For it is by grace you have been saved...

Friday, April 6, 2018

Don't Be Anxious About Your Anxiety

I can be a real mess.  I mentioned in the last post about anxiety being the prompt for the whole thing.  And I've confessed here, and to our church, on many occasions this ongoing struggle. But what really gets me is the circular pattern I can get into.

I start to feel anxious about something.  And then knowing that I am commanded in Scripture not to feel anxious, I get upset about being anxious.  And then my anxiety increases as I become more anxious, and more anxious about being anxious, and... well, you get the point.  Told you I was a mess.

As I got to thinking about this, I realized that while it is still wrong for me to be anxious, it may be even worse to be anxious about being anxious.  Because God knew I would struggle with this. That's why He has to tell me in His Word, over and over, not to fear; not to be anxious.  I don't think He would have felt the need to repeat this so many times had He not known what a real, ongoing temptation this was going to be. 

And not just for me. I'm not arrogant to think that God wrote all those things just for my particular case.  He must have known that His people in general would struggle here. 

Now, before I go any further, let's put this one little thing to rest.  I have heard, read, been told that God says “Do not fear” exactly 365 times in the Bible, one for each day of the year.  Isn't that amazing??  Of course, a few problems here:
    1) The Jewish calendar only has 354 days.  The 365 day calendar is a much more modern invention, so to say that God put that number in the Bible just for us today ignores the multitudes who came before us.  Pretty arrogant, don't you think?
    2) A survey of the Biblical text shows that combining all references to not being afraid, all commands, all variations of words, etc., doesn't total anywhere near that number.  I've done my own counting, read several others, and while we all had different numbers (based on translations, what we included, etc) the most anyone came up with was about 250.
    3) Does God really need to say it once a day to get the point across.  I've read this like it makes it a special command because of the 365.  God only needs to say it once for it to be true.

So, forget that little piece of fake trivia.  And yet, the truth is that though God doesn't need to repeat a command, this happens to be one that He does repeat.  Not 365 times, but frequently.  Which says to me that He knows this will be an issue. We need to hear it. I can't imagine Him bothering to repeat a command that folks aren't even going to struggle with.

So don't be anxious about being anxious.  God knows it's a struggle.  I'm not excusing the lack of faith and maturity that often leads to that anxiety in the first place.  After all, God does indeed command me to “be anxious for nothing.”  I need to obey that.  Not excuse it.  But I also don't need to continue to beat myself up over the struggle when obviously God knew that struggle would be real.

Instead of focusing on the fear, or on the sin of fear, put your eyes where they are supposed to be.  On Christ.  C. H. Spurgeon once said, “Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will guide you into the haven of peace.”  I'll just put an “amen” here.

No comments: