Anxious for Nothing

By James M. Rochford

Picture5Anxiety cripples many people today. According to the ADAA, 18% of Americans suffer from anxiety, and many of these people are Christians.[1] Those caught in the grip of anxiety often cannot experience the abundant life that God has for them (Jn. 10:10), missing out on the joy of the Lord.

What is anxiety?

Backus defines anxiety as “fear in the absence of actual danger.”[2] Counselees with anxiety disorders are considered neurotic, not psychotic, because they are in touch with reality. Anxiety disorders include Panic Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Social Phobia, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorders also encompass various phobias, including acrophobia (fear of heights), zoophobia (fear of animals), claustrophobia (fear of small spaces), agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), and many others.

Panic Disorders consist of sudden distinct episodes of extreme anxiety which include four or more of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, sweating, shaking, or a fear of losing control or dying.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the obsession of intrusive, reoccurring, and compulsive thoughts. It includes repetitive behaviors according to certain rules or rituals (e.g. symmetry, organization, counting, hoarding, checking something over and over again). Jack Nicholson did an excellent job of portraying OCD in the movie, “As Good As It Gets.”

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most common anxiety disorder. Symptoms include excessive worry that interferes with daily functioning, and at least 3 of the following: muscle tension, insomnia, poor concentration, feeling restless or keyed-up, irritability, or fatigue. This disorder is more common in women and often occurs in people who also suffer from depression. However, men often self-medicate with alcohol and are less likely to share about this.

Causes of anxiety

Where do we begin in tackling this issue from a Christian perspective? Because anxiety is not a “one size fits all” problem, it is important to consider the various causes that can lead to this issue.

Existential anxiety

Without a Christian worldview, we are bound to suffer from anxiety. All people ask themselves: What is the purpose of my life? Why do I exist? Is my life significant or meaningful? Without answers to these profound questions, nothing will cure the deep sickness of the soul that confronts people in our post-modern times. This is what psychologist Victor Frankl called the “existential vacuum.”[3] He explains, “People have enough to live by but nothing to live for; they have the means but no meaning.”[4]

In his book An Atheist’s Guide to Reality, Alex Rosenberg addresses this existential angst. In his section titled “Take Two Prozac and Call Me in the Morning,” he writes,

So, what should we scientistic folks do when overcome by Weltschmertz (world-weariness)? Take two of whatever neuro-pharmacology prescribes. If you don’t feel better in the morning… or three weeks from now, switch to another one… What should you do if you feel the tragic sense of life, if you really feel you need to find the meaning of life in order to keep living, and if you feel nothing will meet that need? Scientism tells you to treat introspection as a symptom.[5]

In other words, if we cannot find meaning to life, we should simply medicate ourselves until we feel better! In considering Rosenberg’s advice, atheist Christopher Beha explains that he counts himself as one of “the disappointed disbelievers,” who is one of many atheists who “find themselves wishing they could believe, since now they have an itch and no way to scratch it.” In searching for answers, he writes,

So what are we to do about this unscratchable itch? Rosenberg’s answer in his book is basically to ignore it. The modern world offers lots of help in this effort. To begin with, there are pharmaceuticals; Rosenberg strongly encourages those depressed by the emptiness of the Godless world to avail themselves of mood-altering drugs. Then there are the pleasures of acquisitive consumer culture—the making of money and the getting of things.”[6]

So these are a few of the options regarding our existential vacuum: ignore it, medicate ourselves, or go shopping. If our worldview doesn’t offer meaning and purpose, perhaps we can find it in a pill (or pills), or maybe we can just buy some meaning at a Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, or Starbucks (“Can I have a cinnamon, venti latte… with extra meaning and purpose, please?”).

Believers in Christ reject such a reductionistic view. Anxiety is more than just an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. While we wouldn’t deny that there are biological causes for anxiety, we would deny that these are only caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. This view is similar to offering someone with a brain tumor some extra strength Tylenol: It might alleviate the symptoms but doesn’t cure the cancer.

Philosopher Blaise Pascal referred to humans as having a “God shaped vacuum” in their hearts. If God doesn’t fill this vacuum, nothing else will. And we certainly deny that any amount of prescription drugs or shopping sprees will ever suffice to cure this sickness deep within the human soul.

