Monday, November 9, 2020

What My Anxiety Teaches Me - Kent Kloter

I got an email sometime in the past with a couple of thoughts that I believe are more common among modern American Christians than one might realize. 
Here’s the first one, “…what does it mean to live faithfully with anxiety?”.
A second and wise follow up thought, "I've been trying to ask myself what God is trying to teach me through my anxiety. And how he may use me to help others who struggle?”

Let’s start with a few biblical principles to help answer the question, “What does God want me to learn about anxiety?”
Anxiety weighs us down (Pr.12:25).
Jesus tells us that anxiety is a form of fear, rooted in unbelief, “Oh you of little faith.” (Matt. 6:30b).
Anxiety (fear/worry) is to be put off. (Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:6)
God commands us to throw our anxieties onto him (1 Peter 5:8), because He cares and is mighty enough to handle the concerns that we have that we are unable to handle. The implications are that anxiety is overcome by trusting in God’s Almighty hand.

Isaiah also teaches that fear, worry and anxiety are rooted in unbelief, saying “you…failed to remember Me”, “…you do not fear me”. "Whom have you dreaded and feared, so that you lied and failed to remember Me or take this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear Me? (Is. 57:11) Isaiah also describes the compounding sins of unbelief and fear, namely those of lying and deceit, forgetting God, failing to dwell on God, flailing to trust God and failing to fear God.

When we “see” our problems and dangers in the context of a small, unfaithful god, our anxieties, fears and worries become disproportionately large and therefor rule our hearts. Anxiety is fueled by thoughts about the unknown, about the future without considering God’s power and care for us.

What does God want us to learn about anxiety? The level of our anxiety might be used as a “God-meter”, helping us consider the functional size of our God or gods. Paul writes about anxiety from the depths of a Roman prison to remind us “to be anxious for nothing, but instead to rejoice and be thankful while we pray about our specific concerns and ask God for our specific needs (Phil. 4:4-9).

These principles inform our answer to the second question, “…what does it mean to live faithfully with anxiety?” Anxiety, fear and worry will not consistently exist when a follower of Christ trusts in the promises and character of God and faithfully seeks to obey Him even when life is difficult and troublesome. God's antidote to anxiety, worry and fear is trusting in the LORD.
I think it's accurate to say that the level of our anxiety, worry and fear is directly proportional to the level of our functional trust in the LORD.
Ps. 119:165 says "Great Peace" have those who love your law; NOTHING can make them stumble. (ESV). In other words, NOTHING shall cause me to stay in the pit of worry, anxiety and fear.
David said, (Ps. 56:3-4) "WHEN, (not IF, but WHEN I'm afraid) I PUT my TRUST in YOU. In God, whose word I praise, In GOD I TRUST; I SHALL NOT be afraid." I take this to mean that David was struck with fear, perhaps many times in his life, BUT that he had learned to fight fear with faith by choosing to train his thoughts to focus on God, God's Word, God's character, God's nature, God's promises and the promised outcomes for his own life. His circumstances likely did not change, but the focus of David's thoughts moved from what he was afraid of, toward the promises and power of his God, which replace anxiety, worry and fear with a growing sense of peace.

How would you respond if you had a literal, face-to-face encounter with Jesus? How would you take his words if you heard him say this directly to you, “__________, are you not of more value than they [sparrows]?" (Matt. 6:26) How would these words affect your anxiety today?

May the God of all comfort, comfort your anxious heart today (2 Cor. 1:3-11)

Kent Kloter

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