Gary Derbyshire

Holy Anxiety

Gary Derbyshire
November 5, 2019

There is a lot these days on social media, pop culture, and modern literature regarding anxiety. Anxiety is something many people have, but no one wants. One of the most well known passages in the scripture on anxiety comes from Matthew 6:31-33:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Nobody wants anxiety. God does not want anxiety on His people either. Yet, scripture does not write off all forms of anxiety. The previous passage is talking primarily about being anxious about one’s own life (Matthew 6:25). Philippians 4:6 goes so far to command not to be anxious about anything apart from prayer and supplication. Yet there is another kind of anxiety exhibited by many of the godliest men in the Bible and, I would argue, is not discouraged but commended. I would like to commend this form of anxiety I am calling “holy anxiety” to my church family.

Holy anxiety has a godly source and is only eased with an active prayer life and complete dependence on the Holy Spirit. Holy anxiety, contrary to the worldly anxiety the bible warns against, is a feeling of worry and distress over the spiritual state of the people around us. Many biblical characters faced tremendous times of anxiety, but often it was a holy anxiety with God as its source. In response to God’s promise to lay waste the two kingdoms of Israel, the prophet Micah, though believing God to be just for doing so, writes:

For this I will lament and wail;
I will go stripped and naked;
I will make lamentation like the jackals,
and mourning like the ostriches.
For her wound is incurable,
and it has come to Judah;
it has reached to the gate of my people,
to Jerusalem (1:8-9).

The prophet Jeremiah wrote:

But if [Israel] will not listen,
my soul will weep in secret for your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears,
because the Lord's flock has been taken captive (13:17).

The apostle Paul wrote at one point of “daily pressure” of his “anxiety for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28)."

My heart is for all of God's people this heart. May we cry when brothers abandon the faith. May we be anxious when the excitement of new believers begins to fade. May we break when sisters run after sin. May we cry out for the sake of those at the gates of hell. There is an anxiety for the things of this life that the Bible warns against. However there is a holy anxiety the Bible brings about. The cause is hell. The cure is heaven. If we really care about the spiritual state of our peers, we must have a holy anxiety that drives us to prayer and dependency on God to do what only He can do. Be sober, brothers and sisters!

Gary Derbyshire

Gary is the Senior Pastor of Apollo Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. Gary's biggest life influence is his loving parents, who originally taught him the Gospel and biblical exposition, and still live as missionaries in Asia. The next biggest influence is his loving wife, a gifted worship leader and evangelist to their children.

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Gary Derbyshire