I’m a couple of days late and a few dollars short! I think that’s how that saying goes! As I have been preparing for my wife’s surgery coming up this weekend, anxiety has decided to rear its ugly head. I know that my wife will be fine. She knows that she will be fine. But it’s the thoughts that run through my mind over and over again. It’s like a CD that is on repeat. It’s like that moving What About Bob? You know the types of thoughts that we have when we have anxiety? For instance, try some of these on for size:
“I doubt that I’ll die on this airplane, but I certainly hope it’s not the pilot’s time to go!”
“I’m worried about ‘so-and-so’ because I haven’t seen them in a long time. I hope something hasn’t happened to them!”
“I know that God is in control, but…(we can fill in this blank with all sorts of things!).”
There’s just so many variables in this life–so many possibilities–that it is unfathomable to us to think that everything is going to be alright when there are troubled seas ahead.
Today, after having a special lunch with a counseling professor from my alma mater, I was telling him how I deal with anxiety and how it’s really affecting me right now. He said to me, “Do you know what anxiety is? Anxiety is based in the past and it is fear of what’s going to happen in the future.” There are so many things that all of us have been through in our lives that affect us. It is something that happens when we face traumatic experiences, especially as young children. Then our mode of operation is set in stone until we ask the Stone Crusher–that is, Jesus Christ–to crush that stone of anxiety that we have.
Let me see if I can illustrate this a little bit better. If you were traumatized when you were younger by someone who abused you, the fear that is based in your past is now your anxiety for what might happen in the future. You may fear being abused again. Perhaps you’ve been involved in other abusive relationships and you just don’t know how to break the cycle so this anxiety with which you deal is something that seems like it can’t be broken. Various degrees of anxiety, ranging from concern to fear and dread, are natural to a degree, but they are also unnatural to a degree.
Anxiety is natural when a parent exhibits anxiety for his child. First Samuel 9:5 says, When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, and let us return, or else my father will cease to be concerned about the donkeys and will become anxious for us.”
A natural anxiety is when we have strong feelings of concern for the well-being of someone we love. Philippians 2:19-20 says, But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.
Natural anxiety might occur when we experience something that we don’t quite understand. Daniel 7:15 says, As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.
War causes natural anxiety as well. First Chronicles 17:9 says, I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and not be moved again; and the wicked will not waste them anymore as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I tell you that the LORD will build a house for you.
Jesus Christ our Lord cautions us concerning anxiety that is unnatural. For instance, the “cares of this world” may hinder the life of our faith and our participation in the kingdom of God. Mark 4:18, 19 says, And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfullness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Again, in Luke 8:14, Jesus said, The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
So what’s the cure for anxiety? So glad you asked! This is what I’m learning from Matthew 6:25-34. Read slowly what Jesus Christ said to us about anxiety:
This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worryabout clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow ill worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (HCSB)
Three times! Three times Jesus tells us not to worry. If He takes care of the sparrows and the lilies of the field, how much more will He take care of us? Because we know that He tells us the truth all of the time the cure for anxiety is to trust Him at His word! We have to remind ourselves of what He says because it is the truth that sets us free (John 8:32)!
Anxiety has reared its ugly head this week. So what? What does anxiety do for me? For you? Absolutely nothing! It doesn’t add one day to any of us nor does it add any heighth to us. Therefore, in the midst of my uncertainty, I will trust the One–the Stone Crusher of anxiety–who is certain in what He has said and will not worry about what tomorrow holds. My past doesn’t hold my future–Jesus Christ holds my future!