“Throw all your anxiety on [Jehovah], because he cares for you.”—1 PETER 5:7.
1, 2. (a) Why do we experience anxiety? (See opening picture.) (b) What will we consider in this article?
TODAY, Satan “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:17) As a result, life is stressful, and even God’s servants experience anxiety. God’s servants in the past also had anxious moments. For example, the Bible says that King David sometimes felt anxious. (Psalm 13:2) And the apostle Paul experienced “anxiety for all the congregations.” (2 Corinthians 11:28) But what can we do when we are overwhelmed by anxiety?
2 Our loving heavenly Father helped his servants in the past to find relief from anxiety, and he wants to do the same for us today. The Bible urges us: “Throw all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) How, though, can you do that? We will consider four ways. You can (1) pray, (2) read and meditate on God’s Word, (3) let Jehovah’s holy spirit help you, and (4) talk to someone you trust about how you feel. As we examine these four ways, try to find areas where you would like to improve.
“THROW YOUR BURDEN ON JEHOVAH”
3. How can you “throw your burden on Jehovah”?
3 The first way we can throw our anxiety on Jehovah is through sincere prayer. When you are anxious, your loving heavenly Father wants you to express your deepest feelings to him. The psalmist David begged Jehovah: “Listen to my prayer, O God.” In the same psalm, David also said: “Throw your burden on Jehovah, and he will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:1, 22) After you have done all you can to solve a problem, heartfelt prayer to Jehovah will help more than worrying. But how does prayer work? How can it help us avoid feeling overwhelmed by anxiety?—Psalm 94:18, 19.
4. When we are anxious, why is prayer so important?
4 Read Philippians 4:6, 7. How does Jehovah respond to our heartfelt and persistent prayers? He can help us to feel calm and to avoid negative thoughts and feelings. Instead of our having anxiety and fear, God helps us to have the deepest inner peace we could ever experience. Many of our brothers and sisters have felt this calmness. That can be your experience too. “The peace of God” can help you overcome any challenge! You can fully trust in Jehovah’s promise: “Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes, I will help you.”—Isaiah 41:10.
INNER PEACE FROM GOD’S WORD
5. How can God’s Word help you to find inner peace?
5 A second way to find inner peace is by reading and meditating on Bible verses. Why is this important? The Bible is God’s Word. It includes wise and practical advice from our Creator. No matter when you feel anxious, you can think deeply about God’s thoughts and meditate on how his advice can strengthen you. This can help you overcome, reduce, or even avoid anxiety. Jehovah specifically linked reading his Word with being “courageous and strong” and not being “struck with terror or fear.”—Joshua 1:7-9.
Strong faith in Jehovah will help us to trust that he will lovingly provide the things we need
6. How can Jesus’ words benefit you?
6 In God’s Word, we read about how Jesus spoke to people. They loved listening to him because his words were comforting and refreshing, especially to those who were weak or depressed. (Read Matthew 11:28-30.) Jesus was very concerned about how others felt. (Mark 6:30-32) Just as Jesus promised to help the apostles who traveled with him, he will help us today. We do not need to be with Jesus in order to benefit. As our King in heaven, Jesus continues to show love for us. So when you are anxious, you can be sure that he will be there for you and help you at the right time. Jesus gives us hope and courage, which help us to overcome anxiety.—Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:16.
QUALITIES THAT COME FROM GOD’S SPIRIT
7. How do we benefit from God’s holy spirit?
7 Jesus promised that our Father will give us holy spirit when we ask for it. (Luke 11:10-13) How will this third way of reducing anxiety help us? God’s holy spirit, or active force, helps us to develop the positive qualities that our almighty God has. (Colossians 3:10) In the Bible, these qualities are called “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Read Galatians 5:22, 23.) When we develop these good qualities, our relationships with others will improve, and we will avoid situations that could cause anxiety. Let us see how the fruitage of the spirit will help us in specific ways.
8-12. How can the fruitage of God’s holy spirit help you?
8 “Love, joy, peace.” When you treat others with respect, you will find that you have less anxiety. How so? When you show brotherly love, tender affection, and honor, you can often avoid situations that cause you to have negative feelings such as anger, frustration, and stress. This will make it easier to maintain peace with others.—Romans 12:10.
When we develop good qualities, our relationships with others will improve
9 “Patience, kindness, goodness.” The Bible says: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another.” (Ephesians 4:32) When we follow that advice, we will have peaceful relationships with others, and we will prevent situations that could cause us anxiety. Also, it will be easier to deal with situations that arise because of our imperfection.
10 “Faith.” Today, we are often anxious about money and material things. (Proverbs 18:11) How can we avoid this type of anxiety? We must follow the apostle Paul’s counsel to be “content with the present things.” Strong faith in Jehovah will help us to trust that he will lovingly provide the things we need. He has promised: “I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you.” That is why we can say like Paul: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”—Hebrews 13:5, 6.