Circumstantial anxiety

Stress fills our lives in a variety of ways: busted transmissions, flat tires, pop quizzes, medical bills, and an infinite assortment of other poor circumstances. Our lives will never be free of such circumstances. Life always brings uncertainty in various ways, and many try to control their circumstances, or feel out of control when they cannot control them.

Moral anxiety

Whether or not you are a Christian, resisting God’s design will surely produce anxiety. One author rightly said, “Nobody ever broke the law of God. You break yourself against the law of God… You don’t break the law of gravity. You break your neck.”[7] Of course, God completely forgives believers for our sins (Rom. 8:1), but he doesn’t protect us from their consequences (Gal. 6:7; Heb. 12:14-17). When we live apart from God’s design, we feel a friction and chaffing on all of life. We don’t feel right. A dismal film colors everything we do. Without Christ as the leader of our lives, this shouldn’t surprise us. If we were made for Him, we won’t feel right living for anyone or anything else.

God will sometimes bring anxiety into the believer’s life through his Holy Spirit’s conviction. David wrote, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat” (Ps. 32:3-4 NLT). When we have something serious on our conscience, we certainly feel extra anxiety, because God is personally pressing on the nerves of our conscience. Of course, change comes when we confess our “sins to one another… so that [we] may be healed” (Jas. 5:16).

I once counseled a friend for three months on his anxiety, only to find out later that he had been using illegal drugs daily for the entire period. While his anxiety was very real, so was his hidden sin. Without confessing his hidden drug problem, we surely weren’t going to make grounds on his anxiety.

Demonic anxiety

The Bible teaches that Satan is very real, and he can play a role in our anxiety. Saul was terrorized by an evil spirit that “filled him with depression and fear” (1 Sam. 16:14 NLT). Paul tells us that prolonged sinful attitudes (like anger) can “give the Devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:27). Satan can bring discouragement and feelings of worthlessness on the believer, accusing us “day and night” (Rev. 12:10).

In counseling a friend for several months, I began to get the sense that Satan was involved in his anxiety and depression. We had eliminated the other possible causes: relational, biblical, medical, etc. But his depression and anxiety still persisted strongly. I began to regularly pray that Satan’s power would be released from him. Was I sure his depression was demonic in nature? No, but since the other bases were covered, I felt that this was worth pursuing. We’re never positive about Satan’s involvement in these issues, but we would be foolish to ignore Satan as a potential cause (1 Pet. 5:8).[8]

Materialistic anxiety

In his parable of the soils, Jesus claimed that one quarter of believers would be rendered inactive by “the worries of the world” (Mk. 4:18-19). Randy Alcorn claims that the Bible contains twice as many verses on money (2,350) than on faith and prayer combined,[9] and Jesus spoke of money in fifteen percent of his recorded words.[10] If we are depressed or anxious, we need to take stock of our materialistic interests and devotions. We cannot emphasize this enough: As believers, we cannot have an obsession with the world-system, and then wonder why we’re feeling anxious or depressed! The world-system is dominated by transitory and temporal values, which by definition will bring anxiety into our lives.[11]

Relational anxiety

Western culture grows more and more alienated. More people live alone today than ever before in human history. A recent study from Duke University found that people in America have only two people to confide in. And 25% of people have no one to confide in.[12] In his book Bowling Alone, sociologist Robert Putnam famously wrote, “More people watch Friends (on TV) than have them.” What sort of effect does such alienation have on us?

Psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary write, “Studies show that relationships… [result] in physical and emotional healing, happiness and life satisfaction, and prevents isolation and loneliness, major factors in depressive illness.”[13] Of course, the Bible is way ahead of these researchers: Human beings were created to be in community—not isolation. God said that it was “not good” for humans to be alone (Gen. 2:18). God himself is a community of persons—the Trinity—and therefore, it is hardwired into us to desire and need others. Without relationships, anxiety will always be just around the corner.

Ministry anxiety

The Bible warns about another source of anxiety that might surprise us: serving Christ. Christian service surely provides some of the most intense joy and happiness that we will ever experience. There is no imitation for feeling God working through you to speak or care for another person. But such ecstasy can also be replaced at times with intense pain and anxiety.

