Paul didn't mince words when he identified the problem of anxiety. The term he used for anxious in Philippians 4:6 is from the Greek word merimnaó, which shows up in the New Testament nineteen times. It's the word Jesus used when He said, "Do not worry about your life" (Matthew 6:25). He used it again when He spoke to a distracted, busy Martha, saying, "You are worried and troubled about many things" (Luke 10:41). And Paul used it when he told the church at Corinth, "I want you to be without care" (1 Corinthians 7:32).
Merimnaó comes from two Greek words, the first of which means to tear or separate, and the second of which means the mind. So the biblical concept of worry or anxiety literally means to tear the mind. It's an apt description. Anxiety divides your mind between legitimate concerns and destructive thoughts, ripping it in two different directions. It leaves you double-minded, unstable in everything you do (see James 1:5-8).
Many things can cause anxiety—health, the holidays, unexpected hardships, current events—and our reasons for worrying are often multifaceted and complex. Add to that the fact that most people in the world face life without any real purpose, believing that they inhabit an inexplicable universe that has no rhyme, reason, or God. That's a lonely, frightening place to be.
Of course, the unbelieving world recognizes that anxiety is rampant, and a lot of well-meaning psychologists, doctors, therapists, and counselors are trying to help stem the tide. It's not hard to find advice about how to cope with anxiety. One well-researched and well-intended article said, "Our goal shouldn't be to dismiss [anxiety] entirely—just to make it a healthy, manageable part of our lives."
We're left with the seemingly reasonable idea that the best we can do is manage our anxiety and keep it from overwhelming us. But if you belong to Christ, is that enough for you? Are you satisfied with that answer? Because God offers us a way to eliminate anxiety, as impossible as that might sound. Ask Him to open your heart and mind to the truth that He is enough to help you face all your problems. Tomorrow we'll look at our Great Physician's prescription for our very real worries.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:25 ESV