Exchange Anxiety for Joy
Joy in God is of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. It more than outweighs all causes for sorrow.[i]
e indulge fears when we ought to place those fears at God’s feet in compliance with the exhortation of Philippians 4:6: “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
It isn’t that we should avoid struggle over the things that cause us worry, but how we struggle matters. If the main portion of our effort is spent in avoidance of fearful thoughts through escapism, then we are in trouble. Crying out to God with a weight of anxiety is an uncomfortable process, but it is a discomfort that ends in peace. By contrast, repression through escapism requires an upward spiraling effort that will eventually fail, and may lead to addictions.
God holds the dynamic entity of time in His hands, sculpting the future even as it hurtles toward us. By the time any given moment reaches us, it has taken God’s desired form so that events the enemy intended for our destruction have been formed into conduits for blessing by God’s great and powerful love. Our Lord’s virtuosity is like that of a master sculptor whose hands move so quickly that the motion is a blur. When circumstances align themselves against us and every prognosis calls for frightening outcomes, we must remember that God’s sculpting hands are in control of the future.
Even when we accept the fact of God’s love, power, omnipotence, and provision, we still somehow manage to turn responsibility for our own deliverance back upon ourselves. It is really amazing how we are still able to think our sins are too much for the Lord; we believe that our continued failures might have power against blessings promised by the Almighty God. And so we turn away from Him, waiting until we can get our acts together before we will accept the joy He offers.
God’s grace is not a contractual agreement; it is a free gift. His grace does not come with a list of stipulations that must be met before we can enjoy the peace He freely gives. Our peace comes through His presence with us. Nothing can rob us of this gift; if we belong to Him, He is with us whether we look at Him or not. We must get past the destructive tendency to close our eyes to His presence until we think we deserve Him. We are covered by His grace. Of course this doesn’t mean we are to give up efforts to move away from sin. We trust there will come a point when our love for Christ is greater than our love for the sin we have cherished for too long. However, we do need to dismiss the thought that “Tomorrow I will turn over a new leaf so that I may have God’s joy and peace,” and open our eyes to the joy and peace that are ours today, as we “…press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”[ii]
Pray: Lord, thank You for loving me, right where I am, and thank You for saving me, just as I am. Let this be enough for me today and every day so that I may walk in joy and thanksgiving to You. Amen.
My times are in your hand…