How to Handle Anxiety

July 2nd, 2013

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7

We all have things about which we are anxious. Among them are our children, mortgage, job, parents, and health. But there is a difference between concern and anxiety. These are all things for which we should be properly concerned. There is some question, however, whether we should be anxious about them.

“Take heed to yourselves,” Jesus said, “lest your hearts be weighed down with . . . [the] cares of this life” (Luke 21:34). When legitimate concerns begin to weigh us down, that is when we begin to experience anxiety. Jesus spoke of anxiety using another metaphor: There “are those,” he said, “who hear the word, but the cares of the world . . . enter in and choke the word” (Mark 4:18-19). The word anxiety comes from the root for “strangle.” We can always tell how anxious we are by how fast we are breathing.

Peter had every reason to be anxious. He was writing at the time of Nero’s persecution of the Christians. He tells of their being “tested by fire” (1 Pet. 1:7). But he also gives those he is writing to an antidote to anxiety. “Cast all your anxieties on him,” he writes, referring to God, “for he cares about you.”

Easier said than done, to be sure. But that is why we have one another. Christians remind one another that God cares. “My grace,” Paul heard God say in his illness, “is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). “Do not be anxious about your life,” Jesus said, “but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:25, 33).

Most of us have two types of anxiety. One is about the past, which goes by such names as guilt, grief, regret, remorse. All are perfectly natural, and all tend to weigh us down from time to time and speed up our breathing. There is also anxiety about the future, which goes by such names as worry, stress, ambition, fear. Either way, past or future, anxiety takes us out of the present.

So how do we “cast our anxieties” on God? Grace moves us to meditate, which is something we would never do on our own. We find ourselves meditating. We may lose the present in anxiety, but we never lose the presence—if, that is, we are anxious enough to find ourselves moved to meditate. Meditating on one phrase at a time from the Lord’s Prayer is one way to do it. A single word like Jesus is another way. We say the first syllable as we inhale and the second as we exhale.

Peter and the other first Christians were ultimately able to win out over the persecutions because they found themselves casting their anxieties on God. The blood of the martyrs, as the old saying goes, became the seed of the church.


Help me practice your presence each day so that when I am most anxious you will be most present. Amen.

excerpt from: Practical Grace: How to Find God in the Everyday by Robert K. Hudnut. Copyright©2013 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

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