When we are afraid or suffer from anxiety, clichés don't do much to alleviate our fears. When was the last time you felt better when someone tossed a cliché your way? Sometimes we do the same thing with bible verses. We throw a couple verses at the problem hoping for a quick-fix. The bible, however, isn't cliché; it's life-giving and requires more cultivation than simply opening a Christian fortune cookie.
Judging people who suffer from anxiety doesn't help much, either. There has to be more hope for people who suffer from anxiety and fear than just clichés and judgment. I believe the crippling effects of fear in our lives can be remedied in the abundant life in Jesus who can bring peace to our chaos, joy to our grief, and clarity to our confusion. It takes deep trust and a deliberate strategy to shift our focus from fear to Christ.
David wrote Psalm 23 from his gut. He knew something about fear. He'd faced giants, wolves, and death threats all before he was an adult. After he became King, his political enemies -- including his own son -- all worked hard to overthrow him. So when David wrote, "The Lord is everything I need", he was writing from a deeply cultivated trust in God.
Here's what we can do to shift our focus from fear to Christ:
1] Go to God. It's what David did time and time again (Psalm 23:2-3). God can handle what we're dishing out, and his ears hear us when we throw our concerns his way (1 Peter 5:7).
2] Be in good company. David enjoyed God's companionship (23:4), but he also enjoyed the companionship of God's people in the Temple. We need to be with God's people in those places where our faith can be lifted. Are we making enough room in our lives for those places and those people who help us look to God?
3] Belly up to what God has served. David wrote, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." What are we feeding on? What are we consuming? We become what we consume, so if we are eating a steady diet of 24-hour bad news and social media drama, is it really all that puzzling why we are feeling more and more anxious these days? The merchants of fear are getting richer, and we are just getting more anxious.
I'm not saying be uniformed (although that does sound appealing at times), but we ought to be careful about what our spirit is feeding on. Some Bread of Life and Living Water and fruit of the Vine is a healthier alternative to the rubbish we are consuming vast quantities of.
Jesus is the cure for the curse, and he is the cure for the curse of our anxiety and fear. We just need to change our consuming habits.