casting anxieties (pt ii) – leaving anxieties.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about anxiety. I struggle with it a lot – some of it is physical anxiety that I’ve figured out is linked to a positively inordinate amount of caffeine intake; but some of it is very real, potent anxiety. I worry about paying off my credit cards, I worry about when I’ll ever get to take another fun trip, I worry about working too much, I worry about spending too much money, I worry about meeting a girl (or not doing so,) I worry about whether or not I’ll end up in ministry again, I worry about whether I’ll ever be transformed into the man of God I want to be and I know that God wants me to be.

Isn’t it funny how we’re addicted to anxiety? There’s this human mechanism that we’re all obsessed with – that even if a situation is way out of control, being conscious of it, we opine, is a good thing. And, in a lot of cases, that’s true. If you’re aware that you’re addicted to alcohol, the first step to recovery, they say, is to know you have a problem. If you spend too much money, it’s good to keep that in mind, because at least it stings a little when you spend a little more, and you become aware.

I’d like to take this thought two directions, at risk of compromising coherence and clarity.

First, I must begin with an acknowledgement of my addiction to anxiety. You know why I like anxiety? Because anxiety saves face for me. That is, anxiety is my way of making sure that the world (and God, ultimately) know(s) that I don’t have it all together. It’s my way of making sure expectations stay low. If I worry about it, I think, then nobody else has to worry about it. At least, like with other addictions, it’s good to know I’m addicted to anxiety – because I have to know it before I can do anything about it.

Second and more importantly, however, there’s a theological response to worry, and it’s one that I have failed to acknowledge, and I’m hoping that maybe you can take heart in.

Everyone knows Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV) – it’s one of those verses you learn early on in your Christian life, and the depth of truth and significance can often go overlooked and understated. Consider it –

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…

And consider 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT,) the basis for the original post –

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 

Giving them away and casting them aside seems so easy – often times, it seems like a simple prayer in which we name all of our fears, worries, anxieties, and pray that God take them for us. Sometimes it’s that simple. Sometimes I can pray myself into a good mood, when I truly consider the goodness of God and how much He really loves us.

But here’s what I’m finding to be difficult – not picking them back up.

The Bible doesn’t allude to anything about taking those anxieties back on. When Jesus promises us (the weary and heavy-laden) rest, He doesn’t say, “yeah, put your bags down for a while, and I’ll give you rest, and then pick ’em back up and get on your way.” Hebrews doesn’t say, “take a break, set weights aside for a little while until you can handle them again, then you can carry them again.”

No, there’s something that God’s trying to get at – anxiety (in its truest form) has no place in the life of the believer. Anxiety is a stronghold, a pattern of thinking, and it, like many other things, provides a false promise of a reward. After all, what even is there to be gained from anxiety? What good does it do us to worry? Jesus addressed that when he instructed His followers not to worry about what they eat or drink or what they’ll wear, because worry doesn’t add a single inch to our height (see: Matthew 6.) Worry doesn’t put food on the table, worry doesn’t pay the bills, worry doesn’t make friends, worry doesn’t make good company, worry doesn’t satisfy the deepest longings in our hearts.

 

God does not want you to carry anxiety.

Let me repeat.

God does not want you to carry anxiety.

God does not want you to carry anxiety.

(now I’m repeating for my own sake.)

God does not want you to carry anxiety.

 

It’s not helpful, it’s not useful, it’s not good. And the promise of God is that it can be done away with – it can be cast aside, it can, whether intellectually (we’d call it cognitive-behavioral therapy) or spiritually (we’d call it deliverance) be done away with – and may it be so.

 

May we learn the freedom of not worrying – may we learn the freedom of committing a future to the Lord as He wills it, may we learn to cast our mountains into the sea.

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