Throughout the NT, we see Paul anxious over those he leads. The Greek word merimnao means “anxiety,” and Paul uses this term to describe his love for those he leads. He writes, “There is the daily pressure on me of concern [merimna] for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). Elsewhere, Paul writes that we should have “care [merimnosin] for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25), and he approved of the fact that Timothy “was concerned [merimensei] for your welfare” (Phil. 2:20). Did you notice that the same Greek word used for unrighteous anxiety is also used for righteous care and concern for others (Greek merimnao)?

Of course, it is only natural to feel anxiety for those we lead. When we pour our time and energy into others, our hearts usually follow. Seeing our friends fall apart spiritually is tragic. But if we’re going to be worried about something, we should be concerned about others—not ourselves (Phil. 2:4). In other words, God wants us to exert the same time and energy that we naturally use to think about ourselves to think about others.

But this worry or concern for others can become obsessive if we’re not careful. While Paul was able to worry for others, he was simultaneously able to rest in Christ and experience the joy of the Lord. For instance, Paul expresses hard work when he writes, “I labored even more than all of them,” but he equally expresses proper rest in Christ, when he says, “Yet not I, but the grace of God within me” (1 Cor. 15:10; cf. Col. 1:29).

Consider Martha as an example of one who worked for Christ, but forgot to rest in him. From all we can tell about her, it seems that Martha was a good and godly woman (Jn. 11:5). In the gospel of Luke, she exercises her gift of hospitality, inviting Jesus and his friends to stay at her home (Lk. 10:38). This wasn’t the only time that she would serve the disciples in this way (Jn. 12:2), and she probably made a habit of it. But Luke tells us of a major contrast between Martha and her sister Mary. Mary was “seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations” (Lk. 10:39-40).

Surely many Christian workers can relate to Martha. She was probably an active temperament. And like most active temperaments, she was judging the inactivity of the people around her. She was probably thinking to herself: “Why can’t everyone be as hardworking as me?” But unlike the rest of us who just think this without saying it, Martha was bold enough to speak up. She careened into the living room, saying to Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me!” (Lk. 10:40)

Martha’s service wasn’t wrong, but there was something wrong with it: She was obsessed with working for Christ without resting in him. Martha was operating out of self-effort, and it shouldn’t surprise us that anxiety filled her. Thus we find Jesus correcting her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10:41-42). Jesus certainly believed that serving him was incredibly important (Jn. 4:34; 13:17; Acts 20:35; Mt. 22:37-39). But he says that drawing strength from him is “necessary” in order to do this. If we don’t listen to Jesus on this point, anxiety will fill us.

Many workers and leaders for Christ have still never learned this simple but profound lesson. They are plagued with ministry anxiety. They haven’t learned that the most spiritual thing they can do for those around them is to sit quietly in front of the word of God. They haven’t learned that what their people need the most is a leader that has been transformed by Christ’s word (Jn. 17:17), who is full of faith (Rom. 10:17), who has the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), and who has let the word of Christ richly dwell within them (Col. 3:16). Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:30). If we are fraught with constant ministry anxiety, then we are not in the yoke with Christ. Like Martha, we are operating out of self-effort. Pastor Chuck Smith writes,

What I mean by devotional life is that private time the pastor spends with God. The time that is essential for feeding your own soul; that time of drawing close to God in personal worship. Not that time of sermon preparation or prayer for the ministry, but rather that time of personal study and intimate communion with God. What makes this so difficult for the pastor is his lack of time and the demands of the congregation. You will be tempted to feel that you should be attending to more urgent matters. You may even feel guilty that you take this time for yourself when others need you so badly. The usual approach is to begin to combine your devotional time with your sermon study time, and this is easy to justify because you are in the word. This temptation must be resisted! The pastor’s devotional time must become the greatest priority of his life. You must recognize the importance of this! You must make the necessary time! If you neglect this important discipline, you will begin to personally dry up spiritually, and that will begin to affect your ministry! You must resist the temptation to lessen its importance! You must resist the tyranny of the urgent and seek the eternal! This is what will make you the most effective person for God in the long run![14]

Christ doesn’t merely want us to do the right things; he wants to change us into the right people. As Francis Schaeffer writes, we need to do “the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way.”[15]

Learned anxiety

Many (or even all) of us learn anxiety from those around us. Collins writes, “If a mother is anxious during a thunderstorm, her young child will learn to be anxious. If a child is taught that speaking to strangers can be dangerous, then he or she may feel anxious in situations where no familiar people are present.”[16] Many people falsely believe that their upbringing and influences were normative, when in fact they are not. We often need to unlearn what we have learned from others around us.

