Throw All Your Anxiety Upon Jehovah
“Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—1 PETER 5:6, 7.
1. How can anxiety affect us, and how might this be illustrated?
ANXIETY can affect our life dramatically. It can be likened to the static that sometimes disrupts a beautiful melody heard on the radio. If there is no interference with the radio waves, sweet strains can be enjoyed and can produce a state of calmness. However, the raspy noise of static can distort even the loveliest tune, causing us irritation and frustration. Anxiety can have a similar effect on our serenity. It can weigh us down so much that we cannot attend to vital matters. Indeed, “anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down.”—Proverbs 12:25.
2. What did Jesus Christ say about the “anxieties of life”?
2 Jesus Christ spoke about the danger of being distracted by excessive anxiety. In his prophecy regarding the last days, he urged: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-36) Just as overeating and heavy drinking can produce a sluggish mental state, so becoming weighed down with the “anxieties of life” can cause us to lose mental perspective, with tragic results.
What Anxiety Is
3. How has “anxiety” been defined, and what are some of its causes?
3 “Anxiety” is defined as “painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usu[ally] over an impending or anticipated ill.” It is “fearful concern or interest” as well as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary) So anxiety can be a complex problem. Among its many causes are sickness, aging, fear of crime, loss of employment, and concern for the welfare of one’s family.
4. (a) What is it good to remember about people and their anxieties? (b) If we are experiencing anxiety, what can be done?
4 Clearly, there are degrees of anxiety, just as there are various conditions or circumstances that can give rise to it. Not all people react to a situation in the same way. Hence, we need to realize that even if something does not trouble us, it may be the cause of severe anxiety to some of our fellow worshipers of Jehovah. What can be done if anxiety reaches such a point that we cannot concentrate on the harmonious and delightful truths of God’s Word? What if we become so smitten with anxiety that we are unable to keep in focus the issues of Jehovah’s sovereignty and Christian integrity? We may not be able to change our circumstances. Instead, we need to look for Scriptural points that will help us to cope with undue anxiety caused by life’s thorny problems.
Help Is Available
5. How may we act in harmony with Psalm 55:22?
5 When Christians need spiritual assistance and are burdened with anxieties, they can draw comfort from God’s Word. It provides reliable guidance and gives us many assurances that we are not alone as Jehovah’s loyal servants. For instance, the psalmist David sang: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” (Psalm 55:22) How can we act in harmony with these words? By throwing all our anxieties, worries, fears, and disappointments upon our loving heavenly Father. This will help to give us a feeling of security and a calmness of heart.
6. According to Philippians 4:6, 7, what can prayer do for us?
6 Regular heartfelt prayer is essential if we are to throw our burden, including all our anxiety, upon Jehovah. This will bring us inner peace, for the apostle Paul 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.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) The incomparable “peace of God” is an unusual tranquillity enjoyed by Jehovah’s dedicated servants even in the most trying situations. It results from our close personal relationship with God. As we pray for holy spirit and let it motivate us, we are not relieved of all life’s problems, but we do enjoy the spirit’s fruitage of peace. (Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22, 23) We are not overwhelmed by anxiety, for we know that Jehovah makes all of his faithful people “dwell in security” and will let nothing happen that will cause us permanent harm.—Psalm 4:8.
7. What role can Christian elders play in helping us to cope with anxiety?
7 Yet, what if our anxiety persists, even though we are meditating on the Scriptures and persevering in prayer? (Romans 12:12) The appointed elders in the congregation are also Jehovah’s provision to help us spiritually. They can comfort and assist us by using God’s Word and by praying with us and for us. (James 5:13-16) The apostle Peter urged his fellow elders to shepherd the flock of God willingly, eagerly, and in an exemplary way. (1 Peter 5:1-4) These men have our best interests at heart and want to be helpful. Of course, to benefit fully from the help of the elders and to fare well spiritually in the congregation, all of us need to apply Peter’s counsel: “You younger men, be in subjection to the older men. But all of you gird yourselves with lowliness of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”—1 Peter 5:5.
