“Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or what shall we wear? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” -Matthew 6:31
The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that over 40 million adults have some type of anxiety disorder. This is an alarming statistic and of grave concern for the spiritual vitality of this generation and future generations to come. What has changed so much over the last few decades? In my opinion, social media and technology.
As an older millennial born in 1985, I grew up with television, video games, and the early growth of the internet. However, much of my childhood resembled that of previous generations–playing hide and seek, capture the flag, and baseball outside with family and friends. Our socialization existed in the real world, not some meta universe like the internet.
Nowadays, it seems that most of our communication happens through the internet. For instance, instead of people going over to a friend’s house to play a game of table tennis, they will stay at home and play virtual table tennis. In other words, the meta-universe has replaced the real universe.
I believe this universe replacement has caused psychological issues for every generation, both young and old. The National Institute of Health has even stated:
“Excessive internet use may create a heightened level of psychological arousal, resulting in little sleep, failure to eat for long periods, and limited physical activity, possibly leading to the user experiencing physical and mental health problems such as depression, Obsessive compulsive disorder, low family relationships, and anxiety.” -NIH, Journal of Research in Medical Sciences
So then, what is the remedy? Heeding to what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 6:31. He told us not to be anxious about what to eat, drink, or wear. In underdeveloped countries, this is still relevant. However, in modern culture, most people have the basic resources to live. If this is true, then why do many people struggle with anxiety?
I think the feeling of nervousness and unease comes from caring too much about what people think. In the social media realm, people are more concerned about how many likes they get rather than actually building a relationship with friends. Other anxious thoughts come from worrying about losing a job, getting bullied at school, coveting what others have, or missing out on the latest fad.
Remember, Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow, for today has enough worry of it’s own. Jesus also said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” In other words, an endless pursuit of material possessions–that only leads to covetousness and anxiety, is itself futile. If it’s futile, then there is no reason to worry or be anxious about it in the first place.
If Jesus can take care of the sparrows, surely he can take care of humans created in His image and likeness, right? I think the greatest remedy to reducing anxiety in our lives is to know this simple truth from Scripture: “God is love.”
And because God is love, He desires for our companionship and success. Since this is true, whom shall we fear? For God is our rock, redeemer, and deliverer. There is no being in the universe more powerful than Him. He will keep us safe from anything that can steal our joy.
Therefore, trust in the Lord. Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, give glory and honor to the Father. Pray, trust, go to church, and commune with the infinite God of this universe. Jesus will provide for you the strength and wisdom to overcome your anxious thoughts. Cast your cares and burdens on Him; for He cares for you. Blessings!
Daily Devotional by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)