The Real Problem with Anxiety

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30)

Jesus says that the root of anxiety is inadequate faith — “little faith” — in our Father’s future grace.

One reaction to this might be: “This is not good news! In fact, it is very discouraging to learn that what I thought was a mere struggle with an anxious disposition is rather a far deeper struggle with whether I trust God.”

My response to this discouragement is to agree, but then to disagree.

Suppose you had been having pain in your stomach and had been struggling with medicines and diets of all kinds, to no avail. And then suppose that your doctor tells you, after a routine visit, that you have cancer in your small intestine. Would that be good news? You say, emphatically not! And I agree.

But let me ask the question another way: Are you glad the doctor discovered the cancer while it is still treatable, and that indeed it can be very successfully treated? You say, yes, I am very glad that the doctor found the real problem. Again I agree.

So, the news that you have cancer is not good news. But, in another sense, it is good news, because knowing what is really wrong is good, especially when your problem can be treated successfully.

That’s what it’s like to learn that the real problem behind anxiety is “little faith” (as Jesus says) in the promises of God’s future grace. And he is able to work in wonderfully healing ways when we cry out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).