Anxiety; September 24, 2017

Job 3:25-26 “What I feared has come upon me;
what I dreaded has happened to me.
I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

One of the important characteristics of Job is his honesty. He is completely past “putting on airs.” I really think that’s why God commended him rather than his friends who uttered platitudes. In the section leading up to this, Job makes a rather astute observation, that everyone who dies is equally dead, whatever their age or station in society. We tend to think of one death as more tragic than another, but in the middle of his suffering, any death seems attractive to Job. Taken rightly, what Job has said should be a real comfort to the parents of any stillborn child, for example. Such a child hasn’t had a chance to sin, so their eternal destiny is secure. The thing is, everyone dies at one point or another, so our goal is to be ready whenever that point comes. Most of us set rather different goals! What Job says right here speaks to the whole issue of anxiety. Anxiety makes us suffer ahead of time, and effectively multiplies our suffering. God has provided peace for us, but we have to choose to receive it. Sometimes that choice is pretty difficult! Like Job, we find our minds and hearts in turmoil, because what has happened brings up images of even worse, and we torment ourselves with what might never happen. This is where faith and trust come in. The only real fortress against anxiety is an absolute assurance of who God is, and that He loves us totally. If we can wrap our minds and hearts around that, anxiety has nowhere to take root. Part of that is a clear-eyed awareness that in this world we will have trouble, just as Jesus said, (John 16:33) so when it hits it’s no big deal. The reason why it’s no big deal is that what God has prepared for us once we’re past this world is so wonderful as to make any temporal troubles completely insignificant. (2 Corinthians 4:17) Once we have that assurance, life is much more enjoyable!

This of course applies as much to me as it does to anyone. I deal with people constantly who focus on their problems, and they are quite pathetic. I could easily make a basket case of myself if I were to do the same. My biggest potential anxieties have to do with this church and with my wife’s health. If I let myself dwell on them, feeling that somehow I have to prevent all the “what if” scenarios, I would be a useless, nervous wreck. I am not to ignore potential problems if my actions are in any way related to them, but whatever the nature of the problem, I need to remember that God’s grace is sufficient to get me through it. (2 Corinthians 12:9) As the song says, “I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.” There are moments, frankly, when that’s not so easy to remember, but God is growing me in His peace.

Father, thank You for Your absolute faithfulness. Thank You that Your faithfulness, power, love, grace, mercy, and all the rest are so much greater than all of my failures. Help me rest in that assurance, in deep, abiding gratitude, so that You will receive all the glory for everything You have done, are doing, and will do in my life. 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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