A Christian Response to an Anxious Society

Humanity has grown steadily more fast paced, more driven by effectiveness, and more readily living at 140 characters or less. While our productivity has seemingly sped up, we have begun to see the impact this has on our lives. An American Psychological Association study looked at reasons college students sought out counseling, and between 2007 and 2013 there was an increase of about 10% (36.5% to 46.5%) among those who sought help specifically for anxiety. Another report done by the CCMH (Center for Collegiate Mental Heath) reported in 2014 that over the course of 3 years there was nearly an 8% increase in the number of American students seeking help at mental health counseling centers for anxiety, depression, and other disorders(1). This is happening in all stages of life and among all types of social groups.

So as Christians, what is our response to this growing tide of issues, swelling against our students and ourselves? In some cases, I believe it is a medical issue that needs to be diagnosed and addressed properly. I won’t go into detail on that point because I am no expert. But I do want to focus on the similarly important spiritual reality of our anxiety.

First, we need to address the truth that we are not the owners of our future. Disney and countless other sources from pop songs to TV shows have told us this is so. But as anyone who has experienced unexpected tragedy or difficult circumstances knows, what comes in life is often outside of our ability to control. There are situations that take place that are simply beyond our ability to manage such as death, sickness, loss, pain, failure, etc. If we do not understand that life is outside of our hands, we will continue hoping that our efforts will be enough. We will hope that our ability, our understanding, our skills, our effort, or our personality will be enough. And we will never find rest from worry. And thus, we need to understand that we are not the ultimate definers of our future.

The second truth, and the reason why the first truth is such good news to us is because there is someone who does this work for us. In Psalm 16 verse 9 we are told that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Job 12:10 tells us that “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” God, our sovereign Creator and the Sustainer of our lives, is in control of what comes. Over and over scripture makes this crystal clear (see also Proverbs 19:21, Romans 8:28, Psalm 22:28). Now granted, this does not provide for us an easy or quick fix to anxiety. Many attest to understand this truth of God’s sovereignty and I understand that the struggle and the toll that it can take on us is not easily overcome. It can and will be messy. But through Jesus Christ, God beckons us to entrust ourselves entirely to Him by faith, in order that we may find rest from our worry. This is why Christ, who is God of very God, has the authority to tell us “come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28). He calls us to rest in Him who alone can ensure peace for us.

As we find anxiety creeping into our daily lives, may we lead ourselves and others to heed Christ’s beckoning call to cling to and rest in the Father’s sure foundation. May He be where we cast our fears and anxieties, knowing that He cares and is able to deliver us. And though we find moments where we fail by falling into worry, let us remember that we have a God who never does.

This should be the message we readily offer to the broken and hurting world which is worn from attempting to provide the rest it can never assure. More than ever, the world needs this message. May we point our anxious and hurting neighbors, family, children, friends, and ourselves to the steadfast peace which comes from knowing the One in control. For only through faith can we set our eyes upon Christ and “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” (Romans 8:18). It’s only by seeing the surety of Christ that the things which malign and oppress will begin growing “strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace,” (“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”).

Anxiety Promo

 

1.) source: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/09/cover-pressure.aspx

 

The Importance of “That”

Usually when I have the time to leisurely read scripture, I do so with a ballpoint pen and a orange highlighter. There was a point when I realized that actually understanding the scriptures meant learning to actually read the text that lay in front of me. In one of my Bibles I do that by marking it up extensively. Now God reveals truth to us and He’s the one who guides us and teaches us to understand what the scriptures say. But as I began to actually read the text, a whole world of connections began opening my eyes. Words I so often overlooked, such as “therefore,” “so,” “in order that,” “because,” and “for” became the building blocks for seeing the arguments made by the biblical writers.

 
One example stood out this week for me (mainly because of the speaker’s message from camp on the last night) from 1 Peter: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” (1 Peter 2:9). The first portion of this verse reflects what God has done through Jesus Christ. We have been saved from our sin and we have been made a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession. This is glorious truth we should mediate on. These are true because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross. There, our sins are placed on Christ and we are justified, which means we are seen “just-as-if-I’d”-never-sinned or “just-as-if-I’d”-always-obeyed. Christ takes the penalty of our sin so that it is paid in full and there’s no longer debt or penalty against us. That’s what sets us apart. But then comes the next part of the verse which gives us the purpose of why Christ set us apart in the first place. The next word is “that,” or another way to read it is “so that.” It can often give us the purpose or the reason for the idea at hand. So we can ask, why are we set apart, chosen, and made a people for God’s possession? “So that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The reason we are set apart is so that we would proclaim the excellencies that was due to God from the beginning in the Garden. God sovereignly decided to set us wholly apart from the beginning, so that through every part of us He would receive the glory. Our salvation and being set apart is all for the sake of declaring and proclaiming His glory.

The word “that” gives us the very reason for our existence as a people for God’s own possession. May we strive to live out that purpose of proclaiming His excellencies! And may we strive to not miss those important words! We were never saved for the sake of a private, personal, and compartmentalized faith. But rather that we would be a city set on a hill and a light set on a stand.

 
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16

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