Helping Your Teen Cope With Worry
By Nathan Hiatt, Spiritual Life Director
Worry is a universal problem. Adults and students alike deal with this issue. Many people are stricken by incessant and paralyzing anxiety. It can cause an inability to make decisions and move forward in even the smallest things in life. None of us are exempt from the compulsion to worry about our daily lives as well as what the future may or may not hold.
While you deal with the worries of your own hearts, it is important to help your children learn how to process and deal with theirs. My hope in this short article is to:
||special8226|| Encourage you in your own worries and
||special8226|| Equip you to help your children deal with theirs
As adults, with more life experience, it is easy for us to look at the fears of our students and dismiss them as trivial. This is an unproductive approach, as we need to recognize the legitimacy of how they are feeling and commiserate with them. Our goal is to help them get to the root of their anxiety.
As Christians, we have a confidence in God and in His Word. We know that God is sovereign over all things and nothing takes Him by surprise. At the root of every worry is our failure to believe something that is true about God. Examine one of your own personal worries. Think about what you might be failing to believe about God. Sometimes we fail to believe that God is in control, we fail to believe that He will provide, we fail to believe that He will love us because of our sin. It is of utmost importance that we turn to God's Word when we are struggling with worry. We need to confront the lies that are the root of our anxieties with the truth that we find in Scripture.
In Matthew 6:25-34, we see Jesus speaking in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus commands us to not be anxious about our lives. He says that we shouldn't worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear.
He doesn't give us this command without encouragement, however. The reason we should not worry about these things is because God knows that we need them and He will provide them for us. Jesus commands us not to worry, because God is in control and will provide for our needs.
We also have promises in Scripture, like Philippians 4:6-7:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
In this passage, we are commanded to not be anxious, but instead lift up those worries and anxieties in prayer. We are to bring our requests to God and we are promised that God will give us peace to guard our hearts. This passage and the practice of prayer will re-orient our focus from our worries to a trust in God and His Word. Max Lucado is credited with saying, "No one can pray and worry at the same time."
One of the definitions of worry includes the idea of tormenting yourself with cares, thoughts, or troubles. That really is what worry does, it torments us. We need not allow our thoughts and our concerns to torment us, however. Scripture gives us so many assurances that we can trust God without worry. Psalm 46:10 says,
"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
The practice of being still is the complete opposite of personal torment. When you think of torment and unrest one of the last things you would consider is stillness. Yet in this Psalm, we are commanded to be still and recognize that God is in control and will be exalted throughout all the earth. Stillness is a posture of prayer.
When dealing with your own worry and the worry of your students, turn to Scripture. Do some investigating to dig and find the source of your worry. What lie are you believing that is causing you to worry? What are you failing to believe about God?
As you work on these things in your own life, allow your children to witness the process. Help them to begin to address their own fears, worries, and anxieties. Take them to Scripture to teach them the truth about God. Help them to understand that God is trustworthy and is in control.
These things can be helpful to us in addressing our everyday worries and needs. We need practical tools such as Bible reading and prayer in order to rightly identify and confront our anxieties. It is important, however, not to stop there.
Scripture affirms that God is able and does supply our daily needs, but He goes far above and beyond that. Our loving Heavenly Father not only provides everything we need on this earth, but He has given us His only Son, Jesus Christ to provide for our most ultimate need. the need for a Savior.
When we worry, we need to constantly be reminded of God's provision for us through Jesus Christ on the cross. That at our very worst, God saw us and loved us, in spite of ourselves. Romans 5:8 says, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We have this assurance that God loves us. Scripture calls it a sure and steadfast hope. It is an anchor for our souls. So when we are prone to worry - in essence to torment ourselves - we can cling to the anchor of our soul, Jesus Christ, for rest and peace.