Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What If...? A short discourse on anxiety for the Old Geezer

Today’s post is in response to Brother Ron’s email comment to me yesterday afternoon. His post on his site, The Old Geezer Blog was about being a worry wart. When I read that I thought, really?, he is just baiting me to preach. What a topic, I could have wound up and run on for hours. So, I left a one line comment that said, “Ron, are you trying to make me preach?”

Well, he emailed me and here is what he said:

Brother Gregg, on top of being an excellent expositor of God's word, I think you have the gift of mind reading.

After I posted my "Worry Wart" blog I said to my wife, "I can't wait to read my friend Gregg's comment. I'll bet he gives a sermon about Thou Shalt Not Worry". I was actually looking forward to it. I seem to be receptive to almost everything you write on my blog and so do most of my readers. If you have the time a short sermon on worry would be more than welcome. :-)


My email was response was:

Ron - you are too much! That was a wonderful email, and I am still laughing. I saw a chance here when I read your post and then I thought no, he is just baiting me. It was too easy, and my mother used to say, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is." So I passed! Then you email me with an open invitation?

So, here are a few thoughts on the topic of being a worry wart and being someone who gives into worry, anxiety, fear, and unbelief.

I realize that all of us, believers in particular are human. Worry is an avenue available to all of us, yet it is one that we do not need to utilize. 

I didn't realize this until very late in my Christian life but worry is equal to pride and unbelief. This is why I think it is so serious and why God treats it so seriously.

What do we need to know?

First, God is absolutely sovereign. He acts sovereignly in accordance with every other attribute that He possess, including perfect wisdom, perfect love, perfect compassion, and etc. God sovereignly directs every event in our life by either direct or indirect purpose.

Read Genesis 50:20 carefully. Joseph’s brothers meant selling him into slavery as an evil thing, yet God meant it for good in His eternal purpose. God used the hatred in Joseph's brothers’ heart to cause them to sell Joseph in order to place him in Egypt in order to eventually be exalted to the 2nd highest position in the land in order to save his family.

Grumbling, complaining, and worry puts ourselves equal to God and says, "in my human wisdom, I have decreed one or all of four things":

I don't like your plan God

I don't think you utilized the best wisdom for me in this plan

I deserve better than what you seem to have decreed for me

I don't trust you to fulfill your words or promises even though you are God and have never lied, broken a promise, proven yourself to be unwise, unkind, unloving, or unsympathetic.

That is why when the people complained in Numbers 11 the LORD sent fire and killed a good number of them. God hates complaining, the NT tells us to do all things without murmuring and complaining. Worry is the child of murmuring and complaining. Read what God did and how he responded in Exodus and Numbers when the children of Israel worried and was full of anxiety that spilled out as murmuring and complaining.

As your (The Old Geezer’s) other commenters have already mentioned, we are told in Philippians not to worry about anything, but we are to pray and share our hearts with God. What happens? He gives us peace, freedom from worry.

We worry, first because it is a normal human reaction, and second, because we have not trained ourselves through discipline to not react normally, and third, we worry because we do not see it as the sin that it is - it is sin against God. 

Have I gotten to where I don't worry? No! But, when fear, worry, concern, or anxiety rears its ugly head, I have trained myself to run to God, share with him that I am worried, why I am worried, confess it as sin, and pray for my needs or what I am "worried" about and linger with God until that peace that He promised floods my soul.

God is true or He is not true, His word is true or it is not, He can be trusted or He can't, He is wise or He isn't, He is caring, or He isn't - this is what it boils down to.

The opposite of trusting God is anxiety or frustration. Jesus taught on anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34, where He used the word anxious six times. We are not to be anxious about what we are to wear, eat, and drink or about the unknown circumstances of tomorrow. Jesus tells us not to fear or be afraid. Look at what Peter said in I Peter 5:7 "Cast your care or anxieties on Him."  Christians should be “casting care” not “taking care.”

The biggest reason Christians fear, worry, or are anxious, is this: they don't like God's plan for their life. They believe they deserve better. They don't like how it is going. We are unwilling to accept God's agenda because we have our agenda.

“I should get that job, I should be liked by so and so, I should have gotten that raise, I should have that house, I shouldn't be sick. I should have her and on and on and on and on.”

We can sure excuse our worry and anxiety can't we? We can rationalize and justify it to where we think even God should be apologizing to us for letting us down.

So, until you come to understand and accept God as absolutely sovereign and in charge of every detail of your life - go ahead and worry.

Until you meditate deeply on His glorious, majestic, and magnificent character until you see how wise, loving, kind, generous, giving, gentle and perfect he is - go ahead and worry.

Until you make prayer your refuge without ceasing always sharing your heart and concerns with him in submissive agreement - go ahead and worry.

Until you come to that point where you are convinced (I forget who said this so I can't give credit here to whom credit is due) that God is God and that you are not - go ahead and worry.

All tongue in cheek, but trust God, for He is worthy - He will never let you down. He has promised to stick closer than a brother, He has promised to never to abandon or forsake you, He has promised to take you up even when mother or father or friends abandon you, He has stated in Romans that if He did not hold back His only Son but gave him on your behalf, He will not withhold anything that He knows we need.

By the way Ron, now you have me "worried", what do you mean you are receptive to almost everything I write? Just kidding!!

Love ya brother, and remember you asked for it.


Eddie Eddings said...

A sermon we all need to hear...and often.

Solid Rock or Sinking Sand said...

Amen. I know I needed to hear this. Sometimes we loose sight of the fact that our Almighty God is ALWAYS in control. God bless, Lloyd

IanH said...

