I transcribed this blog post from a radio broadcast in 1961 by the late, great evangelist, Billy Graham:
“Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and his will for our lives. When we make anything else our goal, we are destined to end in frustration and defeat. Adam and Eve tried this escapism in the Garden of Eden thousands of years ago. They sewed fig leaves on themselves in order to hide from God and the realities of their changed relationship to God. They were separated from God by sin. They made gods of other things. God never meant for you to live this kind of life, and you will never find peace of mind or security and joy in these temporal things that you’re rushing around with. You will only find it if you repent of your sins and come to Jesus Christ as your savior. It is only as we have daily fellowship with God that we find the abiding peace that we are so desperately searching for. Get your eyes on Christ. Idolize Him. Worship Him. He will never fail. He gives life its balance, security, and its peace.
Now don’t misunderstand me. Anxiety in itself is not wrong. Certain types of anxiety are natural and normal. Jesus warned, in the Sermon on the Mount, against the wrong kind of anxiety. He said, “Take no thought of what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink or wherewithal you shall be clothed, for your Heavenly Father knows you have need of theses things before you ask. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” We think we can cure ourselves without God’s help, but man’s self-sufficiency is playing out. Psychology can often relieve the mind and physicians can help the body. But only God can save the soul, and it is the soul that is the basis for our spiritual problems and conflicts. The basic cause of much of our anxiety is beyond the reach of the psychologist or the physician. They tinker with the symptoms of anxiety, but only God has the cure. It’s Jesus Christ who said, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” He will give you mental, spiritual, and physical rest if you put your trust in Him.
However, it’s no use to tell people not to worry when they have just cause to worry. I’m not of the philosophy of the school of thought which glibly proclaims, “Smile, and the world smiles with you.” The truth is that millions of people have every reason to worry because their lives are so tangled by selfishness and twisted by sin. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin, unrighteousness, and judgment to come. It’s a glorious thing when you come to the point of being deeply concerned about your sin until you turn to Jesus Christ who takes away the sin of the world.
Anxiety and tension exist when our basic needs haven’t been met. You can’t quell a baby’s anxiety with a rattle when he’s hungry. He’ll keep crying until his hunger is satisfied by the food his little body demands. Neither can the soul of a man be satisfied apart from God. David spoke of the hunger of all men when he said, “As the deer pants for the water brook, so my soul pants after thee, O God.” The genius of the gospel of Christ is that it has diagnosed the soul of man, discovered his need, and provided a cure. You’ll never be the person you ought to be, no matter how many synthetic remedies you try and apply, until you hear and heed Jesus’s words. “Be not anxious, but first seek the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.
Anxiety is to be expected if your basic needs haven’t been met in Christ. Who can face the fact of his own inherent weakness and sin? Who can face the fact of suffering in the world? Who can face the fact of life’s inequalities? Who can face the fact of eternity and judgment and not be anxious if he hasn’t come face-to-face with Christ? A man who is away from God can be expected to be fraught with phobias, fears, traumas, psychosis, and complexities. When Peter declared that in Christ we have one who will dissolve our anxieties and tensions and share our burdens, he underlined the theological fact that in Adam, all die. But in Christ, all can be made alive. What a wonderful thing it is to cast all our cares on Him, for he cares for us. It is the gospel that has the power to heal mind, soul, and body.
To all who wish to be rid of anxiety, I will make 3 simple suggestions:
- Stop seeking the trivial things of this life and seek the kingdom of God as it is revealed in Christ.
- Get your eyes off of yourself and focus them upon Christ first and others second.
- Commit yourself fully to Christ. Don’t be a half-surrendered Christian.
You may be on a beach, you may be at a mountain resort, you may be in the living room of your home, you may be driving in your car and you are filled with tension, anxiety, difficulties, and troubles. Surrender to Christ and let His peace be your peace today.”