I’ve noticed lately more than ever that the default state of humanity, even within the church, seems to be anxiety, pessimism, anger, and suspicion. And I am not immune to the tendency. What a far cry it is from the life of peace, joy, love, and trust that Christianity offers! My exhausted mind and heart are asking, is there a path from here to there, and can I take the first step today?
I memorized the words long ago, that I should cast all my anxieties on God, because He cares for me. To do that, I must truly believe that He cares for me. Little did I know, as a child singing “Jesus loves me,” how hard that act of belief would become once life had given me a few deep scars. “Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” (Romans 10:17, BSB). If I’m going to overcome the lies the enemy speaks over my past, present, and future, I need to rehearse the promises of God’s Word more often than my worries. In a 2019 study, 91% of the participants’ worries never came true. But we know that “no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ,” (2 Corinthians 1:20a, NIV). To give worry the boot, I must start with letting the voice of truth be louder than the lies of fear in my life.
Choosing to let the Word of Christ drown out the clamor of negative thoughts takes another hard-to-come-by ingredient: humility. That encouragement I memorized as a child? Here it is in context: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:6-7, ESV). To let go of my anxieties, I will have to own that I am fearful, that I can’t solve all my own problems, and that my Father knows better than I do what I need. One practical way of humbling myself may look like setting aside a “must-do” item in the morning, and a favorite form of relaxation in the evening, in order to turn to Scripture and worship, and let the voice of Love have the first and the last word in my day.
I will not be able to block out all the bad news and all the reasons to worry – especially not in a year like 2020. And I don’t need to. I can fully acknowledge when the messages coming in make me anxious, and then cast (literally “throw forcefully”) that anxiety on my fearless Savior. I can be moved by the sorrows of the world, and bring that to Him as well, to be cradled in His strong arms.
I pray that today, when anxiety or negativity grips you as well, you will look for ways to let Jesus speak over the situation. And then do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, until your habit of worry is transformed into a habit of reciting and believing promises.