A Key Passage: Philippians 4

Paul writes his letter to the Philippians while under house arrest in Rome. The Roman government chained a guard to Paul and locked him up for several years on unjust charges.

From what we know about Paul, he must have been a strong-willed personality. It must have been torture to be chained to a Roman guard, while he was the most gifted Christian leader and scholar of his day! We would expect that this would send him into a deep depression, or perhaps, he would be worried sick about the churches he had planted throughout the world.

But as we read through Philippians, we get a different picture entirely. Instead of feeling sorry for himself or feeling bouts of anxiety, we find Paul rejoicing. He mentions “joy” or “rejoicing” sixteen times in this little, four chapter book. It is in this letter that Paul tells us, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). He continues, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil. 4:12).

What was this “secret” that Paul had learned? The secret is obvious to anyone who reads his letter: He learned how to rejoice in the Lord.

We have to ask ourselves if Paul would have learned this secret, if he had not been forced into this situation by God. We’re not sure that he would have. God will often lead us into situations that we are unable to handle on our own strength or self-effort. Paul told the Corinthians: “We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God” (2 Cor. 1:8-9). Paul was learning this lesson here. He writes,

(Phil. 4:4) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

Notice that the word “rejoice” (Greek chairo) is a verb—not an adjective or noun. It is an action—not a feeling. Paul writes that believers are “sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). If rejoicing is a feeling, then how could believers be sorrowful when doing it? He continues,

(Phil. 4:5) Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

The word for “gentle” (Greek epiekes) literally means “not insisting on every right of letter of law or custom.”[17] Much of our anxiety comes from dwelling on what we feel that we deserve. When we have high expectations for what we deserve, we constantly feel disappointed. By contrast, Paul tells us that we shouldn’t focus on what we deserve; instead, we should focus on the coming of Christ. In effect, he says, “Focus on what you’re getting that you don’t deserve… Christ!” He continues,

(Phil. 4:6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

How can we be “anxious for nothing”? Many believers mistakenly believe that Paul is calling for inactivity. As they try to follow Paul’s wisdom, the believer might sit still, trying not to think about their problems. But very quickly, we find that this only worsens our anxiety.

No, Paul isn’t calling for inactivity. Instead, he is calling on us to be active in the right activity: prayer. Similarly, Peter counsels, “Cast all your anxiety (merimnaō) on God because he cares (melei) for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). Did you notice the play on words in the Greek? The same word is used for our “anxiety” and God’s “care” for the anxious. Literally, this passage reads: “Give your anxiety to God, because he is anxious for you.” It’s God’s job to worry about our needs and problems—not ours. Our job is to trust that he is worrying about us.

We often think of this only in terms of major problems. We wait until something terrible happens to begin this sort of prayer. But notice that Paul says pray for “everything.” The anxiety ridden believer needs to learn this discipline. We can’t wait to pray until we are overwhelmed with anxiety. Instead, prayer is the way to replace and release our anxiety day by day—hour by hour—minute by minute. “Supplication” (Greek densei) is a specific form of prayer that literally means an “urgent request to meet a need.”[18] Here we actively trust God for his provision.

But it would be a mistake to overlook the central component to this discipline. Paul writes that we should pray “with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving guards our prayer session from turning into an anxiety fest, where we wind up worrying even more. Biblically, we haven’t really dealt with our anxiety, until we have learned to give thanks during it.

This must have been a key to Paul’s ability to finding joy in the midst of suffering. He says that he was “always giving thanks” (Eph. 5:20), and we should give thanks “in everything” (1 Thess. 5:18). He tells us that this isn’t just an action, but we should develop “an attitude of thanksgiving” in prayer (Col. 4:2). As children of God and inheritors of eternal life, is it really all that difficult to always find something for which to give thanks?

