Nurturing Faith Amidst Anxiety: A Strategic Path to Hope and Resilience

Uncategorized May 02, 2024

While doing some research recently, I did a quick internet search on fear and anxiety in the millennial generation. I expected that there would be numerous articles full of statistics and stories about reasons why the modern generation is defined as the “anxious generation.” I was not disappointed. Article after article examined the problem from one perspective or the other. 

A psychological perspective suggested five specific issues that weigh heavily on the minds of millennials. These include the fear of missing milestones, the dread of dying alone, concerns about job stability and financial security, anxiety over politics and the environment, and worries about general physical health. Millennials feel they have no control over the future and struggle to find the tools necessary to navigate that sense of lack of control.

A health and beauty website suggested that the impact of technology on millennial anxiety cannot be understated. Maria Tillman, a licensed therapist, believes that the constant bombardment of information and opinions on the internet contributes to a sense of overwhelm among young people. Caroline Leaf, Ph.D., echoes this sentiment as she notes that millennials may struggle to see their way through to the future amidst the noise and distractions of the digital age. In short, millennials are overwhelmed with information and need help distinguishing clear life direction.

This lack of having the tools necessary to navigate uncertainties bubbled to the surface with greater clarity during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Kalev Rudolph, a cultural critic, observes, millennials have witnessed a significant shift in how humans understand the distribution of resources and the planet's limitations. The resulting transformation of the world as we know it has left many millennials grappling with profound existential questions and an overwhelming sense of dread. In other words, their world shifted underneath their feet, and they felt they could do nothing to find stability.

One theory proffered that the issue might be that there are incredible character flaws in the millennial and Gen Z group: they are spoiled by Generation X (their parents) and are used to having their way. This theory was, of course, disputed by other “experts” who stated that the prevalence of anxiety among millennials is not solely attributed to personal failings or character flaws. Still, instead, it is due to the culmination of environmental shifts, economic instability, and personal struggles that converge to create a perfect storm of anxiety and despair.

I soon discovered what anyone discovers when they are doing topical searches on the Internet: everybody has an opinion, and one seems as good as the other. Each website cites their experts and statistics to support their opinion. They all grasped ideas to explain the issue without offering concrete solutions. And I have to tell you that my heart broke. As a pastor and leader, not to mention a father and grandfather, I am moved with compassion for a generation that is full of fear and anxiety. The number of website articles in my short search highlighted that millennials are searching for an answer to their fear. I wondered how our churches and communities could guide a generation in this condition.

The good news is there is an answer. The solution for this generation’s anxiety and fear is the tried and proven actions of turning to God, believing the Word, and trusting Him in the face of uncertainty. But, of course, you would expect me to say that, right? After all, I am a pastor. As a “professional” Christian (please recognize the humorous sarcasm in that title), I'm supposed to say that God is the answer.

But I propose more than pastoral filler or oversimplified answers to a complex problem. The answer that I am proposing is an actual strategy—a step-by-step process for standing fearless in the face of uncertainty. And I do not offer this path only as a pastor. I offer this strategy as a father, a grandfather, and a Christian who is fully convinced that this is what the modern generation is searching for.

Turn to God

The websites listed a wide range of causes of anxiety in this generation. From financial instability to sudden uncontrollable life changes to environmental concerns, the theories that attempted to pinpoint the problem are diverse and far-reaching. There needed to be more consensus on what the actual problem was.

But not one single website that popped up suggested that this generation is in great fear and anxiety because it has discounted God. Even if a person chooses to dismiss this as an antiquated theory from a dusty old book, the fact is that the Bible describes the results of discounting God from everyday life. And the description in the Bible corresponds to the reality that all the website pundits describe.

Psalm 14:1 speaks of one who says, "There is no God." Such a person is called a "fool," or, more accurately to the author's original intended meaning, a “scoundrel.” And when the scoundrel says, "There is no God," it does not refer to one who is merely giving consent to atheism. Instead, the phrase represents a deep conviction that God can be discounted from everyday life. 

