper idolatry and lack of trust. And, if we really want to find the bottom line, idolatry sits on top of our lack of trust. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus speaks directly to the root problem.
He tells us not to be anxious about what we will wear or eat and then gives the reason we don’t have to fear: “…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (v. 32). I love the fact that Jesus addresses the heart’s first love before He addresses anxiety. In verses 19-24, He calls us to lay down the fleeting things of earth and take up treasure in heaven. If our treasure lies in heaven, we have no reason to be anxious.
So where does your treasure lie? If you say your treasure lies in heaven, but you are riddled with anxiety, think again.