8, 9. What comfort may be drawn from 1 Peter 5:6-11?
8 Peter added: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you. Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him, solid in the faith, knowing that the same things in the way of sufferings are being accomplished in the entire association of your brothers in the world. But, after you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness, who called you to his everlasting glory in union with Christ, will himself finish your training, he will make you firm, he will make you strong. To him be the might forever. Amen.”—1 Peter 5:6-11.
9 How comforting to realize that we can ‘throw all our anxiety upon God because he cares for us’! And if some of our anxiety results from the Devil’s attempts to destroy our relationship with Jehovah by bringing persecution and other sufferings upon us, is it not wonderful to know that everything will turn out well for integrity keepers? Yes, after we have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness will finish our training and will make us firm and strong.
10. First Peter 5:6, 7 alludes to what three qualities that can help to allay anxiety?
10 First Peter 5:6, 7 alludes to three qualities that can help us to cope with anxiety. One is humility, or “lowliness of mind.” 1Pe 5 Verse 6 ends with the expression “in due time,” suggesting a need for patience. 1Pe 5 Verse 7 shows that we can confidently throw all our anxiety upon God ‘because he cares for us,’ and those words encourage implicit trust in Jehovah. So let us see how humility, patience, and implicit trust in God can help to allay anxiety.
How Humility Can Help
11. How may humility help us to cope with anxiety?
11 If we are humble, we will admit that God’s thoughts are vastly superior to our own. (Isaiah 55:8, 9) Humility helps us to recognize our limited mental range in comparison with Jehovah’s all-encompassing perspective. He sees things we do not discern, as shown in the case of the righteous man Job. (Job 1:7-12; 2:1-6) By humbling ourselves “under the mighty hand of God,” we are acknowledging our lowly position in relation to the Supreme Sovereign. In turn, this helps us to cope with circumstances he permits. Our hearts may yearn for immediate relief, but since Jehovah’s qualities are in perfect balance, he knows precisely when and how to act in our behalf. Like young children, then, let us humbly hold on to Jehovah’s mighty hand, confident that he will help us to cope with our anxieties.—Isaiah 41:8-13.
12. How might anxiety about material security be affected if we humbly apply the words of Hebrews 13:5?
12 Humility includes willingness to apply counsel from God’s Word, which can often lessen anxiety. For example, if our anxiety has resulted from deep involvement in material pursuits, we might well reflect on Paul’s counsel: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For [God] has said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) By humbly applying such counsel, many have freed themselves of great anxiety about material security. While their financial condition may not have improved, it does not dominate their thoughts to their spiritual detriment.
The Role of Patience
13, 14. (a) As to patient endurance, what example did the man Job provide? (b) Patiently waiting on Jehovah can do what for us?
13 The expression “in due time” at 1 Peter 5:6 suggests the need for patient endurance. Sometimes a problem persists for a long time, and that can heighten anxiety. Especially then do we need to leave matters in Jehovah’s hands. The disciple James wrote: “We pronounce happy those who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.” (James 5:11) Job experienced economic ruin, lost ten children in death, suffered from a loathsome disease, and was wrongly condemned by false comforters. At least some anxiety would be normal under such circumstances.
14 At any rate, Job was exemplary in patient endurance. If we are undergoing a severe test of faith, we may have to wait for relief, even as he did. But God did act in his behalf, eventually relieving Job of his suffering and rewarding him abundantly. (Job 42:10-17) Patiently waiting on Jehovah develops our endurance and reveals the depth of our devotion to him.—James 1:2-4.
Trust in Jehovah
15. Why should we trust implicitly in Jehovah?
15 Peter urged fellow believers to ‘throw all their anxiety upon God because he cares for them.’ (1 Peter 5:7) So we can and should have implicit trust in Jehovah. Proverbs 3:5, 6 says: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” Because of past experiences, some who are filled with anxiety find it difficult to trust other humans. But we have every reason to trust our Creator, the very Source and Sustainer of life. Even if we do not trust our own reaction in a certain matter, we can always rely on Jehovah to deliver us out of our calamities.—Psalm 34:18, 19; 36:9; 56:3, 4.