The passage describes several consequences of claiming that there is no God. One is fear: "terror will grip them" (Psalm 14:5). Psalm 53:5 even says, "terror will grip them like they have never known before.”

All of the websites seem to want to quote an “expert" to attempt to describe the cause of anxiety in this generation. Rather than quoting an expert, my source of information is the Bible. While some might not believe that the Bible qualifies as an “expert,” the fact that this description accurately corresponds to the reality of this generation should certainly lend enough credibility to the scriptures to set this claim on firm footing. When a generation discounts God from everyday life, that generation will be gripped by fear.

The websites gave suggested solutions for anxiety that ranged from radically accepting things that one cannot control to deep breathing techniques, to lowering sugar intake, and even suggesting that Gen Zs should seek out life coaches - which apparently millennials seek out on TikTok. - the real solution provided by the Bible is to turn to God.

Believe the Word

That leads me to the second point of this strategy: Believe that what the Bible says is true. Because I am suggesting that turning to God is the solution for this generation's struggle with anxiety and fear, I must explain where to go to turn to God. How does one turn to God? I can point you to churches, pastors, and other Christian resources that might be helpful. But the one place that will tell you the most about God, who he is, and what he is like, is the Holy Bible.

Hebrews 11:6 reads: "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” 

This verse demonstrates a principle that is the exact opposite of the one described in Psalm 14 and Psalm 53. What happens when a person believes that God exists? Well, God rewards the people who sincerely seek him. An action is implied in this verse. Between the statement that one “must believe God exists” and the phrase “he rewards those who sincerely seek him" is the implication that seeking God has taken place. The author of Hebrews seems to suggest that when one becomes truly convinced that God exists, the most natural thing in the world would be for that person to seek after God. And when one sincerely seeks for God, God rewards that person.

What kind of reward does one get who seeks the Lord sincerely? They get hope and peace amid great uncertainty. Hebrews 11 has been called "the hall of faith." In this chapter, the author canvases great men and women of faith from Israel's history, showing how their faith in God gave them stability in turbulent times. The promise of Hebrews 11:6 was not written in the middle of a passage that described life as all sunshine and roses. Believing in God and believing that he rewards those who seek him, those words were written in the middle of a list describing people who experienced great trials and victory.

In fact, at the end of the chapter, the author does not try to gloss over the fact that many of those people he held up as examples faced incredible uncertainty. These people had good reasons to be anxious and afraid. But he makes it clear that the reward for seeking God was the ability to endure hardships and uncertainties without being overcome by fear and anxiety.

Take a moment to listen to how Hebrews wraps up this list of examples of heroes of faith:

Hebrews 11:32–38 (NLT): 

32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. 

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. 

Do you want to know why I advocate that you should believe the Word? Because the Bible tells you the entire truth. It does not try to hide the harsh reality behind placebos of empty promises. The Bible tells both the good and the bad of life. People of faith have accomplished tremendous victories, like overthrowing kingdoms and shutting the mouths of lions. But they have also endured torture, whips, chains, and even death. And the Bible does not suggest that turning to God will mean you will never face problems. Instead, it indicates that when you do, God's presence and peace will stabilize your heart so that you will not be moved by life's problems.

If you feel the Hebrews 11:32–38 quote is less than encouraging, you should keep reading. The author of Hebrews declares, “We are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable. Let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe” (Hebrews 12:28, NLT). You see, believers in God are the ones who are unshakeable. The entire Kingdom of God is unshakeable.

Trust in God

There is one more principle in the strategy: trust in God. It is not enough to turn to God and acknowledge that He exists. The path to true freedom from anxiety is to put all of your trust in God’s love and care for you. Whether you are facing questions about the future, finances, or, yes, even the environment, putting your trust in God will drive fear and anxiety far from you. I think the Word says it better than I can.

Psalm 27:1–3 (NLT): 

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? 2 When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. 3 Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. 

And this one especially is for those who fear some climate catastrophe looms ahead:

Psalm 46:1–3 (NLT): 

1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. 3 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

Maybe I represent just another website. But I actually have a solution for the anxious generation. Turn to God. Believe the Word. And trust in God completely. It works.


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