Do you struggle with anxiety? You’re far from alone. Americans are more anxious than ever – and author Max Lucado wanted to find out why. Joining Glenn on radio Tuesday to talk about his latest book, Lucado offered a three-part theory as to what is making Americans so anxious:
1) The world is moving far more quickly than it used to as technology advances
2) People have forgotten how to slow down
3) We’re constantly bombarded with negative news from every corner of the globe
“We are now the most anxious nation on the planet, and this is the most anxious generation since anxiety was ever measured,” Lucado explained the inspiration behind his new book, “Anxious for Nothing.” The title is a reference to the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to Christians in the New Testament book of Philippians to “be anxious for nothing.”
American anxiety is translating not only to a breakdown in community and relationships but also to a higher suicide rate.
“We’re losing the ability to have honest conversations with one another because we live in fear,” Lucado said.
The two fundamental questions in life are “why am I here?” and “where am I headed?” People can only live so long without being able to answer those questions until they become “bitter and jaded and cynical,” Lucado said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Max Lucado, from San Antonio, Texas. He started a small church in Miami, Florida. And now he’s in San Antonio. He’s been a pastor for 40 years. He’s — he’s authored 34 books, 43 different languages. Ninety-seven million copies of his books are in print. He’s been married 34 years. Has a granddaughter. Has three wonderful children and a — a very important message in his new book Anxious For Nothing. Which, Max, I had to have you on, because I think this is the answer to much of what the world is facing right now. We are so anxious about everything. And through, I think, misdirection.
We’re blaming it on all kinds of different things and all different people. But it’s — it’s really — this anxiety — first of all, where do you think it’s coming from? What are we experiencing?
MAX: Thanks for letting me on the program, by the way.
GLENN: Sure. Yeah.
MAX: It’s not just an assumption on your part. You know, sociologist after sociologist has told us — and I document a lot of this in the book — that we are now the most anxious nation on the planet. And this is the most anxious generation since anxiety was ever measured. Third world countries score higher on the anxiety list than the United States does. So how could this be? We have more gimmicks, more gadgets, more toys, more entertainment than ever, and yet we’re wrapped tighter than Egyptian mummies. We’re just anxious people. And so it’s not just an assumption on your part.
And I think the consequence of this — of course, it’s physical. Just about every malady can be faced back in some form to some form of stress. But I think also it has — we pay a high price emotionally. We’re losing the ability to have honest conversations with one another because we live in fear. We’re anxious. And when you’re anxious, you hunker down and you withdraw. And the result of that can be a breakdown in fellowship, community, and dialogue.
GLENN: So we also withdraw, but then we also gather in groups — this thing that’s going on with, you know, dopamine right now.
GLENN: We get constant dopamine hits if we post something nasty on Facebook and it starts to go viral. Our brain is rewarding us for that.
GLENN: With a feel-good drug. And I don’t know how that’s going to break. Because we’re looking — and, look, we’re strung out on opioids or on dopamine hits. And if you’re not doing one of those two things, the suicide rate is going through the roof. People are not built to handle this kind of stress.
MAX: The suicide rate between 1999 and today has gone up 24 percent.
MAX: Twenty-four percent. Now, if we said that about a particular disease, we’d call that an epidemic. More people than ever are orchestrating their own departure, which gives rise to the question: What is happening in our culture to cause that to occur?
GLENN: So what is it?
MAX: I think from a socialist viewpoint, the comment list includes — we’ve seen more change in the last 30 years than we’ve seen in the last 300. So the world is moving far too fast. Number two, we have not — we have forgotten how to slow down. Our great-grandparents and ancestors would go only as far as the day as the horse or the camel would go. And then when the sun set, they would slow down. We have forgotten how to do that.
GLENN: Yeah. Right.
MAX: And then also, the bombardment of negative news. Not just political news, but just negative news. If something bad happens in Nepal, I hear about it within five seconds. Whereas, our ancestors never would have heard about it. Or if they did, it would have been five weeks later. So we’re just bombarded with negative news. So those are the three things that socialists state. Can I add to that as a pastor?
MAX: I think secularism is taking its toll on us. Secularism is the belief that there’s nothing in life beyond what happens between birth and the grave, and there’s nothing beyond the world to help us.
Secularism really sucks the hope out of a culture because if there’s nothing more than what I can see and touch and feel and I don’t like what I can see and touch and feel, then I think I’ll just check out.
GLENN: So I want to play something for you that I saw this morning from Jim Carrey. He was giving an interview yesterday in New York, and it was some fancy celebrity thing. And everybody was reporting this as, look at Jim Carrey, he’s kind of slapping down Hollywood and the elites and everything else. I don’t think that’s what’s happening. I want you just to listen to what Jim Carrey said in an interview yesterday. Because he is really unhealthy, or he’s just starting to figure life out. And I can’t decide which it is.
VOICE: Say, Jim Carrey, yes?
VOICE: I’ve covered a lot of Fashion Weeks. This is the first time I’ve run into Jim Carrey.
Wait. Tell me — is it true you’re wandering the streets? You need a date in the party? What’s up?
