Bob Tamasy: Antidote For Fear, Anxiety And Worry

Monday, August 28, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
In case you haven’t noticed, there seem to be lots of things going on these days to spike our anxiety levels. To paraphrase poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How do I fear thee? Let me count the ways.” 

Among our top choices are, in no particular order of importance or seriousness: North Korea; ISIS; terrorism in general; the Russians; Donald Trump; liberals (or conservatives, depending on one’s political bent); volatile weather, climate change or global warming (or whatever the experts are calling it this week); volcanoes; sinkholes; forest fires; ideological extremists of all sorts; gun people (or anti-gun people, again depending on personal views); diseases; pit bulls (my apologies to pit bull lovers); the economy; killer bees; maybe even your next-door neighbor.


And if none of those things make us anxious or fearful, we can trust the media to change that. In fact, MSNBC’s Brian Williams recently stated, “(it is) our job actually to scare people to death” over North Korea. He might have added the national media believe it’s their job to scare people to death over just about everything. 

Hearing the iconic declaration by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. President, from his inaugural address in 1933, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” we’re tempted to respond, “Yeah, but you haven’t read today’s newspaper or listened to the evening news!”

My point isn’t to discuss any of these unsettling issues. We live in an often frightening, unpredictable world. When we can’t control things, they scare us. If we’re not fearful, anxious or worried about something, just wait a little while. We’ll think of something. But living in a state of high-alert stress is emotionally taxing, physically debilitating – and not much fun.

So, what are we to do? We can easily decide not to fear the abominable snowman (at least so far), zombies, the boogeyman, and the big bad wolf. But most of the things listed above are legitimate concerns. How can we not feel fearful?

Jesus gave the answer in His “sermon on the mount.” After covering a variety of topics, He segued to the subjects of worry, fear and anxiety. The Lord started by announcing, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).

Many of us read this and conclude it sounds good in theory, but in practice, not so much. Fear is natural, we reason. And what’s more, feeling afraid seems like we’re doing something even if there’s nothing we can do. The thing is, when Jesus said this, He was talking all-inclusively, no exceptions.

But again, how can we do this? Surrounded by fearsome circumstances, how can we help feeling afraid and anxious? The Lord closed this portion of His message with the answer: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34).

Some read this and say, “Aha! See? Jesus admitted each day has its own trouble!” That’s correct, but repeatedly the Scriptures tell us trusting in God – no matter what happens to us or around us – is the antidote to fear, anxiety and worry.

Isaiah 26:3 offers this assurance: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in (God).” A bit later we find these words in the same prophetic book: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

An oft-quoted passage promises, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Another verse offers similar comfort: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Let’s face it: If we’re wanting to find something in this world to worry about and fear, we don’t have to look far. But as a friend of mine used to say, “You can’t stop birds from flying over your head – but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” If we place our trust in the eternal, transcendent God rather than the ominous, gloom-and-doom proclamations we get from multi-faceted, 24/7 news and information media, we can shoo away needless fear, anxiety and worry, ordering them to build their nests somewhere else.

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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.

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