There is no shortage of reasons for anxiety and worry to become a regular part of daily life. It’s in our nature. Perhaps people of every era have felt they have it hardest or have even more reasons to live in a state of heightened stress. Our human condition disposes us to feeling the pull of fear, the common denominator of all anxiety.
Yet looking around at how others may handle or even cherish their worries, and then inwardly at how we ourselves handle our own, it’s possible to see that our gift as Christians is to strive for a different and far better way. It is a way that includes God and gives God charge of the path forward. Is there much difference in my response to adversity, as a person of faith, than the response of those in the secular world? We strive to learn how to temper our fears, transforming them into hope and calm through trust in God.
The very real ways we temper and transform fear are through consistent prayer, refocused thoughts, gratitude, service, and more. Sometimes we succeed in this; other times we remain in the weeds of worry. Eventually, though, our spiritual growth – and calm – expands with the growing recognition that God is in the driver’s seat, and trying to take care of everything ourselves is too big a task, one we are not meant for.
Worry is in certain regards the opposite of faith. It steals our peace, wears us out physically and emotionally, and has the distinct ability to make us physically sick. In scripture, St. Peter tells us how to receive the calm that comes from unburdening and giving our troubles over to God. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
“The Lord himself goes before and will be with you: he will never leave you or forsake you.”
If we’re invited to cast our worry on God, because He created us and cares for us so, why do we so often refuse to let go and do just this?! God wants us to know, we’re told often in scripture, to stop worrying if we want peace. There is a direct relationship between an increased presence of and reliance on God in our lives and reduced worry.
Jesus made it simple when he said, “Be not afraid. I go before you always.” We do all that we can to be responsible for ourselves, to take good care of ourselves and others in times of trouble, keeping God present as a guiding light. Then, and often simultaneously, we trust God to take the reins, and do what we can’t do on our own.