JIM: No, no, no. I’m doing just fine. I — you know, there’s no meaning to any of this. So I wanted to find the most meaningless thing I could come to and join. And — and here I am. I mean, you got to admit, it’s completely meaningless.
VOICE: Well, they say they’re celebrating icons inside. Do you believe in icons?
JIM: Celebrating icons, boy, that is just the absolute lowest aiming, you know, possibility that we could come up with. It’s like icons. What are — do you believe in icons?
I don’t believe in personalities. I don’t believe that you exist. But there is a wonderful fragrance in the air.
VOICE: You don’t believe certain icons have the power to make change, to think differently, to be bold, to inspire others, artistry? You’re one of them.
JIM: On the good foot, ha!
Yeah. Shut her down now.
JIM: No, I don’t believe in icons. I don’t believe in personalities. I believe that peace lies beyond personality, beyond invention and disguise, beyond the red S that you wear on your chest that makes bullets bounce off. I believe that it’s deeper than that. I believe we’re a field of energy dancing for itself.
And I don’t care.
VOICE: But, Jim, you got really dressed up for the occasion. You look good. Was that an accident?
JIM: No, I didn’t get dressed up. I didn’t get dressed up.
VOICE: Who did?
JIM: There is no me.
VOICE: There’s no you. We’re not here. This is a dream?
JIM: No, there’s just things happening. And there are —
GLENN: Stop. He is — he’s a guy who has been going through trouble lately, a lot of personal trouble. And to me, this is really concerning.
I like the idea that he says all of this is meaningless. But I think he is to a point to where he means really all of this is meaningless. And there’s a fine line between that.
MAX: He seems right on the edge of despair.
MAX: And despair often is borne out of a sense of utter complete disappointment of life. You know, I have been at the top. I’ve had the very best. I’ve had all it could give me. And it’s still vain. It’s vanity.
You know, there’s a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes. And King Solomon reached that same conclusion. You know, the richest man probably who ever lived. And he said, it’s nothing, but, you know — there’s vanity. It has no meaning to me.
And so this cry for meaning, this longing to be a part of something significant is right at the core of the deepest, deepest need of a human being. Why am I here? Where am I going?
GLENN: So where are we finding that now? Now that our churches are, you know, struggling. I think in some cases for good reason. Where do we find it? How do we put this back?
MAX: I know our churches are struggling. And oftentimes because of the way churches are structured, they can be so inauthentic, that they come across to people as simply another way to earn money or to — to steal from people.
MAX: And so that — that’s created disconnection between many people and the church.
I really think though that we are beginning to sense, especially in the millennial generation, a sense of authentic faith among our young people. And it’s very, very encouraging. And it’s a faith that’s really built upon a deep, deep conviction that there is a good God who is up to something good. They don’t have all the answers. Don’t have all of the questions resolved. But there’s a deep, deep conviction, that we’re seeing, a fresh move of faith among our young people.
And I find that very encouraging.
GLENN: There are reasons to feel the chaos. There are reasons — I mean, there’s real things that are happening that people’s jobs are at stake. They — they don’t know how they’re going to make ends meet. Their kids are in trouble. Suicide rate with the youth is through the roof. There’s real reason to feel this way.
How do you disconnect from the very real things in your life? The hype of all the things that you shouldn’t worry about, and put that in order and then find a peaceful place in it? You know, how did Martin Luther King — how was he in jail and fine?
How did Dietrich Bonhoeffer thank his executioner? How do you do that?
MAX: And I asked that very question in this book, because I based this book upon the writings of the Apostle Paul. And he wrote this book in a Roman jail cell. And this book called Philippines in the Bible has come to be known as the epistle of joy, and yet there’s 1,001 reasons he should not be happy.
MAX: I mean, the emperor was making a living on killing Christians, and probably Paul was next in line. And here, the Apostle Paul is chained to a Roman guard and has every reason to think he’ll never see the light of day again. If it is, it’s just for a few moments before his head is chopped off. And yet, you read these four chapters, and there’s not one word of complaint. Not one word of complaint.
And as you dig into this book, you find in this book really a deep and abiding trust in two simple facts: that there is a good God, and this good God is up to good things.
And so I think that — and I’m not saying anything that surprises you. I mean, I’m a pastor. I know I’m supposed to say these things. But deep in my heart, I really believe that the cause of anguish and despair is a sense of meaningless.
GLENN: It is.
MAX: Why am I here? Where am I headed? Why am I here? Where am I headed? And if you cannot answer those two fundamental questions in life, I mean, how do you get up on a Monday and go to work? You can only do it so many times before you become bitter and jaded and cynical.
GLENN: I’d add to that that there’s — there’s a deep sense I think in all of us, of I want to do something of meaning.
GLENN: And we can’t find it. We can’t find that something of meaning.
We’re talking to Max Lucado. In a second, I want to talk to him about chaos, which we’ve just been talking about. But calm. C-A-L-M. Calm the chaos. In a minute.
STU: The book by Max Lucado is Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World.
At some point, I want to ask Max the question my kid asked me the other day with the hurricane bearing down. It was one of those, “Hey, why is God sending the hurricane? Is it to kill people?”
