Fear or Anxiety?

Fear or Anxiety?

Have you ever been plagued by either fear or anxiety? I’ve encountered a growing number of people who are fearful and anxious – often at the same time. With a behavioral science background, I’m fascinated with how people act, react, feel, adapt, change or fall apart.

Recent conversations have caused me to wonder about these two subjects and so with a short search through dictionary.com, I found concise definitions of both that I offer here:

            Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

            Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

In an insightful article in Psychology Today, Dr. Julian Humphreys describes the differences between fear, anxiety and stress. He offers some thoughts about how to recognize and handle all three. His focus is on the impact on leadership in the workplace.

Of course, the Bible also has some thoughts on these subjects and is my “go to” resource for anything spiritual and human. My experience has been that every human mentioned in the Bible either by name or reference is the same as any human who is living today. I’m always amazed at the similarities, challenges, world views and more that I find within the pages of Scripture. God’s Word is always spot on when it comes to the human condition.

For example, recognizing the tendency toward fear in humankind, God inserted 366 times in the Bible when we are admonished to “not be afraid.” In case you missed it, that is one for every day of the year, including leap year! God knows us so well.

Consider the Old Testament story of Joshua. He was given an unbelievable task – he was to follow in Moses’ footsteps and then lead the people of Israel (somewhere in the 1.5 million people category) into the Promised Land. I don’t know about you but just following in Moses’ footsteps is enough fear to cause some of us great discomfort.

Knowing humanity as He does, God greets Joshua with this news in Joshua 1:2, “Moses, my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River…” I don’t know about you, but this would have filled me with great fear. God, however, was ready, in Joshua 1:5-6, He proclaims this to Joshua, “No one will be able to stand against you all of the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous …” Of course, we know the rest of the story and Joshua did lead the people into the Promised Land, he did follow God’s instructions at Jericho, got a little over-confident at Ai but quickly learned to lean on God.

God also covered the anxiety part of life as well. In Philippians 4:6, He reminds us through Paul, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Then in verse 7 Paul says, “And the peace of  God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

There you have it! Did you read those words? Did you pay attention to what you read? Go back and read it again …

Don’t be anxious about anything (not some things, not a few things, not many things but don’t be anxious about anything (nothing, not one thing.)) Why? Because God has us and God has whatever is causing your anxiety.

God has us and God has whatever is causing your anxiety

But in every situation (how many situations? home only, work only, church only? No, in every situation (every, each one, all of them))

How – by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. The NLT version says, “Tell God what you need, and then thank Him for all He has done.” Look at all God has already done in your life – He saved you, He loves you unconditionally, He wants the best for you, He has plans for you since before the foundation of the world. Be grateful and know that He will never leave you or forsake you – HE. NEVER. GIVES. UP!

Then it comes – Peace, glorious peace. Not the temporal kind that the world gives but the peace that passes everything you know, can dream up or imagine. Jesus in John 14:27 says, My peace, I give you. Not as the world gives. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Let the fear and anxiety go, my friend. God has whatever is causing you to be afraid or anxious long before you were born. Release it to Him and then rest in the peace that only comes from Him.

Let it go!!! HE. NEVER. GIVES. UP!!

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Karen McGuire

Karen McGuire came to Lead Like Jesus in February 2004 following the first Lead Like Jesus Celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, in November 2003, where she served as the volunteer coordinator. She comes with vast experience in local church ministry and denominational work and has been instrumental in the formation of several successful nonprofit ventures, including two churches, a seminary, a medical missions organization, and a welfare-to-work program. Karen served on several church staffs, held many volunteer positions in her local church, and is a Bible study teacher and seminar and retreat leader. She has one son and two young adult granddaughters.

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