I used to be a worry wart, until I became a christian and realized who is in control. Now it goes something like this" Don't worry, God is in control. If something is bothering you and you can fix it, then fix it. If it can't be fixed, give it to God. He can fix anything. Having done the above, stop whinning! No Pity Parties allowed"

LibbyLibbyLibbyLibbyLibby said...

I've always loved the history of Joseph and his brothers. Its always fascinated me because even though at times I have chewed on the thoughts of his brothers being jealous and selling him, the fact that God used it for good... I have thought about maybe sometimes things that happen aren't necessarily God's will... do you know what I mean??? I know its a big debate because if we say something might not be His will we are then questioning His sovereignty but the Bible does seem full of things people do that made God regret even forming us... He regretted.... so that would tell me He allows freedom in our actions and therefore things happen and I often think there are just certain spiritual laws that also effect the evil kingdom... they have certain 'rights' allowed here on earth when certain boundaries are crossed that are going to be outside God's will.... because His will is that none perish but yet people do everyday perish without Him... okay so this has nothing to do about worry does it... I'm piggy backing on other comments. :) In my thought process I do believe when I commit everything to God and go about my day and take all cares and such to Him that I'm going to be cared for and everything will reflect God's care but I'm still subjected ultimately to this world and things are going to hit me because of it that I guess I feel may not always be what God would want for me... such as when I am out jogging on trails by myself and I take a wrong turn and a wrong person is there and I'm at the wrong place at the wrong time... I am a child of God, I am under His protection but I'm also in the wrong place at the wrong time and two things can happen...supernatural protection or the unfortunate laws of life that somehow I managed to not heed a warning or just innocently jogged into a danger zone etc... need I worry about that... I think probably I should spend a moment of worry as it would probably most definitely propel me into prayer. :-)


Well Gregg a super sermon and one we ought to heed to, I do worry mostly about health isuues but am more confident now than I was way back.

Loved the post,

Persis said...

Preach it, brother! Thank you for exposing worry for what it is - sin.

kc bob said...

Generally I found that I did not worry that much in my early life.. I was pretty resilient and even when my wife went blind when I was 22 I do not remember worrying that much.. I do remember crying though.

As life goes on though we do see a lot of bad stuff happening.. bad stuff happens to us.. my wife died when she was 43.. other bad stuff followed.. my kids acted out as they grieved her loss with all sorts of bad behaviors.. I was diagnosed with a rare blood disease that caused disability in my joints.. my second wife got real sick and is now in a wheelchair.

So when I think about the future I sometimes wonder what God will allow to afflict me.. not sure that it is worry.. but I do ponder the future.. always a problem when our brains are engaged. But when I engage my innermost being I find that I have hope.. not that bad stuff will not happen to me.. but that God will be with me if it does. And IMO that makes all of the difference.

Jesus said that we would have trials.. He also promised to be there when we do.. a message from His heart to ours.. now if I could just disengage my brain :)

Gregg Metcalf said...

Eddie Eddings - thanks! I at least need to hear this and hear this often. Stay tuned.

Lloyd - thank you. We do loose sight of the fact that God is always in control and always does the right thing.

IanH - it took we along time to learn even what the sovereignty or control of God was. It has taken even longer to submit to it. I do like your axiom though, if you can't fix it, give it to God to fix! No whinning - there's a five-dollar fine for whinning!

LLLLL - thank you for your transparency. Thank you for your wonderful comment. It has inspired me to write all afternoon my thoughts on what you have said. For the next ten or twelve days I am going to write my thoughts in response to your single comment. I hope you stay tune. I am not directing anything towards you at all. You brought up a number of points and I want to share God's word concerning those points.

Yvonne - thank you for your compliment. I am glad you are more confident. Let me suggest you do, if you haven't already, a little internet study on an American Civil War General known as Stonewall Jackson. He came to the conclusion and made an excellent speech on why he seemed to be so fearless in battle - he said in essence, God has ordained the day and means of my death, I am as safe in bed or on this battle field until that moment, I shall not concern myself with it. That is a loose paraphrase to say, we as humans have the tendency to worry about our health, but God has ordained the moment and the means of our death and we will not die one minute early or late. Sometimes our worry is on the process, I for one don't like the process.

PM - thanks so very much. You are most welcome. Stay tuned, the next 10 or 12 days will be a wild ride.

KB - God has been good to you I see as he has entrusted you with the various trials you have been privileged to endure to be made more like Him. yes, I sometimes wonder why my brain is in backwards - it engages when it shouldn't and disengages when it shouldn't. God bless brother. WE have a hope that most men do not have. You are a blessing brother!

Anonymous said...

Brother Gregg

Remember when we first connected in cyberspace and we started corresponding by email about some Biblical questions? I remember one question I asked you was, "do you think it is God's sovereign will that we met on the internet? And your answer was, "absolutely!" I don't know how long this cyber-friendship is going to last, but as far as I'm concerned it's been one of my high points since I started blogging.

Brother Ron

Scott said...

As a faithless worrier, I need to hear this sermon often. Thanks. My anxiety is not that God isn't in control, it's just that I know suffering is a part of His plan; He's never promised to keep us from it, just keep us while in it. I worry about my ability to stand because I know what a faithless slob I can be. I know, just rationalizing it. Anyway, keep up the preaching, brother. It's right on target.

kc bob said...

@Scott Weldon - That was a great comment! When I think about trials and grace I always remember how Corrie ten Boom said that grace is like a ticket for a train - you don't need it until you get on the train.. and in the case of grace God will give it when you need it.