And I thought that was probably — I didn’t want to say yes to that. So I said, “Hey, look, daddy’s i Pad is charged. Here you go kid!” That was probably not the response Max will give.
GLENN: Max Lucado, a grew new book everyone should read. It’s called Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World.
STU: So this really happened the other day. My son is six. And he’s watching some of the — people talking about the hurricane. My mom lives in Georgia. Was threatened by it at one point.
And he asked, “Why does God send hurricanes? Is it to kill people?” So I surely did not answer the question correctly. But what — I mean, how do you answer something like that to a 6-year-old?
MAX: Yeah. How do you answer when a 6-year-old’s father is diagnosed with cancer or when someone’s in a car wreck like a family in our congregation was recently? And the man had his first baby on Monday, and he was killed in a car wreck on Saturday.
It’s just these — these kinds of things, you know, they leave our heads spinning.
GLENN: And it’s not even 6-year-olds that ask that. There’s 60-year-olds. There’s 96-year-olds that ask that question.
MAX: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Why do bad things happen to good people, you know? And I think that’s where the heart of the conversation is. The real heart is, is there a God? And if he is a God, what kind of God is he? You know, is there a God? Is he in control? And if he’s in control, why do bad things happen?
And I think the Bible talks about that over and over — you know, Jesus said many times, for example, in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I’ve overcome the world.
The ultimate answer for human suffering, according to the Bible is, it’s — it’s not supposed to be this way. It’s not supposed to be this way. The world was not created to have hurricanes and tornadoes. Our bodies were not intended to have to deal with cancer cells and heart conditions. My dad died of ALS, you know. And the body — it’s not supposed to be this way.
But there’s a good day coming. There’s a better day coming. Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. I promise I’m going to take what is difficult, tragic, and I’m going to redeem it into something good. And this is what led one Bible writer to say that the promise of the future glory is not worth comparing with the difficulties we have today. In other words, the small potato struggles we have are going to be long forgotten in the next life, in the new life.
I know that requires faith. I know that that’s hard for some people to believe.
I’ve tried not believing it. And I think the idea of not having faith is far more difficult to me than having faith. And so ultimately, the answer is, it’s not going to be this way forever.
STU: And I’m going to lay the blame at the feet of Eve. Adam and Eve. Because what you said —
GLENN: I don’t —
MAX: Don’t give him my email address.
GLENN: Max, I have a great story to share with the audience of — of, it’s how you look at your situation, that we’re going to share here in a minute.
And I’ve run out of time, but I want to come back for one more segment with you. Because I want you to explain C-A-L-M. In a world of chaos, the answer is calm. And we get to that, next.
GLENN: Max Lucado has a new book out called Anxious for Nothing. And as each passing day goes by, I kind of feel like that. I kind of feel like, you know, there are real reasons to be anxious. There’s real pressure on right now. The world is changing. But really, how much of that really matters? You know, you either have the faith that it’s going to be fine and we’re going to make it, or you don’t.
And if you don’t have the faith, then, you know, it’s trouble. You say the answer is calm.
MAX: Yeah. I — I would even go so far as to say, I think we each have a moral obligation to be peaceful people. You know, we have a moral — I owe it to you and to you to be as peaceful as I can be. And rather than stir up anxiety everywhere I go, if I can learn to bring peace, like you said earlier, Glenn — one person is changed, and that person changes a family. That person — a family changes a community and then a state and then a nation and then the world.
I have a moral obligation to do all I can do to be a peaceful person. Because in the long-term, if enough of us do that, we create a peaceful place. And so that’s why I’ve been so fascinated with this whole theme of anxiety. We’re an anxious nation. An anxious nation makes bad decisions. An anxious nation is on edge. An anxious people cannot get along with each other.
Peaceful people, on the other hand have dialogue, have community. Talk through their differences and learn to disagree agreeably. These are characteristics of a peaceful people. So all of that to say, how do you become that? The book in the Bible called Philippines is a book about peace.
And in this book, the apostle says, here’s four things you can do: Number one, you celebrate God, the way he says it is. Rejoice in the Lord. Always, again, I say rejoice. He must have been a preacher because he says everything twice. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice.
So the next time you feel anxious, just take a minute and rejoice in God. Rejoice in the sunshine. Rejoice in his goodness. Rejoice in what you’ve got.
And then the apostle says, be anxious for nother. There’s the phrase. But in everything by prayer and petition, let your requests be made known to God.
So instead of letting the anxiety settle within you, immediately lift the cause or source of that anxiety to God. Make a prayer out of it. Then the apostle says, do this without Thanksgiving. That is to say, leave it God. Then lastly he says, now meditate on good things.
And he gives us a list of like nine different virtues upon which to meditate. In other words, set your mind on better things.
It’s a real practical thing, I think, Glenn, that the apostle who had every reason to be stressed out found peace. And he says, here’s how I do it.
GLENN: Max, it is good to talk to you. And you have been an influence on my life. And many, many, many people that I know. And it is —
MAX: Oh, thank you.
GLENN: And it is great to have you here.
MAX: And it’s mutual. It’s mutual. Every conversation is better than the other.
GLENN: Thank you. God bless you.