Do Not Be Anxious
OUR time is one that is full of anxiety. The world staggers from one crisis to another, keeping mankind in a state of constant agitation.
No one can escape being affected by this strife, for it is global. In Asia, Africa, Europe, Central and South America, as well as in the United States, racial hatreds, revolutions, guerrilla wars and other upheavals occur with frightening rapidity. There are food shortages, pestilences, earthquakes and the ever-present threat of a nuclear holocaust.
Persons who put their hope and trust in this system of things are understandably filled with anxiety, for they find the proposed remedies of world leaders failing time and again. As Jesus Christ predicted would be the case, men everywhere are becoming “faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” Nowhere does there seem to be stability and security.—Luke 21:26.
Yet, in the face of the worsening world conditions, Jesus encouraged Christians not to be in fear, not to be anxious. “As these things start to occur,” he said, “lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” And the early Christian apostle Peter said: “The object of their fear do not you fear, neither become agitated. But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts.”—Luke 21:28; 1 Pet. 3:14, 15.
It is not easy to remain fearless and unburdened by anxiety when one’s means of livelihood or one’s life is threatened. Firm faith in God is required. A person must believe that Jehovah God exists and that he is concerned about the welfare of those that serve him. Only with this confidence in God and his ability to protect and provide can one remain calm and peaceful when beset by trials and difficulties.
The importance of remaining close to God in prayer cannot be overemphasized, for it is the key to avoiding anxiety. Note how the apostle Paul drew this to the attention of the early Christians at Philippi. He wrote: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 4:6, 7.
If you keep close to Jehovah God by means of prayer and by studying his Word the Bible, you will come to appreciate why world conditions have taken such a turn for the worse. The evidence will become clear that the present difficulties are in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy concerning conditions that would mark the end of this wicked system of things. You will see, therefore, that God’s kingdom is now at hand and that soon God will wipe from the earth all traces of wickedness and will usher lovers of righteousness into a new order of peace and happiness.—Matt. 24:3-14, 32-34; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Dan. 2:44; Rev. 21:3, 4.
This knowledge will help you to avoid anxiety. Even should governments change and anti-God elements gain control, you will not panic and necessarily think that one will be better off by fleeing to another location. You will appreciate that there is no physical location of real peace and safety, for trouble can quickly strike anywhere on earth. Therefore, you will look to God for help, and continually pray for his spirit and direction. Yes, in keeping with the apostolic encouragement, you will “throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—1 Pet. 5:7; Ps. 55:22.
But in this connection, did not Jesus say: “When they persecute you in one city, flee to another”? (Matt. 10:23) Does this not indicate that Christians should flee from areas of persecution? How is Jesus’ instruction to be understood?
Jesus was not advocating fearful flight. He had just told his disciples to ‘shake the dust off their feet’ and move to another place when people did not receive them—not because of fear, but in order to reach persons to whom they could preach the Kingdom message. Similarly, when they were persecuted in one city by those who rejected the message, Jesus advised his disciples to flee to another city. So it was that when Paul’s life was threatened in Damascus because of his preaching, he left town secretly at night; and when persecution made it impossible for Paul and Barnabas to continue preaching in Iconium, they fled to other cities.—Acts 9:23-25; 13:49–14:6.
However, that Jesus did not mean that Christians should quit preaching because of fear of what would happen to them is indicated by his following words: “Do not fear them . . . What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach from the housetops. And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. . . . Therefore have no fear.”—Matt. 10:26-31.
Mature Christians do not abandon their ministry because they fear men who may kill their physical body. They are not consumed with anxiety over their personal safety or whether they will be able to obtain necessary material provisions. Rather, their chief concern is caring for the spiritual needs of those who show themselves righteously disposed toward God. They are confident that, not some physical location on earth, but “the name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”—Prov. 18:10; Matt. 6:25-34; Ps. 37:25, 40; Isa. 41:10.
How evident it is that developing and maintaining strong faith in God is the only way to overcome the anxieties that clutch at the hearts of men! So look to Jehovah. Keep close to him through prayer and obedience to his commandments. Fearlessly continue to preach God’s Word of truth, saying “to those who are anxious at heart: ‘Be strong. Do not be afraid. Look! Your own God will come with vengeance itself, God even with a repayment. He himself will come and save you people.’”—Isa. 35:4.