The Answer to Anxiety (Part 3)

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:1-4 ESV). Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just do longer devotionals rather than divide the study into the brief format of one page. However, here we are. As the fabled Master Jedi Yoda might have said, “Worry you should not; learn you shall.” Yesterday we saw one response to the truth that our fear is rooted in unfaithfulness. Today we see there is another possible response to the truth that our anxiety is rooted in our unbelief in God’s promises. It goes like this: I have to deal with feelings of anxiety almost every day; and so I feel like my belief in God must be totally inadequate. So I wonder if I can have any assurance of being saved at all. We must understand that being faithless is vastly different than having our faith attacked. Suppose you are in a car race and your enemy who doesn’t want you to finish the race throws mud on your windshield. The fact that you temporarily lose sight of your goal and start to swerve does not mean that you are going to quit the race. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong racetrack. Otherwise the enemy wouldn’t bother you at all. What it means is that you should turn on your windshield wipers and use your windshield washer. When anxiety strikes and blurs our vision of God’s glory and the greatness of the future that he plans for us, this does not mean that we are faithless, or that we will not make it to heaven. It means our faith is being attacked. At first blow our belief in God’s promises may sputter and swerve. But whether we stay on track and make it to the finish line depends on whether we set in motion a process of resistance, whether we fight back against anxiety. Will we turn on the windshield wipers and will we use our windshield washer or quit in resignation to the enormity of our circumstance? Our reading today says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee.” Notice it does not say, “I never struggle with fear.” The sequence is sure: Fear strikes and the battle begins. So the Bible does not assume that true believers will have no anxieties. Instead the Bible tells us how to fight when they strike. The apostle says, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 3:5). It does not say, you will never feel any anxieties to cast onto God. Some of us just need to turn the windshield wipers...

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