[NOTE: Throughout the text, you will see bracketed text insertions that begin with “Discussion”. These are suggested discussion questions for small group leaders, who would like to review these topics in an interactive group setting.]
Luckily for us, God has not left us without instructions for dealing with worry and anxiety. The Bible has a simple command about this: Do not be anxious about anything (Php 4:6).
What does “anything” include? Everything! We are commanded not to be anxious about our jobs, viruses, uncertainty, everything! It couldn’t be any clearer than this.
I don’t think this is news to you though. We know the Bible commands us not to be anxious, yet we are. So, what’s the problem and what can be done about it?
What you may not have realized is that the Biblical figures we just read about, were sinning in their state of worry and anxiety. Being anxious is a clear violation of the instructions of the Bible. Not only were Rachel and the Jews in the book of Ester sinning by worrying and being anxious, but an additional sin was at the root of their sin of worry and anxiety
[Discussion: What sins were causing anxiety in Rachel’s and Esther’s situations?]
Rachel’s anxiety was caused by an unfulfilled desire, specifically, the desire to have children. There is nothing wrong in wanting a child, but it’s sinful to be anxious about it. God opens or closes the womb (1. Sam. 1:5).
With Esther and her fellow Jews, it was fear of death and the unknown. Being afraid of death is smart. That fear keeps us alive in many situations, because it makes us careful. Also, wanting a child is a good desire and the Bible says children are a blessing (Ps. 127:5). It’s good to want this blessing.
The problem arises when we make smart and good desires, such as staying alive or wanting a child, into idols that surpass God. After all, do you know better than God if your staying alive or having a child is going to be the best outcome for God’s glory and your eternal benefit? You might think you know better, but you don’t. If you are anxious about something, it means you either doubt God is incapable or unwilling to do what’s optimal.
These are no small things, doubting God, being anxious, and setting your desires as idols above God are grave sins. Furthermore, it’s important to realize the root sin from which all other sins spring forth, is selfishness. Why do we commit the sin of stealing? Because we are selfish. Why do we lie? Because we’d rather lie than suffer from telling the truth. Our sin of selfishness is ultimately the root of all other sin.
I was personally guilty of this the other day as I was getting anxious about a health condition of someone very close to me. But this person loves Jesus! I know she would go to heaven to be with him, even if she were to die. I know she’ll be better off in heaven than here on earth. So, why was I anxious about her health condition? Mostly because of selfish reasons. I was thinking “oh man, I’ll be very sad if this person dies and leaves me.” Sure, I could brainwash myself into thinking that “oh no, you’re just anxious because you care about that person”. But, that’s not true. If this person dies believing in Jesus, do you think she’ll be sad to be with God? That she’ll be thinking “Boy, I wish I still were in that cursed earth, filled with sin!”. Of course not, but I would prefer to drag her back here just so I would be happier. That’s quite selfish.
Before you go to sleep tonight, analyze the causes of your fears and anxieties and repent. Is fear of the unknown is leading you to anxiety? Leave the “worrying” to the God who knows and controls everything (Ps. 68:20). Are you anxious, because you are surrounded by what may appear to be overwhelming circumstances? Stop distrusting God and instead have faith. Stop putting your own personal desires about your life and the lives of others, above God.
However, the coronavirus trial we are all in now is not all bad. It brings Christians an opportunity to analyze our spiritual maturity and goals—what we treasure in life. Can you better evaluate your spiritual maturity when life is going great or during an ordeal? How do you react when things that are important to you, get taken away? Do you get angry? How do you react when your comforts are taken away? Are you bitter or depressed?
Trials reveal your true level of spiritual maturity. Have you been trying to witness to some friends and family about Jesus? How you react during trials speaks ten times louder (1. Joh. 3:18; Jam. 2:17). Simultaneously, during these trials, you will see your weaknesses, after which you can humble yourself before God to request power to overcome and master these weaknesses through the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in you.
When thoughts of worry and anxiety start bombarding your brain, it’s important you remember God’s will for you! Perhaps, you don’t know or remember his will for you, but you don’t have to run around searching. He reveals it clearly in his Word.
[Discussion: What is God’s prime objective in the life of a Christian? Is it for the Christian to have an easy, comfortable life or something else?]
If you don’t know God’s will for you, pay attention as I will reveal it now:
Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Rom 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
God’s will is that you be conformed to the image of his son. If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sins, accepted that Jesus died on the cross to pay the punishment God’s justice demands, then you can’t even outrun this. God says has predestined you to be conformed to the image of his son. How do you think that happens? How do you think you’ll become more like Jesus? By living on “Easy Street”, or through a series of character-building trials and tribulations through which God demonstrates his power and thus builds up your faith and trust in him?
I’m sorry, if nobody’s ever told this to you before, but after you become a Christian, your life will be a series of trials, or rather opportunities, to shape you into becoming more like Jesus. You lose your job, do you trust God or not? You or someone close to you gets a severe illness or even dies. How do you react? Do you trust God’s sovereignty and plans? Remember that nothing can happen in this world without the approval of God, and all that he allows to happen is for the benefit of us believers (Rom. 8:28). You can either believe this, or not believe, and thus accuse God of being a liar. However, let me tell you that he does not like being treated as a liar.
Stay tuned for part 4.
 Even Jesus himself was very clear to his would-be followers, that following him would not be easy. See (Luke 9:57–-62).
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