A friend died this week. Our family is also dealing with a personal sadness. We're scared of tragedy and death, but it's part of life in this broken world. We're scared of change. There is an actual reason for this. Quote from a medical doctor, "The brain is always trying to automate things and to create habits, which it imbues with feelings of pleasure. Holding to the tried and true gives us a feeling of security, safety and competence while at the same time reducing our fear of the future and of failure." That's me. I love security, safety and competence. I find peace in rituals and "sameness" and family and my "stuff." But if we're counting on these things, are we failing to trust the only one who can give us real security?
With our church leadership in chaos, I've been hungry for the Word--for truth, for substance, for nourishment, for answers to questions. And I've found some great spiritual food from Matt Chandler. (Search youtube for his sermons. Great guy, great wisdom.) I recently listened to "Examining Fear and Anxiety." This from a man diagnosed with brain cancer. Now that would produce some fear. I am listening to this because I have been so anxious lately.
Jesus had a lot to say about anxiety. It seems to be a common human ailment. Am I the only one? Jesus says in Matthew 6, "Do not be anxious about your life." He says it over and over! Why don't we pay attention? Jesus says worry will not give us anything that we need. But he says God knows what we need. He tells us to look around at birds and flowers of the field. The whole world is in his control. God does not promise bliss and a perfect life. But he promises to take care of us and give us what we need.
So how do we address our fears? Jesus says to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things (we need and stress about) will be given to us. He says, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." So Jesus is saying we will have trouble? I think so. But not to worry about it? Matt says deal with TODAY. God is with us to get us through with all the strength and wisdom we need TODAY. Ask him for it. Do we have all we need to get through tomorrow? Well, not right now we don't. But God will give us what we need each and every day. "Give us this day our daily bread..." It's in this same chapter of Matthew. Another interesting passage in this same chapter is about laying up treasures on earth. Jesus says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." The more value we place on something, the more anxiety we'll have about that thing. We need to watch our priorities.
Faith is our weapon to fight anxiety. "Seek first his kingdom..." Matt says, "You will get God and he will be enough. Win the day!" "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22, 23. If we fear tomorrow, we won't enjoy today. Be grateful for what you have today.
Let's quit pretending we're not scared. Give it over to God. Talk to him. Trust him. We are not in control--never have been, never will be. Our lives are in his hands. Remember all he's already done for us. Trust him for the future. Why would he stop caring for us now? God wants us to get out of the boat and get in the water so we will grow in faith and grow in our dependence on him. Life changes help us grow. And yes, bad things happen sometimes. But we have a God who loves us and will see us through the hard times.