Fighting Anxiety with Faith in Future Grace
Most of what makes me anxious on a day-to-day basis doesn’t make its way onto the blog. I know how tempting it is to read one woman’s blog and think that she has it all together. I do that with several of my favorite bloggers. So, lest you think that I “have it together” or that I’m not the anxious type, I want you to know that 2008 has been a banner year for me in the fight against anxiety. I’ve been anxious over issues with our house (remember the pipe replacement?), the health of people I love, and my country appears to be destroying itself. Those kinds of things make me anxious. When I get anxious and feel out of control, I fret over all the what-ifs and/or open the door to other sins in my efforts to stave off anxiety.
As Piper points out in Chapter 3,
Anxiety is a condition of the heart that gives rise to many other sinful states of mind. Think for a moment how many different sinful actions and attitudes come from anxiety. Anxiety about finances can give rise to coveting and greed and hoarding and stealing. Anxiety about succeeding at some task can make you irritable and abrupt and surly. Anxiety about relationships can make you withdrawn and indifferent and uncaring about other people. Anxiety about how someone will respond to you can make you cover over the truth and lie about things. So if anxiety could be conquered, a mortal blow would be struck to many other sins.
How do we strike a mortal blow to anxiety? We fill our minds with God’s promises of His future grace and we rely on His Spirit to strengthen and grow our faith. God’s Spirit is constantly reminding my heart and mind of God’s Word. It is a real battle against unbelief. The last couple of pages of this chapter are filled with scriptures to put in our arsenal as we fight against anxiety. I’m just going to list them below, not because I think you need to read them, though you may, but because it will do me good to read and type them.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
1 Peter 5:7
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
As your days, so shall your strength be.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
2 Corinthians 12:9
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.“
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Piper ends the chapter with this encouragement: “Take up the Bible, ask the Holy Spirit for help, lay the promises up in your heart, and fight the good fight — to live by faith in future grace.”
And try not to feel anxious about fighting anxiety. That would be silly.
Visit Discerning Reader for Mark’s explanation of whether or not Jesus’ saying, “Do not be anxious,” ranks as one of his commands.