“Throw all your anxiety on [Jehovah], because he cares for you.”—1 PET. 5:7.
1, 2. (a) Why should we not be surprised when we experience some anxiety? (See opening picture.) (b) What will we consider in this article?
WE LIVE in very stressful times. Satan the Devil is bitterly angry and “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:17) Therefore, it is not surprising that at times even we, God’s servants, experience some feelings of anxiety. After all, on occasion, God-fearing servants of Jehovah in the past, such as King David, had “anxious concern.” (Ps. 13:2) Recall, too, that the apostle Paul experienced “anxiety for all the congregations.” (2 Cor. 11:28) But what can we do when we are overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety?
2 Our loving heavenly Father came to the aid of his servants in the past, and today he makes it possible for us to gain considerable relief from distress or anxiety. The Bible urges us: “Throw all your anxiety [“cares; worries,” ftn.] on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7) How, though, can you do that? Let us consider four ways that you can do so—by means of heartfelt prayer, by reading God’s Word and meditating on it, by tapping into Jehovah’s holy spirit, and by sharing your feelings with a trusted confidant. As we examine these four ways, see if you can identify practical steps that you want to take.
“THROW YOUR BURDEN ON JEHOVAH”
3. How can you “throw your burden on Jehovah” by means of prayer?
3 A first step we can take is to approach Jehovah in earnest prayer. When you are confronted by situations that cause uneasiness, apprehension, or anxiety, pour out your heart to your loving heavenly Father. The psalmist David begged Jehovah: “Listen to my prayer, O God.” Then in the same psalm, he said: “Throw your burden on Jehovah, and he will sustain you.” (Ps. 55:1, 22) After you have done all you can to solve a problem, heartfelt prayer will certainly accomplish more than worry. But how can prayer help you to avoid becoming overwhelmed by disquieting thoughts and anguish?—Ps. 94:18, 19, ftn.
4. When we are anxious, why is prayer so important?
4 Read Philippians 4:6, 7. Jehovah can respond to our earnest, heartfelt, and persistent supplications. How? By giving us inner calm that can free our mind and heart of disturbing emotions. Many can testify to this, based on their own experience. In place of anxiety, a distressing sense of foreboding, God helped them to gain a profound sense of peace and tranquillity that actually surpassed human understanding. That can be your experience too. Thus “the peace of God” can triumph over any challenge you may face. You can fully trust Jehovah’s compassionate promise: “Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes, I will help you.”—Isa. 41:10.
INNER PEACE FROM GOD’S WORD
5. How can God’s Word bring us inner peace?
5 A second way to gain inner peace is by reading Bible texts and meditating on them. Why is this important? The Bible contains practical spiritual guidance that can help you to avoid, reduce, or deal with anxiety. Do not overlook the fact that God’s Word is helpful and refreshing because it contains the Creator’s own words of wisdom. As you reflect on God’s thoughts—day or night—and consider how best to use the Bible’s practical guidance, you will be greatly strengthened. Jehovah specifically linked reading his Word with being “courageous and strong” and not being “struck with terror or fear.”—Josh. 1:7-9.
6. Jesus’ words can have what positive effect on you?
6 In God’s Word, we find Jesus’ soothing sayings. His words and teachings were a source of refreshment to his listeners. Multitudes were drawn to him because he calmed troubled hearts, strengthened the weak, and consoled the depressed. (Read Matthew 11:28-30.) He showed loving consideration for others’ spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. (Mark 6:30-32) Jesus’ promise of support still applies. It can prove to be as true for you as it was for the apostles traveling with Jesus. You do not have to be in Jesus’ physical presence to benefit. As heavenly King, Jesus continues to have and show empathy. Thus, when you are anxious, he can mercifully ‘come to your aid’ and ‘help you at the right time.’ Yes, Jesus can help you to cope with distress, and he can fill your heart with hope and courage.—Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:16.
GODLY QUALITIES PRODUCED BY GOD’S SPIRIT
7. How will you benefit as God responds when you ask for holy spirit?
7 Jesus promised that our Father in heaven will not fail to give holy spirit to those asking Him. (Luke 11:10-13) This puts at your disposal a third, powerful means to alleviate anxiety—the fruitage of the spirit. These positive qualities that are produced by God’s active force reflect the very personality of the almighty God. (Read Galatians 5:22, 23; Col. 3:10) As you cultivate the fruitage of that spirit, your relationship with others will improve. Thus, you will find that many situations that could otherwise cause anxiety do not arise. Reflect briefly on how the fruitage of the spirit will help you.
8-12. How can the fruitage of God’s holy spirit help you to deal with or avoid stressful situations?
8 “Love, joy, peace.” When you strive to deal respectfully with people, you will likely find that you are better able to deal with your own negative emotions. How is that so? Well, as you show brotherly love, tender affection, and honor, you will avoid situations that could cause anxiety.—Rom. 12:10.
9 “Patience, kindness, goodness.” You promote peaceful relationships by heeding the admonition: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another.” (Eph. 4:32) In so doing, you prevent situations from developing that could otherwise cause anxiety. Also, you can deal more effectively with situations that arise because of human imperfection.
10 “Faith.” Today, our anxiety is often related to concern over money and material possessions. (Prov. 18:11) Accordingly, strong faith in Jehovah’s loving care can help you to cope with or avoid such anxiety. How is that? You can avoid much anxiety by heeding the apostle Paul’s inspired counsel to be “content with the present things.” Paul adds: “For [God] has said: ‘I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you.’ So that we may be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”—Heb. 13:5, 6.
