Worry, anxiety, and fear are the same thing. They’re the same emotion, just experienced on different levels, like stair steps.
Fear is a negative emotion caused by a real or perceived threat to our well-being. Anxiety means being uneasy and nervous about something we can’t control—an event, person, or problem. Worry is to mentally dwell on difficulty or trouble. This chronic concern is the lowest level of the emotional staircase.
The first step is worry. Worry turns to anxiety. Anxiety becomes fear.
Scripture commands us not to do any of those things. Don’t worry. Don’t be anxious. Do not fear. God would never command us to do something if we didn’t have the ability not to do it.
As a kid, I was always worried. My life was filled with fear and anxiety. You wouldn’t have known it, because I carried myself with confidence. But deep down, I had emotional problems.
Those problems turned into fear when I entered the ministry: Fear of men, fear of failure, fear of rejection, anxiety about everything. Even though my church was thriving, my life was filled with fear.
The root of all fear, anxiety, and worry is an orphan spirit. God was my father, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know He was taking care of me. I didn’t understand how much He loved me—and how much He loves being our Father. Like an orphan, I had no idea who my Father was.
Today, I’m both a father and a grandfather. My grandkids call me Pappy, and I love being their Pappy. They are never a bother to me. One of the greatest joys of my life is when they ask me to do something.
However, compared to God’s love, my love for my grandchildren looks almost evil.
God wants our lives to be free from worry, anxiety, and fear because these emotions distract us from God. They rob us of our families and joy. And yet we are in complete control of them. Worry and anxiety exist only because we allow them to.
How do we overcome them? First, we have to consider these thoughts to be agents of the enemy. They have been planted in our lives by the devil. Every morning, when you wake up, treat worry, anxiety, and fear like your enemies.
Second, turn every anxious and worrisome thought into a prayer until you find victory. Tell God, “This is what’s bothering me today.” Transform your worry list into a prayer list. Phil. 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Third, confess that God is your loving Father and He cares for you. Let go of your orphan spirit. Orphans are on their own and have to take care of their own problems. But we are not orphans! Start rejoicing that you have the best Father in the universe.
Well-fathered children are fearless children. That’s why God tells us not to fear, not to be anxious, and not to worry. He is the answer to every problem, and like a loving, gracious Father, He has promised to take care of us.