Thursday, October 17, 2013

Alarmed by Anxiety

Sarah starts off her “Jesus Calling” post for today with the words, “Anxiety is a result of envisioning the future without Me.” The bristles went up on the back of my neck, or at least they might have if I really had them. I get anxious more regularly than I would like, and yet there is no way that I would say that I envision the future without God. So, what is the real issue here? Why do I get anxious when I know my God to be so faithful? The answer is most likely found in where we allow our eyes to focus and our mind to dwell.

We have an example of this in Peter. “And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”” (Matthew 14:25–33, NASB95)

In another instance we find Jesus and the disciples on a boat during a storm. Jesus is asleep and the disciples grow more and more fearful as they see the storm build and the boat is tossed. When at last they wake Jesus and question Him about His concern for them, He responds, “”Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”” (Matthew 8:26–27, NASB95)

The disciples knew Jesus, they had seen His miracles, and they were amazed again when He stopped the wind and calmed the sea. Yet in the midst of the trial, they looked to the size of the trial and not to the size and faithfulness of their Lord. And for all of us this is the real issue that leads to anxiety. We see something as big and imposing and it begins to capture our mind and our emotions, and we become anxious and even fearful. Yet the answer for the disciples in the storm is the same answer for us, it is to set our eyes firmly on Christ.

We read in 2 Corinthians, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3–5, NASB95)

We have a tendency to see all of our challenges on a flesh level. The storm is big, so we need protection from the storm, and we become anxious when we cannot find that protection. The bills are due, and we need funds to pay them, yet there seems to be no answer. A child is sick, and we cannot do anything to make him or her better and we might even fear for the child’s life. These are all battles we fight on the flesh or real life level. Yet we have a God who is eternal in the heavens and who is absolutely powerful and sovereign over all of these earthly concerns, and who has promised to limit these trials to that which He is also faithful to enable us to victoriously endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). Sure the trials are often huge and as we look around we cannot see anything physically bigger to deal with them. But, while the Son of God took on the form of man and understands the struggles of man, even He has returned to the right hand of the Father, and we are called to worship our God in spirit and truth.

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:22–24, NASB95)

Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:10–18, NASB95)

In Philippians “…The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5–7, NASB95)

The answer for our anxiety is consistently looking to Him who is not seen as our answer for that which is seen. So when we become anxious over something closing in around us, we are to look to Him who is our protector and defender, the One who encloses us before and behind and who has His hand on our shoulder.

“Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psalm 139:4–6, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (10/17)

Anxiety is a result of envisioning the future without Me. So the best defense against worry is staying in communication with Me. When you turn your thoughts toward Me, you can think much more positively. Remember to listen, as well as to speak, making your thoughts a dialogue with Me.

If you must consider upcoming events, follow these rules: 1) Do not linger in the future, because anxieties sprout up like mushrooms when you wander there. 2) Remember the promise of My continual Presence; include Me in any imagery that comes to mind. This mental discipline does not come easily, because you are accustomed to being god of your fantasies. However, the reality of My Presence with you, now and forevermore, outshines any fantasy you could ever imagine.

“And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? “If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?” (Luke 12:22–26, NASB95)

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21, NASB95)

No comments: