Monday, February 28, 2011

Anxiety Antidote

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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:06-07, NKJV).

I dare you not to be anxious about something; double-dog dare you. Anxiety is one of the best schemes of the enemy, ever. It undermines faith, robs you of peace, steals your joy in the Lord, and makes for an anemic witness. And it is so very effective. This long drawn out emotion, whatever its origins, has the capacity to bypass all reason and rational thought, and withstand most attempts at sane mitigation. Unlike raw fear or terror, which cannot be sustained for nearly the same duration, anxiety can plague a soul for years, or decades, or an entire lifetime. Anxiety can kill, and not very cleanly.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25, NKJV).
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:27-29, NKJV).
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (Matthew 6:31, NKJV).
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34, NKJV).
But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; (Matthew 10:19, NKJV).
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, 42, NKJV).
“And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? (Luke 12:25, 26, NKJV).
There is NOT ONE exhortation in the New Testament for a believer to worry or to be anxious. In fact, the opposite is true, as can be seen from the citations above. Jesus, Himself, makes it clear that anxiety indicates:
  • misdirected priorities (Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?; But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part)
  • an inflated view of our control over things and life (Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?; If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?)
  • an incorrect view of the sovereignty and omnipotence of God
  • and disbelief of the following:
    • And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, NKJV).
    • Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:30, NKJV).
    • But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37, NKJV).

This is serious stuff on at least two crucial levels. Unrelieved anxiety will alter everything about your life and your interface with the world. In response to it, you are guaranteed to become either resentful, despondent, or manipulative, and these are just the main headings under which reside a plethora of possible subheadings, like addiction-prone, compulsive, and/or hypocritical. Scratch the surface of many an unpleasant person and you will discover a bubbling cauldron of anxiety that MUST be relieved eventually, if only ultimately by death. 

Secondly, chronic anxiety is the opposite of faith. It leads to the temptation to rely on something or someone OTHER THAN GOD. This stands to reason, because a correct view of God in conjunction with a knowledgeable faith in God, alleviates anxiety infinitely better than any pharmaceutical (prescribed or otherwise), heretical Eastern mystic practices, frenetic, distracting activity, or cultivation of powerful friends in high places. Without that faith in God, all these other empty and futile solutions may appear to be your only desperate alternatives.

If you've read this far, I hope your mind is filled with "but what about…?" questions, because that is exactly where this is leading. But what about imminent danger? But what about a fearful and devastating illness? But what about not being able to provide for your family? But what about the prospect of losing a loved one, or a child? And finally, but what about the several million other things in life which we either cannot anticipate, or over which we have no influence?

That's the point! For every possible threat or loss or fear you can think of, in reality, you have NO CONTROL. You could take all the precautions in the world, but the simple truth is that something sudden and unexpected (from your perspective) could obliterate all your diligent, proactive preparation in an instant, and that which you feared most could come upon you like a meteor falling out of the sky. Here's the thing to remember, beloved: IT IS NOT UP TO YOU.

Yes, of course we are to be good stewards, and like the wise, when we see peril approach we take action. No, of course we are not to tempt God in any way by being deliberately careless or reckless. But common sense is not what's in view here. Dark and dreary and fearful dread of the unknown future is. And the only antidote for that is to come to the Throne of Grace in prayer and supplication believing that God is Who He says He is, and that He loves you with an everlasting love. Come to Him thankfully and lay at His feet ALL YOUR REQUESTS. Especially those that involve the fearful future. And in exchange, He will provide you with peace. Peace. 

Peace of mind, peace of heart, the peace of assurance, the peace of being loved by God, Himself, so much so that he will rearrange the world for you, His child. And that peace, so sublime, so supernatural, so freely given, is beyond mortal understanding, and it will act as an impenetrable shield and fortress around your troubled heart and restless mind, through Christ Jesus. He is the gatekeeper. He is your hedge and your strong tower. 

Jesus, and Jesus, alone.

He knows the number of your days, and the hair on your head. He knows the end from the beginning. He is the Sovereign God of all existence.

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (Psalms 139:16, NKJV).