When I was an elementary school kid, I worried. I remember my mom telling me, “You’re going to get an ulcer by the time you’re 15!” Once I became a Christian at age 19 and began reading passages like Matthew 6:25–34, I realized that my worry was a sin.
Since my conversion 20 years ago, worry and anxiety have skyrocketed for many, particularly in light of technological advances. We are constantly aware—via smartphones and other devices—of how horrible the world can be. Communication woes, identity theft, artificial social connections, and instantaneous bad news from around the globe are part of our daily intake.
As convenience and access to information increases, so does anxiety. Convenience and anxiety are two sides of the same coin and increase in tandem. While life might seem easier with every software update, it also becomes more terrifying for many because of the information we’re constantly receiving.
The great irony is we’re afraid to be without our technology, but our technology makes us afraid. The temptation to live with constant low-level panic is significant.
It’s possible, however, to engage our tech-drenched society while clinging to a biblical worldview. Here are three common problems—and gospel solutions—to address our technology-driven angst.
1. Technology-induced anxiety may signal a deeper problem.
It’s natural to feel concerned by things in our newsfeed like terrorism, election results, or statistics regarding pervasive evil. But often the root of our anxiety lies in a mistrust of God and his character.
In passages such as Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 103:19, and Colossians 1:17, we’re reminded our King is not surprised by world events. He is the beginning and the end, so when we rest in his sovereign goodness over all things, anxiety begins to evaporate like mist in the air.
2. We may be tempted to believe God is holding out on us.
As we see the constant glamor of others’ lives on Facebook or Pinterest, it can spawn anxiety and jealousy. As we scroll through one happy post after another, we may start to assume God blesses others while overlooking us. We can subtly develop an “if only” mindset—if only I had that, I would be happy—which is toxic since it fixates our heart on the gifts, not the Giver.
We are not ultimately in pursuit of God’s blessings. Instead, we are after reconciliation with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. That reconciliation leads to infinite benefits, chief among which is the enjoyment of God himself. He is our peace. He is our wealth. Our deepest need is to crave him more than we do stuff. Internalizing this helps us reject the allure of keeping up with the digital Joneses whenever we surf the web.
3. Prolific technology use may leave us with a fear of missing out (FOMO).
While the acronym might induce an eye-roll from many, it is a real problem. Our smartphones are ever-pinging windows into the fun everyone else is having . . . without us. But like other forms of fear or anxiety, FOMO is brought to life by a lack of belief that God is good and that he is enough. If we look to him in all of his strength and love, our anxiety will begin to dissipate because we know he wants what’s best for us—and has secured it at infinite cost to himself. Our security and significance is anchored in his analysis of us, that he loved us enough to sacrifice his only Son that we might enjoy him in return (Rom. 8:32; 1 John 4:9).
Because such love has no equal, if our smartphones reveal that others are forgetting us, neglecting, or even rejecting us, it won’t matter. To the degree we view ourselves in light of Christ’s sacrifice, FOMO loses its grip on our hearts. When we walk with God and remain sensitive to the Spirit’s leading, there’s really no such thing as missing out. How can you miss out on something better when a sovereign and good King is proactively making straight your path (Prov. 3:6)?
When the Phone Chirps
God is calling us to be responsible and full of integrity with what he has given us (e.g., Matt. 24:14–30; Luke 16:10; 1 Cor. 4:1–2; Col. 3:23; Titus 2:7). We are to be above reproach when it comes to technology, and not allow it to govern our lives or flood us with anxiety.
Confidence in a heavenly Father separates followers of Christ from the rest of a technology-drenched culture that lives in a state of worry about nearly everything our phones chirp about. Anxiety will always tug at our hearts and encourage us to find quick solutions apart from God, but true peace comes from trusting in the source of life itself. As we rest in him, the anxiety slowly slips away.