We live with the constancy of the unknown. We don’t know what today will bring, much less tomorrow. We live in a world of constant trials. We live in a world of fluid economics, wars, and terrible tragedies. We live in a world that is tainted by sin. We attempt to map out our lives to the last detail, but at the end of the day, we all have to claim ignorance of the future. We are not as in control as we think we are. When things don’t go as planned, the usual result is fear, anxiety, and worry. My prayer is that by the end of this post, you will be equipped to wage war against these emotions that rage inside of you.
When Courtney and I moved to Worcester, Massachusetts in 2017, we moved without knowing a single person or having any jobs. We were moving in faith that Worcester was the place that the Lord was calling us to minister and serve for His glory. We were ecstatic and eager to see what God would do through us as we sought to minister to the great people in this city. However, after a short amount of time, our lives became dim. We weren’t making any money. I applied for several jobs and never got an interview. Courtney was working the job she has now, but her salary wasn’t enough to sustain us in Massachusetts.
We were without funds for a few months and began to worry that we may not be able to stay. We were saddened and confused because we truly believed that this is where God was calling us to serve. There was one month where we did not have the funds to pay for our apartment. Our credit card was becoming close to being maxed out and we had no other options.
I felt devastated. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was letting down my family in the sense that I promised my wife that I would provide for her and our children. This season took an excruciating toll on me and one that I have never truly opened up to others. To say that we were worried and anxious is an understatement. We felt alone. We felt hopeless.
I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. I remember sitting in our living room of our small two-bedroom apartment and listening to my wife say that we weren’t going to be able to pay rent that month. I began to question whether or not God had truly called us to this city. I began to show my discouragement. My wife, however, gave me some of the best advice that I have ever received. She said, “Josh, if the Lord wants us here, He is going to provide for us.”
It was in that moment that I felt conviction like I have never experienced before. I felt like such a hypocrite. How often have I pointed others to the goodness and sovereignty of our God? Did I truly believe that my God was a God that provides for His children or not? What did we do? We prayed. We prayed for God to deepen our trust in His calling on our lives. We prayed that God would strengthen our faith in Him. How did God answer our prayers? Did He give us millions of dollars in the bank account? Did He provide us with fancy cars and a nicer place to live? No. He did not. Our prayers weren’t answered immediately, but they were answered.
Shortly after, I received a call from some individuals that felt like God was moving them to support our work in New England. I received a call from a church that said they were sending us a check. This check would pay for the month’s rent and a little bit after that. We also received a call from another church that wanted to send extra support. The crazy thing is, we didn’t make this known to anyone as we were praying. We hadn’t reached out to others for help or let them know of our situation. It was the providential hand of our God that was supplying our every need. God was reminding us that His character is the remedy for our anxiety and worry. The Bible has much to say about fear, anxiety, and worry. However, what we see in God’s Word are not praiseworthy tributes to these emotions, but words of condemnation. The Bible speaks out against these emotions, not for them.
Jesus says, “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious 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 (Matt. 6:25)?” In this verse, we see that Jesus directly speaks out against anxiety. He tells us not to be anxious about the temporal things of life. Yet how often do we disobey this command? The Apostle Paul later says, “Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).”
We see in these two verses that we are commanded not to be worrisome and anxious.
Why then, are we constantly overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and fear? The reason may surprise you.
We are fearful, worrisome, and anxious because we have disbelief. We do not believe in the sovereignty and providence of God. Fear and anxiety demonstrate a lack of trust in God. Our emotions expose what we really believe in and trust. Think about it. When we’re anxious about how others will perceive us, we are demonstrating a fear of man, not God. Fear of others is the result of forsaking what God has to say about you. Do we live by man’s approval or God’s? As Christians, we should be living by God’s approval. Yet, how often are our lives oriented around receiving the praise of man?
Sadly, too many Christians have bought into the lie that we must be accepted by the world. We shouldn’t live for their approval because their approval ultimately is futile. It’s meaningless. How others perceive you will not be your comfort when you stand before a Holy God.
When we orient our lives to receive the acceptance of man, we are placing man’s approval above God’s. When we are anxious about our finances or other temporal aspects of life, we are demonstrating a distrust in the provision of our God. God will give you what you need in the moment that you need it. God knows what is best for you and will supply every one of your needs for the praise of His glory. It’s important to know that what we think we need and what He knows we need are two very different things. God will give always give you what you need. He may not provide what we’re asking for; instead, he may be using this as a time to prune away your reliance on the temporal to increase your faith in the eternal.
Brian Borgman rightfully says, “when we fail to believe that God is for us, will take care of us, has our future in his hands, and is with us right now, we cave in to fear, worry, or anxiety (Feelings and Faith, 128).” We know that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3) and that God is for us (Rom. 8:31). We know that God uses the trials of this life to sanctify us in producing steadfastness (James 1:3-4). We know that even though we are going through the fiery trials of this life, He is holding our hand through it all (Isaiah 41:10).
How then, do we fight against these emotions that seek to tear us down?
First, we overcome fear and anxiety through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We understand that no matter what may happen to us, if we are in Christ, we have all that we need. Let financial troubles go, let the worry about others go, let the fear of the unknown go, because at the end of the day, we are in Christ.
Second, we look to God’s character. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” We know that God is faithful, He is good, He is holy, righteous, and merciful. “He has provided all that He is for our safety (Feelings and Faith, 129).”
Third, we trust in the sovereignty of God. We know that He is ordering the affairs of our lives. He is in control of all that happens to us. God is using the affairs of our lives for our good and for His glory. If we are in Christ, He will conform us to the image of His son. The promises of God never fail. The character of God is the remedy for our anxiety and fear in life.
Fourth, we go to God in prayer. We tell Him how we are feeling, and we confess our sin of trying to be God by ordering the affairs of our lives. We ask for His forgiveness and ask that He would use this as a time to strengthen our faith and trust in Him. God is faithful. He will answer this prayer and you will be amazed, when you let go of these emotions, how much joy you have in resting in the tender mercies of the Father.
What are you running to for the cure of your anxiety and fear? Analyze your life and see what you are using/doing to combat these emotions and begin to take every thought captive and turn it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). My prayer is that the darkness of life will not become your ultimate reality. For darkness never has the last word in the life of the Christian, victory does. Set your eyes on Jesus and walk to follow Him.
Soli Deo Gloria
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