Living with Anxiety

As a child I was afraid of the dark. I was especially afraid of noises in the dark. I remember one particular dark night when there was an unfamiliar noise coming from outside. When my Dad said goodnight he noticed my distress.  I heard him go outside for a few minutes and then come to my bedroom. He asked me to follow him so he could show me how the tree branches were rubbing against the house. That was the offending unfamiliar noise. He tucked me back into bed, the noise explained, my anxiety subsided.

I was anxious. My Dad was there to ease my fears. He was with me, close at hand. He didn’t scold me for being afraid.

There is a verse in Philippians that talks about anxiety.

“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.” Philippians 4:6-7

Too often this verse is used as a club to shame a fellow Christian who is struggling. The “club” is often wielded by someone who hasn’t walked through dark waters.

I think the verses in Philippians are meant to reassure us, not scold or shame us. It simply says if we go to our Father, His unexplainable peace will enfold us. He has promised to be with us. He can be trusted to keep His word.

But this is the hard bit.

He doesn’t promise to take us out of the trouble, but in verse 9 he promises something better.

“…and the God of peace will be with you.”

We need Him desperately. We don’t always know how desperately we need Him. When trouble comes we find out how valuable His presence is. Bit by bit we learn to depend on Him. The longer we are by His side the more we can relax in His presence. We don’t gain self-confidence we gain God-confidence.

Being with my dad on that dark night reassured me. My circumstance hadn’t changed. The night was still dark. The noise was still there, but my dad was there to be with me.

How much more can my heavenly Father reassure me. In my anxiety I can turn to the only one who can ease my fears.  Believe it. Cling to His promise.

“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

Don’t Be Unreasonable!

We dread dealing with the unreasonable person, yet more and more we are a people who demand our rights, voice our opinion and complain when things don’t go our way.

Our hearts ache so much from our own issues that sometimes we take it out on the next unfortunate soul who comes across our path.

We are masters at blaming those in leadership, those who sit across the aisle, those with a different view or conviction than ours. We blame anyone but ourselves. “Freedom of speech!” we proclaim loudly, but only wish it for those who agree with our way of thinking.

Yet, as Christians we are called to be reasonable. (Not doormats, but reasonable.)

Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” That verse implies they had something to be unreasonable about. We tend to excuse unreasonableness when we have a “good reason”. The trouble is we always have a good reason, but Paul doesn’t include a qualifier. Not just our friends and those we love. “Everyone”, even those we disagree with.

This verse is sandwiched between; “rejoice in the Lord always” and “do not be anxious about anything.” (vs. 4 & 6) The words always and anything don’t allow for exceptions either. How is this kind of life even possible?

If God is our life, like we claim, storms won’t shift our eyes off of Him. We rejoice that He is with us in the storm. We rejoice that this life isn’t all there is. We rejoice that this “momentary light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17) is just that; momentary in the time table of eternity.

We won’t be anxious knowing that our God sees, hears and knows our difficulty. That to worry about what might happen shows a lack of faith in the one we have put our trust in. To know that whatever happens, good or bad, He is there with us. We will brave the storm together. We will learn more of His faithfulness through it.

And so as His redeemed children we rejoice, we put anxiety aside, we learn to be reasonable. In our own strength impossible. But our God makes all the difference. If He can raise Christ from the dead he can transform us as well.