Paul teaches that those who refuse to give thanks have their “hearts darkened” (Rom. 1:21). A refusal to give thanks to God has a poisoning effect on the mind. Psychologists Wehrenberg and Prinz write, “People who have difficulty recognizing positives are more prone to anxiety, depression, and addiction.”[19] Likewise, psychologist Robert Emmons (professor of psychology at the University of California) has found that giving thanks results in a number of positive “side-effects” in his subjects:[20]

-more positive and optimistic appraisals of one’s life

-more time spent exercising

-fewer reported physical symptoms

-more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or offered emotional support to another

-more sleep

-better sleep quality

-a sense of connectedness to others

Thus even these secular researchers have corroborated this core biblical teaching. We find that just after five or ten minutes of giving thanks in prayer, our entire demeanor has changed. Our spirit is lifted. This is what Paul talks about next:

(Phil. 4:7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Do you have the peace of God? This peace is available to all believers, and the key to finding it—the “secret” as Paul calls it—is learning the discipline of giving thanks. Paul tells us that we should keep our focus on really anything that is positive—not just spiritual things. He writes,

(Phil. 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

It is our natural inclination to be negative. We can be blessed over and over again by God, but without a thankful posture, we only whine for what we do not have. Believers often miss opportunities to give thanks for the blessings in their lives. They’ll even say things like, “I’m just a lucky guy.” But nothing could be further from the truth. As Christians, we should never call ourselves lucky. Atheists are lucky. Christians are blessed.

Paul uses the term “dwell” (logizomai) to describe this process. This term means “to determine by mathematical process, reckon, calculate”[21] or “to give careful thought to a matter, think (about), consider, ponder, let one’s mind dwell on.”[22]

(Phil. 4:9) The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Paul closes this section by emphasizing our role in battling anxiety. Many people like to talk about their anxiety, but they never reach the point of doing anything about it. Our role is not to needlessly worry about all of the particulars of life. Instead, it is to practice prayer, giving thanks, and developing a conscious mindset on our blessings. Only then will we experience the peace that God offers us.

Practical Suggestions

Learn to trust in the sovereignty of God. If anxiety is fear in the absence of real danger, then understanding the sovereignty of God is at the heart of curing anxiety. Solomon states:

(Prov. 2:8) [God] guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

(Prov. 3:25-26) Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, 26 for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.

(Prov. 4:23) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

(Prov. 29:25) Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Recognize spiritual warfare. Learn to recognize Satan’s accusations by asking a number of simple questions:

(1) Does the thought make God seem sadistically restrictive (Gen. 3:1)?

(2) Does it contain a half-truth (Gen. 3:5; Mt. 4)?

(3) Does it push you toward others or away from others (Heb. 10:25)?

(4) Does it urge you to serve, or does it create a feeling of defeatism (Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 4:3)?

(5) Does it get you to focus on comparison or performance (2 Cor. 10:12)?

(6) Does it get you to dwell on your failings or mistakes (Phil. 3:13)?

Determine your responsibility in anxiety. Believers often feel guilty for feeling anxious. But this really shouldn’t be our focus. Yes, anxiety is a sin. And yet, we shouldn’t dwell on our anxious feelings, but our actions that lead to our anxiety. What did you do to lead to feeling anxious? What was in your control? What was out of your control?

Reflect on God’s provision. The psalmist writes, “I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds” (Ps. 77:12). Write out a list of how God has provided for you in the past. List how you felt worried beforehand but how God provided.

Don’t think of anxiety in a binary way. Believers often think of anxiety in a black and white fashion (“Either I have an anxiety problem, or I don’t” “Either I’m sick, or I’m cured”). Instead, picture your anxiety on a spectrum of one to ten. If today was a “7,” and yesterday was a “9,” then this is progress. Give it time. Spiritual growth doesn’t occur overnight, but it is God’s will to transform you (1 Thess. 4:3; Phil. 1:6).

Don’t focus on how you’re feeling. Focusing on your feelings throughout the day is self-focused and doesn’t help. However, it is important to take your emotional temperature once a day. Journal about how you felt today. What triggered your anxiety? What gave you joy? Collins writes, “Impatience often accompanies anxiety, and anxious people want help in handling their pressures quickly. It can be very hard to wait for God’s perfect time schedule.”[23]

Write out what you’re anxious about. As we bring these fears into the light, they often evaporate. It’s as we articulate these fears openly that we often realize how exaggerated these dangers really are.

