josh longanecker life groups pastor at james river church
By: Josh Longanecker08/29/18

God’s Answer to Fear and Anxiety

“Daddy, don’t let go!” my daughter pleaded, terrified of what might happen if I did. I had been teaching her to ride her bike, running alongside her, holding onto the seat to help her balance. When the time came for me to let go, she would freak out every time.

Despite the helmet and all the safety precautions we had in place, fear and anxiety were overpowering her so much that she was too frightened to move forward. We stopped on the side of the road, and I knelt down and looked her in the eyes, trying to calm her nerves:

“Has your father ever let you fall? Don’t I always catch you?”
“I know…But what if I fall?! What if I crash?! I don’t want to get hurt!”
“Look, I am going to be running right beside you the whole time. I’ll be right here to catch you if you fall, but I need you to trust me.” Then I smiled at her and added, “You are going to love riding your bike, and I cannot wait until you and I can go on bike rides together. The first step is me letting go and you doing what I know you can do! You are strong enough to pedal and good enough to stay up. You can do this!”

We had that pep talk countless times until she finally believed me and started pedaling on her own. In time, she got the hang of riding and was soon zooming down our street! Now, a few years later, one of our favorite things to do when the weather is beautiful is go on bike rides together through our neighborhood.

The most common mental illness in the U.S. are anxiety disorders

While I’d like to think the fear and anxiety associated with the “what ifs” in life are just a childish phase that everyone eventually grows out of, that isn’t the case. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the most common mental illness in the U.S. are anxiety disorders, affecting nearly one in five adults every year. The New York Times cites that Americans are among the most anxious people in the world, causing us to spend over $2 billion on anti-anxiety medications every year.

As a culture, we are stuck biting our collective nails, and all we get for our anxiety is increased health problems! We all know that worry will not help us solve anything, and despite our medications and self-help books, every time something large or unknown comes up in our lives, the “what ifs” kidnap our minds, holding our thoughts and feelings hostage.

What is the answer to anxiety?

The Bible speaks a lot about fear and worry. One passage which has helped me personally is Romans 8:14-15: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father’” (NLT).

Understand your identity

When we truly grasp what it means to be adopted into the family of God as His children, our fears begin to subside. When a person places faith in Jesus, they take on a new identity. As a Christian, you are no longer trapped in fear because you are a child of the King of kings! You are an heir of God’s glory along with Christ! Not only that, you are one of his favorite children!

He was thinking of you before you were even born! Scripture says, “Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son” Ephesians 1:4-6 (MSG).

Next time you worry about a bill you need to pay or a situation at work, ask yourself, “Would a favorite child of the most powerful King in all the universe, in all of history, have to worry about something like this?” I would imagine the answer is no.

Know who your Father is

You have a heavenly Father who made the universe by merely speaking the words! He made a dead man come back to life by simply calling his name! He controls the course of history; He sets up kings and rulers, He is above all rule, all power, and all authority in heaven and on earth!

If this powerful God is your Father and He loves you so genuinely that He was thinking about you before time began, who or what could ever stand against you? With a Father like that looking after us, what do we have to worry about?

Run to your Father

I would venture to say that most of the anxiety in my life comes when I get my eyes off my Father and onto my situation. I am not saying that we should be unaware of what is going on around us, but instead we must have a greater awareness of God’s immeasurable power and His great love for us than of the problems we face.

The image Romans 8:14-15 paints for us is that of a child crying out for their daddy. When a child cries for their father like that, merely being in the arms of their dad calms all fears. Anxiety no longer binds us because we can run to our Father.

The truth of the matter is our fears have done nothing but hold us back from the freedom offered in Christ. Jesus said it best in Luke 12:25-26, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?” (NLT).

When we know who we are in Christ, and who our heavenly Father is, we do not need to worry because we can take anything to Him.
So let me ask you, has your Father ever let you fall? Doesn’t He always catch you? He is running right beside you. Because of Him, you are strong enough to overcome and good enough to stand up! You can do this!