Posted by: rcottrill | July 1, 2013

All Your Anxiety

Words: Edward Henry Joy (b. Nov. 16, 1871; d. Feb. 16, 1949)
Music: Edward Henry Joy

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This beautiful little hymn was written around 1920. A Salvation Army officer, Edward Joy was meditating on First Peter 5:7 one Saturday evening, and wrote the song. (The verse invites us to be “casting all [our] care upon Him, for He cares for [us].”) Later the same evening Joy used the song at a Thornton Heath Corps meeting (in the city of London, England). You can learn more about Colonel Joy and his hymn in the Wordwise Hymns link.

The first stanza of the hymn identifies four elements of the struggles of soul we each have at various times, and to one degree or another.

CH-1) Is there a heart o’erbound by sorrow?
Is there a life weighed down by care?
Come to the cross, each burden bearing;
All your anxiety—leave it there.

All your anxiety, all your care,
Bring to the mercy seat, leave it there,
Never a burden He cannot bear,
Never a friend like Jesus!

1) Sorrows
Some form of the word is used over a hundred times in the Bible. In this life we have times of grief and mourning, often over a separation or loss of some kind (Phil. 2:27). There are other reasons for sorrow too.

We may grieve that friends or loved ones are unsaved (Rom. 9:2; 10:1-2). There are also the many griefs engendered by sin (I Tim. 6:10), but there’s also a godly sorrow that leads to repentance from sin (II Cor. 7:10). In heaven, the children of God will no longer sorrow (Rev. 21:4). And, even now, we do not “sorrow as others who have no hope” (I Thess. 4:13). But that does not mean we are immune to it, and the Lord can give relief.

2) Cares
This word identifies the problem of being overwhelmed by those things that concern us, inundated with too many jobs or too many problems, to the point of distraction (i.e. that it’s difficult to concentrate on what we need to do).

The Lord Jesus used the analogy of seeds and soil to describe this condition. When the seed of His Word is sown, the lives of some people are so infested with thorns (weeds) that the Word is choked out and does not bear fruit as it should. The thorns represent “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Matt. 13:22), as well as captivation by the “pleasures of life” (Lk. 8:14). When Paul speaks of his daily “deep concern for all the churches” (II Cor. 11:28), he uses the same Greek word. Again, relief is available in the Lord (I Pet. 5:7).

3) Burdens
A burden is a load, a heavy and wearying weight. The Apostle Paul knew about burdens. Though he gives no details, Paul speaks of “our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (II Cor. 1:8). Or as Philips paraphrases, “At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end” (The New Testament in Modern English).

Such things make us long for our heavenly home (II Cor. 5:4). For himself, the apostle tried not to be a burden to others, when he came among them to preach the gospel (I Thess. 2:9). For this reason, he sometimes worked at the tent making trade to support himself (Acts 18:3).

The Lord Jesus criticized the Pharisees for laying an unbearable burden on the Jewish people, with their traditions and minuscule man-made religious rules (Matt. 23:4; Lk. 11:46). In contrast, a relationship with the Lord brings “rest for [our] souls,” and we will find “[His] yoke is easy and [His] burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). What the Lord calls upon us to do is “not burdensome” (I Jn. 5:3). And we can, in fact, serve the Lord by helping others with their burdens (Gal. 6:2).

4) Anxieties
To be anxious is to be troubled and worried. It also has an element of fear in it. Stressfulness is a close relative. It’s possible the individual is anxious about specific things. But there is also a kind of free-floating anxiety that attaches itself, leech-like, to whatever is happening. Doctors have long known that this kind of condition, when intense and persistent, can seriously affect our physical health. “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression [causes him to stoop under its weight], but a good word [of encouragement] makes it glad” (Prov. 12:25).

The answer the Bible gives to this problem comes close to the one Colonel Joy provides in his hymn. It is that we bring our anxieties to the Lord in prayer. For this, the hymn writer uses the imagery of coming to the cross (CH-1), and coming to the mercy seat (refrain). For a discussion of the latter, see the secondary link in the other article in Wordwise Hymns.

God’s Word urges us to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). Further, as we set right priorities in life, the Lord will lift our burden of anxious care (Lk. 12:29, 31).

CH-2) No other friend so swift to help you,
No other friend so quick to hear,
No other place to leave your burden,
No other one to hear your prayer.

Questions:
1) What is the main reason so many Christians seem to suffer in these four ways?

2) How would you counsel a believer who struggled in one of these areas?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


Responses

  1. A very timely post today, given the catalogue of troubles I currently face!
    Thank you for the encouragement.

    • Thanks. It’s a meaningful hymn to me too, with things going on in my life these days.


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