I wrote a blog the other day on wrestling anxiety, and thought it would help to follow it up with some practical theological steps to wrestling anxiety. However, let me set the stage by first saying that all of this is easier said than done. Our impulsive action in fighting our fears, is to use the truth of God’s love. Though this is a fight in the right direction, it is only half the battle won. It is equally important that we set our hearts on the path of fearing God, which is the natural outcome of a pursuit of knowing Him more and more. This is why I spent a large chunk of the previous blog on the fear of God. We must meditate and bathe ourselves in the word of God, that our hearts may rest peacefully in this holy fear of God. I know, beloved, that it is easier to preach about this than it is to wrestle with our hearts. But remember that Christ has not left us empty-handed in this battle. He has given us His word, the sword of the Spirit. And in His word, He calms us with His love (Zephaniah 3:17).
Matthew 6:25-34 – 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? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
I love this passage and I want to show you how I use this passage to remind me of God’s lovingkindness towards me, and to help me fight my own anxieties. I have put my thought under five headings and pray that you are encouraged to hope, with me, in God’s promises.
1. The Father knows – There is no struggle that I face, no fear that I wrestle, and no tear that I shed, that the Lord my God does not already know. He is intimately acquainted with my ways. The Father knows exactly what I fear and He knows exactly what I need. Remember the sovereignty of God and use the hope that comes from knowing that He knows. He knows it even before I let Him know it in my prayers.
2. The Father cares – Jesus gives the example of birds and plants, expendable creatures that I care very little about and yet God cares for them. He has the time to make sure they’re fed and they grow. Remember that the God of the universe has time to care for the very least of His creation such as birds and plants, how much more would he care for me?
3. The Father values you – How much more would He care for me! I am far more valuable. Far more valuable to whom? To Him! He created me in His own image. Remember O my soul that my value comes not from my heart or intrinsic self worth, but it comes from God and if God so values me more than all of His other creations, how much more would he care for me than He does for the rest of them!
4. The Father gives – I am often anxious about my wants more than my needs. Such anxieties are worthless and I must fight them. I can be assured that the Father will give me what I need and often even the things I want and don’t really need. He will give me what is truly good for me. Therefore, if I receive, I know the Father has given, and if I do not, I know the Father has withheld. I know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). I remember that the Father gives and I will not lack anything for He is my provider and He provides everything for my good.
5. Seek first His Kingdom, and do not be anxious – Christ reassures me to not be anxious. Such a command to not fearcannot merely be obeyed by simply understanding the four points above, but it requires the habitual exercise to seek, first, the Kingdom of God. When I pursue God first instead of this world or the priorities of this world, I will find that my anxieties indeed reduce. When I pursue God first, the fear of Him will increase and the desire for this world will decrease, and, in turn, so will my unholy fears. Remember that the fight against anxiety is not fought in the front lines of my particular tensions or anxieties but behind enemy lines where my unholy fears collude, and in that place I must battle with the truth of the Gospel, in holy fear of a King who has already overcome the world.
We can fight the good fight I wish to end with this encouraging thought – that no war is fought alone by any one soldier, but an army bearing the flag and colours of their side. Remember, beloved, that you are not in this fight alone, and that your brothers and sisters are fighting the same battle right next to you. Therefore, plug yourself into a healthy local church where, together, you may raise the flag of the Kingdom of God. Do not be anxious!