Monday, May 24, 2010

Some Thoughts About Anxiety

Since Owen was born 10 days ago, I have been blessed to be able to spend a considerable amount of time with our second son. I am so grateful for God’s gift to us of this little life. I am also inclined to be very anxious about Owen’s health. Every little cough sends me into a mini-panic. While Owen is sleeping, I periodically check Owen to make sure he is still breathing.

Based upon our last few life experiences with Micah, Heather and I have “earthly” reason to be anxious with Owen and his health. We know now, from personal experience, that any one of us could lose our earthly lives—even at a moment’s notice. And this thought has created a fair amount of anxiety for me. My “natural” inclination is to do everything humanly possible (and even things that are not humanly possible) to guard Owen’s health very closely.

But living in Christ means to cast this anxiety on Christ. Even in circumstances such as ours, when we have natural or “earthly” reasons to be anxious, we are called to unload this anxiety by giving it to God. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 to, “Cast all your cares upon him, for He cares for you.” Notice that Peter did not say, “Cast your cares for salvation on Jesus, but you better look out for the health of your children, or for traffic accidents, ulcers or bad health.” Peter says to cast ALL of our burdens upon Christ.

In Matthew 10, Jesus encourages his disciples to preach the gospel even in the face of strong spiritual opposition because of the fact that God is sovereign even over this spiritual opposition. Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31. If God controls the life of relatively meaningless sparrows, how much more will God be involved in every aspect of our lives, including the opposition we face. No amount of opposition faced by the disciples in their ministries would catch the Father by surprise. Similarly, nothing in our lives will catch God by surprise.

Only because Jesus is sovereign over all of life can we throw, heave, unload all our burdens onto God. If we have a “small” view of God or the reach of his hands, then we can't go to him with our anxieties, because (at least in our mind) there would be aspects to our lives where God is indeed powerless. But because God is powerful over all of life, we can go to Jesus with our greatest fears and anxieties. Nancy Guthrie says, “We need our confidence in God’s goodness and justice to loom so large that we, too, can entrust ourselves to our Father without fear and without resentment.” Nancy Guthrie, Hearing Jesus Speak into your Sorrow, 18.

Ultimately, it is a form of pride for me to live in anxiety over Owen’s life. Anxiety assumes that I am in control--an assumption that should have been forever destroyed after I held my oldest son in my arms as he died. In contrast to anxiety, submission to God recognizes God's power and control over my life. I pray for a Christ-like submission to God's loving plan for Owen, for Heather and for me.


  1. Congratulations and I'm so sorry for what you walked through with your first child. I was actually checking to see how searching for my blog worked and found yours. I searched Jesus and grief. My husband died about 2 months after your first son was born. At the time, my children were 7 months and just turned two. I am thankful for your example to the body of Christ to lean into the Lord instead of away from him. I too have struggled some with losing a child, it's the only thing I can think of that would be worse than losing my husband. I continually place it in the Lord's hands though and ask for their life to be used by Him for His kingdom and that whether by life or by death all of our lives would bring glory to Him (Col 1:9). I pray that your new gift brings you joy and hope and that the peace of God would rest in your hearts.

  2. The anxiety can be great at moments. Looking back sometimes it doesn't even make sense that I was so crazy upset or fearful in a moment with my second child, Claire. God can do an amazing healing work though. It is wonderful to know & believe as you said that God is in control. We need to be good parents and provide a safe environment but we also want our family to have joy and have fun. You just have to live each moment with your own comfort level. Do things to help ease your comfort level if you can (ie. video monitor). For me the anxiety has gently eased up over Claire's first year. She was eating sand today in the sandbox when I picked her up from daycare. What can I do about that? I just had to laugh and scoop her up. We love you guys (and Micah and Owen)! We'll have to get in touch with you soon. Praying for you...