Friday, November 13, 2009

Climbing in the Casket of Anxiety

The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 13:
Climbing in the Casket of Anxiety

Note: For previous posts in this blog mini-series, please visit: 1:, 2:, 3:, 4:, 5:, 6:, 7:, 8:, 9:, 10:, 11:, 12:

Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety. And, we need God’s prescription for victory over anxiety.

Embrace Your Spiritual Friend

Today I speak to the helper.

If you’re helping someone who is struggling with anxiety, and they ask you if you’ve ever experienced anything like what they describe, tell the truth.


If the answer is yes, briefly share your story, but don’t make the meeting about you. Share enough so the person knows you can identify with them. However, be sure to let them know that their situation and yours are not identical and that you want to understand what anxiety is like for them.


If the answer is no, don’t apologize. We have this false notion that we can’t help or understand someone unless we’ve experienced the identical issue. First, no two people experience anything in an identical way.

Also, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is very instructive.

“The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

God’s empathy is infinite. God’s comfort is infinite.

My experience is finite. My empathy is finite. My comfort is finite.

So the qualification for empathy is not that I’ve experienced the identical issue.

I am empowered to empathize with you and to offer you comfort if I am the type of person who has taken any and all my struggles to God. God equips God-dependent people to empathize with other God-dependent people.

Climb in the Casket

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul honestly shares his agony. He says he does not want the Corinthians to be ignorant of his suffering. He further candidly tells them that he has despaired of life and has felt the sentence of death.

In these verses, Paul is inviting the Corinthians to climb in the casket with him. His external suffering led to internal agony—despairing of life, feeling a sentence of death.

Our spiritual friends suffering with anxiety are inviting us to climb in the casket with them. We are to listen and experience their fear about fear, their panic about panic, their worry over worry.

Your spiritual friend should sense that you have heard their suffering—the details of their fear, anxiety, and panic.

Further, they should sense that you sense and experience and feel their fear. Your suffering is incarnational. Like Christ, you courageously and sacrificially choose to take on their suffering as your own.

The Rest of the Story

I know. It is terrifying to think about feeling someone else’s terror. Well…just think how they feel!

I know. You don’t want to stay in the casket with your spiritual friend.

That’s good. Because a casket is a good place to visit, but a bad place to call home.

So…in our coming posts, we’ll explore how to celebrate the resurrection together with your spiritual friend. We’ll explore how to experience peace even when you feel worried.

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