What Keeps You Up At Night?

Many of us toss and turn at night, awakened not by our spouse snoring, but by a mind occupied by worry. We lose our peace of mind and sleep because we focus on things beyond our control and thus subject ourselves to fear.

Author Tim Keller says, "I worry because I know the way my life is supposed to be, and God is not getting it right."

Everybody worries. Some people worry a little; others are champion worriers. Some, if they find themselves with nothing to disturb them, they worry about that!

Everyone experiences some degree of worry and anxiety. It seems that the 21st century has intensified levels of anxiety. An article titled "Black Death of the 21st Century" compares stress and anxiety to the plague that hit Europe in 1348, eventually killing 25 million people. The article elevated stress and anxiety to disease levels. The author reports that stress and anxiety have "eclipsed stroke, heart attack, cancer and back problems as the number one reason for missing work."

Author Scott Stossel, in My Age of Anxiety, states, "Anxiety is one of the most frequent complaints driving patients to their doctor's office—more frequent, by some accounts, than the common cold."

People who approach life through a spiritual lens often think the remedy to anxiety and fear is to tell themselves, "I shouldn't worry so much; I don't have enough faith." That is not the truth. There is a better approach.

More faith does not result in less fear. Less anxiety comes from more love. In the New Testament, I John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear."
Some years ago, there was a study done by Dr. Harry Harlow illustrating how love casts out fear. In breeding monkeys for research, it was discovered that monkeys, even if they were protected from disease, would not thrive without comfort and love. You can find more about this study on-line by looking up "Harlow's Studies on Dependency in Monkeys."

Essentially what researchers discovered was that even when a monkey was well-cared for, if there was no mother figure providing comfort for them, they would suffer from fear and anxiety. Contact with his mother changes a monkey's entire personality. Confidence is found in love and comfort.

Similarly, we can find comfort in God's love when faced with anxiety and fear. We gain confidence in our lives not by having more faith, but by experiencing God's loving care in our lives. We don't need less fear; we need more God.