11 “Mildness, self-control.” Think how practical and helpful it is for you to show mildness and self-control. These qualities will prevent you from doing or saying things that could cause you anxiety, and you will benefit by avoiding “malicious bitterness, anger, wrath, screaming, and abusive speech.”—Ephesians 4:31.
12 You need humility in order to trust in “the mighty hand of God” and to “throw all your anxiety on him.” (1 Peter 5:6, 7) If you are humble, Jehovah will support you and take care of you. When you recognize what you can do and what you cannot do, you will not rely on yourself. You will have less anxiety because you will rely on God.—Micah 6:8.
“NEVER BE ANXIOUS”
13. What did Jesus mean when he said: “Never be anxious”?
13 At Matthew 6:34 (read), we find Jesus’ wise advice: “Never be anxious.” This advice may seem impossible for us to apply. But what did Jesus mean? We have already learned that David and Paul felt anxious at times. Jesus did not mean that one who serves God would never feel anxious. Instead, Jesus was helping his disciples to understand that unnecessary, or extreme, anxiety does not solve problems. There will be challenges each day, so Christians should not add more anxiety by thinking about past or future problems. How can Jesus’ advice help you to reduce severe anxiety?
14. Like David, how can you reduce anxiety?
14 Sometimes people are anxious because of mistakes they made in the past. They may feel extreme guilt about what they did, even though it was many years ago. At times King David felt overwhelmed because of his mistakes. He admitted: “My anguished heart makes me groan aloud.” (Psalm 38:3, 4, 8, 18) In that situation, David did something very wise. He trusted in Jehovah’s mercy and forgiveness. And David then felt happy knowing that God had forgiven him.—Read Psalm 32:1-3, 5.
15. (a) What else do we learn from David? (b) What can you do to reduce anxiety? (See the box “Some Practical Ways to Reduce Anxiety.”)
15 At other times, you may be anxious about the present. For example, when David wrote Psalm 55, he was afraid he would be killed. (Psalm 55:2-5) Still, he did not let anxiety destroy his confidence in Jehovah. David begged Jehovah to help him with his problems, but he knew that it was also important to do something about his situation. (2 Samuel 15:30-34) You can learn a lesson from David. Instead of allowing anxiety to overwhelm you, do what you can to solve the problem and trust that Jehovah will care for you.
16. How can the meaning of God’s name strengthen your faith?
16 Sometimes a Christian may feel anxious about possible future problems. But you do not need to worry about things that have not yet happened. Why not? Because many times, things do not turn out to be as bad as we thought they would. Also, remember that there is no situation that God cannot control. His very name is understood to mean “He Causes to Become.” (Exodus 3:14) So we do not need to worry about the future, because God’s name shows that all of his purposes for humans will be fulfilled. You can be sure that God will bless his faithful ones and help them to reduce their anxiety about the past, the present, and the future.
SPEAK WITH SOMEONE YOU TRUST
17, 18. How can good communication help you when you feel anxious?
17 A fourth way you can find help when you feel anxious is by having open and honest communication with someone you trust. Your marriage mate, a close friend, or an elder in the congregation may be able to help you understand your situation better. The Bible tells us: “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” (Proverbs 12:25) The Bible also says: “Plans fail when there is no consultation, but there is accomplishment through many advisers.”—Proverbs 15:22.
18 Our congregation meetings further help us to reduce anxieties. At the meetings each week, you spend time with your brothers and sisters, who care about you and want to encourage you. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Such “an interchange of encouragement” will strengthen you and make it easier for you to overcome any anxiety.—Romans 1:12.
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH
19. Why can you be confident that your relationship with God will strengthen you?
19 An elder in Canada learned how important it is to throw his anxiety on Jehovah. He has a very stressful job as a schoolteacher and student adviser, and he also has a medical condition that causes anxiety. What has helped him to be strong? Above all, he works hard to strengthen his relationship with Jehovah. True friends have also been very helpful to him during difficult times, and he is open and honest with his wife about his feelings. Additionally, fellow elders and the circuit overseer helped him to consider his situation from Jehovah’s viewpoint. Also, a doctor helped this brother to understand his medical condition, and he was able to make changes to his schedule and find time to relax and exercise. Gradually, he learned how to control his situation and his feelings. When there are things that he cannot control, he relies on Jehovah to help him.
20. (a) How can we throw our anxiety on God? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
20 In this article, we have learned how important it is to throw our anxiety on God by praying to Jehovah and by reading his Word and meditating on it. We also learned how important it is to let Jehovah’s holy spirit help us, to talk to someone we trust, and to attend Christian meetings. In the next article, we will learn how Jehovah helps us by giving us the hope of a reward.—Hebrews 11:6.