March 6, 2016

Luke 21:34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”

It just hit me that here Jesus is putting anxiety on the same level as dissipation and drunkenness. The more I think about it, the more that boggles my mind. Growing up in a Baptist missionary household as I did, dissipation and drunkenness were “automatic outs,” so to speak, but anxiety was a completely different matter. The thing is, anxiety displays a lack of faith, and “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) That’s just further proof that we all are completely dependent on the grace of God. The reason Jesus brings up anxiety here is that just as much as dissipation or drunkenness, it distracts us from God. The devil doesn’t much care what he uses, so long as he can get our attention off of God. Because to human logic it doesn’t seem as bad as a lot of other things, we tend to overlook it or even expect it. In a sense it really is part of the human condition, which is why Jesus specifies, “of life,” but here He makes it very clear that we must not let it consume our minds so that we can’t see God and what He is doing. When our hearts are truly tuned to God, we both rest secure in Him and are sensitive and obedient to all that He tells us to do. Anxiety keeps us from that, as much as anything else does.

Ouch! Like everyone else, I have let “what if” scenarios take over my mind more times than I could count. I am not to be blind to possibilities, but my attitude should be, “even if.” Faith and trust do not preclude common sense and preparation, but they should keep our focus on God who is the solution to our problems, rather than on the problems themselves. As a pastor I have dealt with people who were genuinely consumed by anxiety. It does no good to lecture such people, any more than it does to lecture an alcoholic. Rather, they need people to be “Jesus with skin on” to hold and comfort them and then assure them that God’s got everything in His hands. In practical terms, gender differences need to be observed in such things, because the devil will use anything he can to trip us up, but with that understood, actions are far more powerful than words. Also, how I deal with potentially anxiety-producing situations is a powerful testimony to those around me. I’ve had a lot of opportunity for that with my wife’s health in recent months! I am not to be dishonest about my reactions, but I am to let my struggles encourage others, because God’s grace is both essential and sufficient for every one of us, if we will only open up to receive it.

Father, thank You for this powerful Word. Thank You for how You have been carrying me through this season. Help me be an open channel of Your grace to all, especially those closest to me, so that together we may keep our focus on Christ Jesus our Lord, for our blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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