An Anxious Heart

By Pastor Teck Uy

It is not surprising to see that many are living in anxiety, because we are living in a troubled world. The Lord Jesus Christ appropriately described this world when he said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). While such is the condition of this world, it is comforting to know that we are not left without hope. We will certainly overcome the challenges that we shall face as we trust in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, if we choose to let anxiety prevail, no one else will suffer but us. The Book of Proverbs states: “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (Prov. 12:25). Anxiety is a cruel master. It can cause anyone to be so burdened that he will literally stoop down. No wonder some even end up hunchbacked as a consequence of the heavy load they are carrying.

Those who are suffering from anxiety are not without help made available to them. Jesus himself offered relief from anxiety when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). This rest that Jesus offers is the rest to the soul. While our physical body can easily get rested and refreshed, it is not so with our soul. Unless the Lord gives us rest to our soul, we can be in bed the whole night but we shall find no relief from our burden. For us to be rested in our souls, the best step to take is to humbly approach the Lord Jesus Christ and cast all our anxieties upon him. It is a great exchange he is offering – our burdens for his. In this exchange, it is lopsided in our favour because the burden we receive from the Lord in exchange for ours is light compared to the burden we give him. Whether we get the needed relief or not will all depend on how we respond to Jesus’ invitation now.

In the same way that words can cause anxiety, it can also be a relief. A kind word will surely cheer up those who are loaded with burdens. This is particularly so when these words relay unexpected good news as emphasized in the Book of Proverbs: “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land” (Prov. 25:25). In ministering to those who are suffering from anxiety attacks, we must be very careful about our words. We might unnecessarily add more to their burden by our reckless words. Because of the condition they are in, they tend to react swiftly and negatively when we do not say the right word, or we might have the right words but have said it at the wrong time.

In his epistle, the apostle Paul admonished believers not to be anxious. He said that anxiety should be confronted with “prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). Since we cannot do anything about our situation, it is better to entrust it to the one who can give us peace. We should not spend our time and energy thinking and lamenting about our situation or else we burden no one else but ourselves. The apostle Paul also gave us a better way to overcome our anxious heart when he said, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9).

When we are anxious we also tend to be rash and take matters in our hands. This is exactly what happened to Saul when he was crowned king of Israel. While he was commanded by the prophet Samuel to wait for him to offer a sacrifice on the seventh day, he made the sacrifice himself when he could not see Samuel coming. He did it because he was anxious about what might happen to him before a sacrifice can be offered to God. His anxiety was caused by the fact that the enemies surrounding him were numerous and his own soldiers were quaking with fear. But just as he was finishing, Samuel arrived. This action of King Saul displeased the Lord and it started his downfall as king. Had he waited a little bit more, his kingdom could have endured forever. Friends, let us not allow anxiety to grip our heart so that we are taken captive by it. Instead, let us respond to the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ to take his yoke and burden because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Let us also open our hearts to him and welcome him in our life. He said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Rev. 3:20). He will keep us in perfect peace as he gives rest to our soul. Hallelujah!