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Anxious For Nothing (Young Readers Edition)

Anxious For Nothing (Young Readers Edition)

by Max Lucado

Learn More | Meet Max Lucado
Have you ever felt worried about something big in your life? Have you ever felt worried about something small? Or have you ever felt worried for no reason at all—like the feeling you get when you know a thunderstorm is coming? You’re afraid something bad is going to happen even though it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe you get an upset feeling in your stomach. Or maybe it’s a thought you can’t stop thinking about.

When you feel worried like this, you are feeling anxiety.

When you feel anxious, you may not sleep well. Or maybe you don’t laugh as much or enjoy being outside like you used to.

Anxiety brings a cloud over our heads, making life feel a little darker and a little scarier. Anxiety can also cause us to ask a lot of questions that start with these two words: what if.

What if I don’t make any friends at school this year?

What if my teacher is rude?

What if my parents don’t stop fighting?

What if I don’t get to have a birthday party this year?

What if my phone gets taken away?

What if I don’t make the team?

What kinds of “what if” questions do you ask? We all ask these kinds of questions. We all feel anxiety from time to time. Some of us feel it every day.

Anxiety Versus Fear

Anxiety is similar to fear, but these two feelings are quite different.

You feel fear when you know your body is in danger or someone else is in danger. Fear tells you, “Get out!” If you were walking outside and saw a rattlesnake on the ground, you would probably start walking (or running) away from the snake, right? That’s because fear would tell you that you are in danger and need to get to a safe place. In this way, fear can be healthy. It protects you from bad things.

Fear tells you, “Get out!” Anxiety makes you ask, What if?

Anxiety causes you to ask, What if? That question can make you imagine all kinds of things you are afraid of that aren’t really there. Fear tells you to run when you see a rattlesnake. Anxiety tells you to always feel afraid when you’re outside because what if there’s a snake?

See the difference?

Fear protects us from real dangers. Anxiety makes us think there’s danger when there really isn’t.

Where Is All This Anxiety Coming From?

The Bible says, “Worry is a heavy load” (Proverbs 12:25). Carrying worries through the day can feel like hauling a giant backpack up a mountain. Anxiety is such a heavy burden that it can harm our bodies as well as our minds. It can cause us to lie awake at night. It can cause our bodies to hurt or our stomachs to ache. It can make us feel sad and lonely.

Anxiety isn’t fun.

Chances are that you or someone you know seriously struggles with anxiety. Doctors have found that one-third of teens ages thirteen to eighteen have an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is when you feel a lot of anxiety a lot of the time. An anxiety disorder can make doing everyday things like going to school or a friend’s birthday party feel hard or scary. Doctors also found that a lot of these teens started feeling anxiety at a younger age, usually around eleven years old and some as young as seven years old.

Some more bad news: the United States seems to be more anxious than other countries. We spend more money on medicine that treats anxiety, and we’ve reported more sicknesses caused by anxiety than other countries in the world.

Why? Why are we so anxious? There are a few reasons. One big source is technology.

Smartphones, the Internet, social media—all of these can make us feel extra anxious. In fact, at the time social media became popular, kids started going to the doctor more for problems related to anxiety and depression. (Depression is a constant feeling of sadness, which often happens because of anxiety.)

There are other reasons we might be anxious. Today, everything moves at the speed of a turbojet. Our ancestors didn’t have the technology to build planes or fast cars, so they didn’t travel much. Now we can drive to a new city or fly to a new country in hours. Things can change quickly when you are always on the go. That fast pace causes stress and anxiety.

Another reason we are so anxious has to do with information, how we get it, and how often we get it. Do your parents watch the news on TV or listen to it on a podcast or on the radio in the car? In our world today, we know what’s going on everywhere all the time. We know about a war in the Middle East, a fire in California, a tornado in Alabama. Knowing about all of these things can cause us to worry.

Emma just got her first smartphone for her birthday. This morning, Emma’s parents told her she was allowed to download one social media app. She created a handle for herself, @BballEmma11, and started following four of her friends. When she got in the car to go to school, Emma checked her phone. Three of her friends had followed her back! But one hadn’t. Emma began to wonder why this friend wasn’t following her yet.

How would you feel if you followed a friend on social media but your friend didn’t follow you back? Why might Emma’s friend not have followed her back right away?

God’s Promise

Sometimes as Christians, we can feel guilty for worrying. We know we are supposed to trust God, but we still feel anxious. Then, we feel guilty for feeling anxious. And that can make us more anxious! Are you feeling dizzy yet?

The Bible actually says a lot about anxiety and worry that can help us. Maybe you’ve heard of a guy named Paul in the Bible. A long time ago, right after the time Jesus lived, Paul wrote a lot of letters to churches to help them and encourage them as new Christians. These letters have been collected and are now in the New Testament of the Bible. One of these letters is called Philippians. Paul wrote it to a church in a city called Philippi.

In this letter, Paul wanted his friends to know they didn’t have to worry about their lives because God was taking care of them. He wrote to them, “Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6 NKJV).

Do you think that’s possible? To not feel anxious about anything?

Paul knew what it was like to feel anxiety. He had a pretty crazy life trying to share Jesus with the people around him and in other countries. Paul wasn’t saying we should never feel anxious again. What he was saying is that we shouldn’t feel anxious all the time. Because when we’re anxious all the time, that feeling can take over our lives. And when that happens, it’s hard to feel joy.

We can’t help feeling anxious sometimes. And let’s be clear on this: anxiety is not a sin. It’s an emotion. And our emotions aren’t wrong. We often can’t control how we feel, but we can control how we respond to our feelings. So anxiety is nothing to feel guilty about. Paul was simply telling Christians, “Don’t let anxiety take over your lives.”

Anxiety is not a sin. It’s an emotion.

Let’s read more of what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4–9:

Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.

Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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