11 “Mildness, self-control.” Think how practical and effective it is for you to display those qualities. Thus, you will likely avoid actions that could cause anxiety for you personally, and you will benefit by avoiding “malicious bitterness, anger, wrath, screaming, and abusive speech.”—Eph. 4:31.
12 Admittedly, you will need humility to yield to “the mighty hand of God” and to “throw all your anxiety on him.” (1 Pet. 5:6, 7) But as you cultivate humility, you will be on a path that results in God’s favor and support. (Mic. 6:8) By maintaining a realistic estimate of your physical, mental, and emotional abilities, you will be less likely to become overwhelmed by anxiety, for you will be relying on God.
“NEVER BE ANXIOUS”
13. What did Jesus mean when he said: “Never be anxious”?
13 At Matthew 6:34 (read), we find Jesus’ profound advice: “Never be anxious.” It may, however, seem difficult to follow that advice. What did Jesus mean when he said: “Never be anxious”? Obviously, he could not have meant that a servant of God would not at some point in life experience anxiety; we have already noted the words of David and of Paul on this matter. But Jesus was helping his disciples to realize that undue, or extreme, anxiety does not solve problems. Each day has its own challenges, so Christians do not need to add anxious thoughts about the past or the future to the concerns of the present. How can you apply Jesus’ advice and experience relief from debilitating anxiety?
14. How can you deal with anxiety about your past?
14 Some anxiety may be caused by a person’s past actions or failings. He may be plagued with guilt about something he did in the past, even many years ago. At times, King David felt that his ‘errors loomed over his head.’ He admitted: “My anguished heart makes me groan aloud.” (Ps. 38:3, 4, 8, 18) In that situation, what was the wise thing for David to do? What did he do? He trusted in Jehovah’s mercy and forgiveness. With conviction he said: “Happy is the one whose transgression is pardoned.”—Read Psalm 32:1-3, 5.
15. (a) Why should you not be anxious about the present? (b) What practical steps can you take to reduce anxiety? (See the box “Some Practical Ways to Reduce Anxiety.”)
15 At other times, you may become anxious about the present. For instance, when David wrote Psalm 55, he feared for his life. (Ps. 55:2-5) Nevertheless, he did not allow anxiety to destroy his confidence in Jehovah. David made his problems a subject of fervent prayer, but he also understood the value of taking practical steps to deal with the cause of the anxiety. (2 Sam. 15:30-34) Learn a lesson from David. Instead of allowing anxiety to overwhelm you, take what steps you can to deal with the situation and then confidently leave matters in Jehovah’s hands.
16. How can the meaning of God’s name strengthen your faith?
16 Unwarranted anxiety often results if a Christian agonizes over possible future problems. However, you need not be consumed by anxiety, or worry, over events that you do not know anything about. Why not? Because things often do not turn out to be as bad as we feared they might be. Moreover, there is no situation beyond the control of the God on whom you can throw all your anxiety. His very name is understood to mean “He Causes to Become.” (Ex. 3:14) The profound meaning of the divine name assures us that God is fully capable of seeing to it that his purposes in behalf of his servants are carried out. You can be certain that God can reward his faithful ones and help them deal with anxiety about the past, the present, and the future.
17, 18. How can good communication help you to cope with anxiety?
17 A fourth way to help you cope with anxiety is good communication, sharing your feelings with a trusted confidant. A marriage mate, a close friend, or a congregation elder may be able to help you to put your anxiety into perspective. “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” (Prov. 12:25) Frank and honest communication can do much to help you to understand and deal with your concerns. The Bible tells us: “Plans fail when there is no consultation, but there is accomplishment through many advisers.”—Prov. 15:22.
18 Jehovah also helps Christians to deal with anxieties by means of weekly congregation meetings. There you can associate with fellow believers who are concerned about you and who want to encourage one another. (Heb. 10:24, 25) Such “an interchange of encouragement” will help to replenish your spiritual resources and make it easier for you to deal with any anxiety.—Rom. 1:12.
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD—YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH
19. Why can you be confident that your relationship with God will strengthen you?
19 Consider how a congregation elder in Canada learned the value of throwing his anxiety on Jehovah. He has a high-stress job as a schoolteacher and counselor, and he also has had to deal with an anxiety disorder. How has this brother coped? “Above all,” he explains, “I find that working hard to fortify my relationship with Jehovah gives me the greatest strength to cope with emotional difficulties. The support of true friends and spiritual brothers is vital in times of distress. I am open and honest with my wife about my feelings. Fellow elders and our circuit overseer were invaluable in helping me put things into perspective. I also sought medical help, made changes in the way I managed my time, and set aside time to relax and exercise. Gradually, I began to feel more in control. When there are things that I cannot control, I leave matters in Jehovah’s hands.”
20. (a) How can we throw our anxiety on God? (b) What will we discuss in the following article?
20 In summary, we have noted the value of throwing our anxiety on God by means of heartfelt prayer and by reading his Word and meditating on it. We also considered the value of cultivating the fruitage of his spirit, sharing our feelings with a trusted confidant, and drawing strength from upbuilding Christian association. The next article will discuss how Jehovah further sustains us by providing us with the hope of a reward.—Heb. 11:6.
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION