When Did Anxiety Start?
by Gini Crawford, MSW
Genesis the beginning of anxiety
We need to understand when anxiety started, so we can clearly recognize where it comes from, and why it hits us over and over again.
Anxiety started with Adam and Eve, and the first sin. We know this from Genesis 3:10. This verse tells us what Adam and Eve experienced after they had disobeyed God and brought sin into the world. Let's put Genesis 3:10 in context by reading Genesis 3:1-10:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." Genesis 3:1-10 NIV®
The Hebrew word for afraid in Genesis 3:10 is yare. This is the key to understanding where anxiety came from. In the Complete Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament the word afraid (yare) has two main meanings: (1) the emotion and intellectual anticipation of harm, what one feels when things may go wrong and (2) a very positive feeling of awe or reverence for God. I think it is evident from the context – afraid in Genesis 3:10 is the first type. Their disobedience against God, bought anxious feelings to them and unfortunately to all of us (Romans 5:19).
Have you ever thought how horrible it must have been for Adam and Eve, to have only felt positive feelings such as peace, joy, contentment and then instantaneously to feel anxious fear and so on? Talk about a nightmare experience! I know all about anxiety and it still throws me off. I think we can all sympathize with Adam and Eve - because anxiety is hard to live with.
Looking at Genesis 1 and 2 – it's evident we were created for a world that had no anxiety promoting source in it. In other words, God created us to live in a world where only life, good, pleasure, abundance, peace, well-being and harmony was; but their sin brought fear, death, evil, insecurity, pain, scarcity, toil, conflict and alienation into the world as well. We weren't created for the harsh feelings sin can bring to us; so when anxiety hits, it's a strain on us. We want to try to escape its effects. I don't think anyone likes to be anxious!
God won't leave us in anxiety
God's Word tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. Read Genesis 1 and 2 if you have time. God had created everything very good for Adam and Eve (and us too). In Genesis 2:16-17, God gave Adam and Eve just one command that they needed to obey, or lose eternal life. They were not to eat fruit from one tree in the garden that was full of other abundant fruit trees. As you know, they chose to eat from the tree that God had told them not to, so anxiety hit immediately in the form of fears and confusion.
Adam and Eve had sinned, but God was still in the garden with them. In Genesis 3:15, God gives the first hope of salvation, by describing a spiritual battle that He would triumph over, to save His people. Jesus Christ died for Adam and Eve, you and me, so He wouldn't have to abandon us because of our sin (Romans 5:16-17, 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-9).
God will never leave or abandon you, even though your sin brought on anxiety. He didn't abandon Adam and Eve. Read Psalm 139:23-24; Isaiah 49:15-16; 54:7-10. Since God will never give up on you, does it give you confidence and determination to call on God to help you through each anxious and worrisome situation? (Matthew 6:25-34). God is your loving Father, Who won't give up on you!
Meditate on Isaiah 49:15-16 for a few minutes.