16. What did Jesus Christ say about anxiety over material things?
16 Trusting in God includes obeying his Son, Jesus Christ, who taught what he learned from his Father. (John 7:16) Jesus urged his disciples to ‘store up treasures in heaven’ by serving Jehovah. But what about material needs involving food, clothing, and shelter? “Stop being anxious,” counseled Jesus. He pointed out that God feeds the birds. He clothes the flowers beautifully. Are not God’s human servants worth more than these? Of course they are. Hence, Jesus urged: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” Jesus continued: “So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.” (Matthew 6:20, 25-34) Yes, we need food, drink, clothing, and shelter, but if we trust in Jehovah, we will not be unduly anxious about these things.
17. How might we illustrate the need to seek first the Kingdom?
17 To seek first the Kingdom, we must trust in God and keep our priorities in proper order. A diver with no breathing apparatus may plunge beneath the water’s surface in search of an oyster with a pearl inside it. This is his means of providing for his family. A high priority, indeed! But what is more important? Air! He must surface regularly to refill his lungs. Air is a higher priority. Likewise, we may have to be somewhat involved in this system of things in order to obtain the necessities of life. However, spiritual matters must come first because the very life of our household depends on these things. To avoid undue anxiety over material needs, we must have implicit trust in God. Moreover, ‘having plenty to do in the Lord’s work’ may help to allay anxiety as “the joy of Jehovah” proves to be our stronghold.—1 Corinthians 15:58; Nehemiah 8:10.
Keep On Throwing Your Anxiety Upon Jehovah
18. What evidence is there that throwing all our anxiety upon Jehovah can really help us?
18 To remain clearly focused spiritually, we must keep on throwing all our anxiety upon Jehovah. Always remember that he really does care for his servants. To illustrate: Because of her husband’s unfaithfulness to her, one Christian woman’s anxiety increased to the point that it was impossible for her to sleep. (Compare Psalm 119:28.) In bed, however, she would throw all her anxiety upon Jehovah. She would pour out her heart to God, telling him of the pain that she and her two small daughters were suffering. After she cried out for relief in fervent prayer, she would always be able to fall asleep, for she trusted that Jehovah would take care of her and her children. This Scripturally divorced woman is now happily married to an elder.
19, 20. (a) What are some ways we may cope with anxiety? (b) What should we keep on doing with all our anxiety?
19 As Jehovah’s people, we have various ways of coping with anxiety. Applying God’s Word is especially helpful. We have the rich spiritual food provided by God through “the faithful and discreet slave,” including helpful and refreshing articles published in The Watchtower and Awake! (Matthew 24:45-47) We have the assistance of God’s holy spirit. Regular and fervent prayer benefits us greatly. Appointed Christian elders are ready and willing to provide spiritual help and comfort.
20 Our own humility and patience are highly beneficial in dealing with anxiety that may beset us. Especially important is implicit trust in Jehovah, for our faith is built up as we experience his help and direction. In turn, faith in God can keep us from becoming unduly troubled. (John 14:1) Faith prompts us to seek first the Kingdom and to keep busy in the Lord’s joyful work, which can help us to cope with anxiety. Such activity makes us feel secure among those who will sing God’s praises to all eternity. (Psalm 104:33) Let us therefore keep on throwing all our anxiety upon Jehovah.
How Would You Respond?
□ How may anxiety be defined?
□ What are some ways we can cope with anxiety?
□ How can humility and patience help to allay anxiety?
□ In coping with anxiety, why is it vital to have implicit trust in Jehovah?
□ Why should we keep on throwing all our anxiety upon Jehovah?
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Do you know why Jesus said, “Stop being anxious”?