Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anxiety & Frustration

[First I must add that this particular chapter really convicted me.  Each & every week I am so anxious about finding time to get my Bible study done with a toddler in the house.  Wow!  What a slap in the face this was, a good slap though.]

Difficulties usually occur in the ordinary activities & responsilbilities of life, wheras pain is likely generated by extraordinary events.

In the New Testament LOVE was taught some fifty times.  HUMILITY was a close second with forty instances.  TRUST IN GOD in all our circumstances was third, being taught thirteen or more times.

The opposite of trust in God is either anxiety or frustration.  Jesus had a lot to say about this. 

In Matthew 6:25-34 He uses the word ANXIOUS six times. 

Also see Matt 10:31, Luke 12:7, Philip 4:6, 1 Pet 5:7

In other words, it is the moral will of God that we not be anxious.  To say it more explicitly, anxiety is sin.

Anxiety is sin for two reasons. 
First, it is a distrust of God.  So when I give way to anxiety, I am, in effect, believing that God does not care for me & that He will not take care of me in the partcular circumstance that triggers my anxiety of the moment.
Second, it is a lack of acceptance of God's providence in our lives.  God's providence is defined as God's orchestrating all circumstances & events in His universe for His glory & the good of His people.  We tend to focus on the immediate causes of our anxiety rather than remembering that those immediate causes are under the sovereign control of God.

Will I succumb to the tempation to anxiety & fret & fume, or will I believe that God is in sovereign control of my travel & accept His agenda, whatever that my be?  I have come to the conslusion that my anxiety is triggered not so much by a distrust in God as by an unwillingness to submit to & cheerfully accept His agenda for me.

We are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes & immediate instruments of events; forgetting that whatever befalls us is according to His purpose, & therefore must be right & seasonable in itself, & shall in the issue be productive of good.

And acceptance of God's providential will doesn't mean we are not to pray about the eventual outcome.  Paul's command to not be anxous is accompanied by the instuction to pray about whatever situation is tempting us to be anxious.  So it is appropriate to pray for relief & for deliverance from whatever circumstance is triggering our anxiety, but we should always do so with an attitude of acceptance of whatever God's providential will may be & a confidence that, whatever the outcome, God's will is better than our plans or desires.

Ask God to give you faith to believe that His providential will for you in these circumstance comes to you from His infinite wisdom & goodness & is ultimately intended for your good.  And then ask God to give you a heart that is submissive to His providential will when it is contrary to your own plans.

Worry is synonym for anxiety.  The kinds of circumstances that tend to keep a person awake at night "worrying" about what to do while realizing there is nothing one can do. (Matt 6:34)

We do have the promises of God & the ministry of the Holy Spirit to help us in these difficult times.

It's true, however, that oftentimes the situation at hands looms larger in our mind that the promises of God. 

Instead of believing that God is sovereignly in control over the actions of my computer & that He has a good reason for allowing it to act up, I get frustrated.  This type of reaction has its roots in my ungodliness at the moment, for at that time I am living as though God is not involved in my life or my circumstance.  In the heat of the moment,I tend not to think about God at all.  Instead, I focus entirely on the immediate cause of my frustration.

Pslm 139:16  "Days ordained for me" refers not only to the length of my life but to all the events & circumstances of each day of my life.  "This circumstance is part of Your plan for my life today.  Help me to respond in faith & in a God-honoring way to Your providential will.  And then please give me wisdom to know how to address the situation that tends to cause the frustration."

Specific applicable Scripture & dependence on the Holy Spirit expressed through prayer to enable me to respond in a godly manner.  And then pray for practical wisdom to know how to deal with the situation.

It is also beneficial to ask God if there is something I need to learn, or if there is something I need to be attentive to.

Both anxiety & frustration are sins.  They are not to be taken ligtly or brushed off as common reactions we have to difficult events in a fallen world.  Whatever in our lives that isn't like Jesus is sin.  Granted, we will never achieve complete freedom from anxiety or frustration in this life (at least I don't expect to).  But we should never accept them as just part of our temperament any more than we would accept adultery as part of our temperament.

These are excerpts from "Respectable Sins" by Jerry Bridges

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