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Dealing with Anxiety

By August 10, 2020Church

It is human nature to want to be in control. If you think about it, does anyone really like to be out of control! Those are the people we avoid.

Everything is fine until we land on something we can’t control. Even then … if it’s only one thing, we can usually muddle our way through it. But what if it’s not one thing but two or three or ten? What if they all happen at same time?

Making matters worse, our anxieties are increased in a culture where we have information overload. We live with 24-7 news cycles and social media feeds that never sleep.

Then we begin to wonder …

What will the future look like? When will things be normal again? Is this the new normal?

It’s OK to be uncertain about the future. But we have to be careful that our reasonable uncertainties don’t grow into unreasonable anxieties.

How does the gospel address our anxieties?

When we declare our dependence on God, he has promised to bear our anxieties.

Our main passage is found in 1 Peter 5. At first glance, the apostle Peter seems like an unlikely person to lecture us about anxiety.

  • When Jesus walked on water, Peter jumped out of the boat to join him only to worry about drowning.
  • When Jesus predicted the way he would suffer and die, Peter worried that Jesus was misguided and tried to stop him.
  • When Jesus was arrested in Garden of Gethsemane, Peter panicked, drew his sword, and cut off a guy’s ear.

The Peter we find in the gospels is impetuous, proud, and prone to worry. What happened? Jesus died and came back to life – and Peter became a new person.

In 1 Peter 5, Peter draws a direct connection between our dependence on God and how we handle anxiety.

5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:5-7

Peter mentions three key words – pride, humility, and casting. Let’s talk about each of them.

Pride is when we want to take the place of God. Peter isn’t talking about wanting to do a good job; he’s talking about wanting to be in charge. It began with Adam and Eve and not much has changed.

In this respect, pride is much more dangerous than the coronavirus. We can be prideful about wearing mask and we can be prideful about not wearing mask. The point is to not be prideful.

Why is pride so dangerous? It keeps us depending on ourselves instead of God.

Humility is having a right understanding of God and yourself. To put it  simply, God is God and you are not. Our culture emphasizes self-sufficiency. “You can do this. You can handle it.”

The gospel, on the other hand, reminds us that only Jesus is all-sufficient.

Thomas Watson, an English pastor in 1600’s wrote: “Till we are poor in spirit we are not capable of receiving grace. He who is swollen with an opinion of self-excellency and self-sufficiency, is not fit for Christ. He is full already. If the hand be full of pebbles, it cannot receive gold.”

Prideful people hold on to their pebbles. Humble people learn to cast their cares on God.

Casting your cares on God takes practice. I’m not a fisherman. I eat fish. But I did fish once as a kid. Thanks be to God, I didn’t hurt anyone!

The first time you fish, it’s hard to cast your line where you want it to go. It goes behind you, gets tangled in a tree. Learning to cast a fishing line takes practice.

The same is true when it comes to depending on God.

Casting our cares on God takes practice because it doesn’t come natural to us. What does come natural is … pride. Sanctification is the process of unlearning bad habits and learn better ones. Repentance is required to change course.

When anxiety creeps in, do you take your concerns to God or to Facebook? Humble people cast their anxieties on God. Proud people don’t.

While it’s true God is interested in your wellbeing, he’s not the only one.

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith … 1 Peter 5:8-9a

The devil is not your friend. He’s like a roaring lion looking for an opportunity to attack. And when are we most susceptible? It’s when we are anxious and operating independent of God.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: when I’m faced with an uncertainty that I allow to grow into an anxiety … I tend to make bad decisions when I operate entirely in my own wisdom and strength.

I make better decisions when I stand firm in what I believe.

And as much as I’d like to think that I have Satan’s undivided attention, Peter reminds us that’s not the case.

… because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:9b-11

What does the gospel promise?

The gospel promises … you are not alone. Others are facing similar struggles. The devil will try to convince you that no one else understands what you’re going through. The gospel reminds us that is not true.

The gospel promises … what we face in this life is temporary. Peter says our sufferings only last for a “little while.” As much as I would like to quantify that for you, I can’t. I can’t tell you that it will only be 30 minutes or 30 days. But I can tell you this: It might feel like it’s going to last forever, but it won’t.

The gospel promises … God himself will restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. God does not delegate or outsource our wellbeing. “He himself will restore you.” Only the gospel can restore us back to what God originally intended for us to experience.

That’s why we can say:

“To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Experience and Background

  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in management and leadership
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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