Model stability. As a counselor, we can be a bedrock of stability to those stuck in anxiety. Collins writes, “The Christian counselor can be an example of one who is calm and trusting in God to meet needs.”[24]

Further Reading

Amen, Daniel G., and Lisa C. Routh. Healing Anxiety and Depression. New York: Putnam, 2003.

Burns, David D. When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life. New York: Morgan Road, 2006.

Hart, Archibald D. The Anxiety Cure: You Can Find Emotional Tranquility and Wholeness. Nashville, TN: Word Pub. 1999.

Leahy, Robert L., and Stephen J. Holland. Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders. New York: Guilford, 2000.

McCallum, Dennis. “Cultivating a Tender Heart”

McCallum’s article addresses the plight of ministry pain and anxiety. We have read this over a dozen times, and each time, it speaks powerfully.

Schwartz, Jeffrey M.; Begley, Sharon. The Mind and the Brain. New York, NY: HarperCollins. 2009.

Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz is one of the leading psychiatrists in the world, who specializes in the field of neuro-plasticity (i.e. how the brain will physically change based on thought patterns). Schwartz specializes in working with OCD patients. Through his personally developed therapy, he found that OCD patients were able to change their thought-patterns. As a result, this changed the physical structure of the brain and its neural pathways. In his later book You Are Not Your Brain (2011), Schwartz explains how patients had the choice of medication or his therapy. He writes, “Much to our delight, we found that people who used our four step method had the same positive changes in their brains as the people who took medications to treat their OCD. These incredible brain changes occurred because of our minds’ ability to change our brains.” (see Introduction)

Wehrenberg, Margaret, Psy.D. Steven Prinz, M.D. The Anxious Brain: The Neurobiological Basis of Anxiety Disorders and How to Effectively Treat Them. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.

Wehrenberg and Prinz are secular psychologists, but interestingly, they affirm the mind-body distinction (p.37). They utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (v.158), which we feel is closest to biblical principles. They explain the physical and biological components to anxiety, explain the proper use of SSRI medication, and strategies for battling panic disorder, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety.

Welch, Edward T. Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest. Greensboro, NC: New Growth, 2007.


[1] Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Facts and Statistics.”

[2] Backus, William. Chapian, Marie. Telling Yourself the Truth. Minneapolis, MN: Baker Publishing Group. 2000. 68.

[3] Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning: an Introduction to Logotherapy. 3rd Ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. 111-112.

[4] Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning: an Introduction to Logotherapy. 3rd Ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. 142.

[5] Rosenberg, Alexander. The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. 282-285.

[6] Beha, Christopher. “The Literary Response to Radical Atheism.” Harpers. July 9, 2012.

[7] Havner, Vance, and Dennis J. Hester. When God Breaks Through: Sermons on Revival. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2003. 42.

[8] We are not able to blame our problems on Satan, as believers. While Satan influenced the first humans to eat of the forbidden fruit, the culpability fell on them—not purely on Satan. Likewise, when believers try to excuse their sin by claiming, “Satan made me do it!” we should rightly remind them that Satan can cause problems, but we are responsible for how we react to them. Likewise, while a person is a cause for a man’s alcoholism by buying him a beer, the man is ultimately responsible because he chose to drink it.

[9] Alcorn, Randy C. Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2003. 3.

[10] Alcorn, Randy C. Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2003. 4.

[11] For more on this topic, see our earlier article “Does Money Make Us Happy?”

[12] Fountain, Henry. “The Lonely American Just Got a Bit Lonelier.” The New York Times. July 2, 2006.

[13] Roy F Baumeister, and Mark R Leary, “The Need to Belong: Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation,” Psychological Bulletin, 1995, 117(3)497-529.

[14] Chuck Smith, Pastor’s Textbook.

[15] Schaeffer, Francis A. No Little People. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003. 63.

[16] Collins, G. R. (2006). Christian counseling: a comprehensive guide (3rd ed., p. 147). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[17] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[18] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[19] Wehrenberg, Margaret, Psy.D. Steven Prinz, M.D. The Anxious Brain. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. 45.

[20] Robert A. Emmons “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2003, Vol. 84, No. 2, 377–389.

[21] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 597). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[22] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 598). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[23] Collins, G. R. (2006). Christian counseling: a comprehensive guide (3rd ed., p. 143). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[24] Collins, G. R. (2006). Christian counseling: a comprehensive guide (3rd ed., p. 143). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.