Let Our Anxiety Point Us to Christ
I always struggle to start writing these blog posts, so this time, for inspiration, I looked back at my last post, published about 6 months ago. It was about life decisions and resting in God as we share the gospel as ministers of reconciliation. I realized that little has changed for our family over the last 6 months regarding big life decisions and transition. I need the same encouragement now that I needed then: to rest in the Lord for my continued sanctification and satisfaction in the glory of Christ.
We are still in a stage of waiting as we strive for obedience to the great commission, sharing the gospel of Christ with the unconvinced in OKC. I have been asked countless times these last 6 months what I’m planning to do if we successfully sell our business, and it has been weird not having an answer. But it has caused me to wrestle with trusting the Lord in a season of uncertainty and waiting. Also, as Crosstown has talked a lot about faith while working through Hebrews, it has been challenging to evaluate what it is I’m putting my faith and trust in.
While I’ve mostly been at peace with the uncertainty, there have been moments of anxiety through which I've been consistently reminded of God’s goodness. These moments reveal my failure to believe in the gospel of Christ; I’m putting my faith in myself and the shifting circumstances of this world. If God is a good father, I don’t need to look elsewhere for provision or satisfaction. He provides what I need regardless of the material or physical circumstances because I’ve already been given everything through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m trying to grasp the Christ-exalting attitude that Paul describes in Phil. 4:11-12, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” It is easy to think that I am content in Christ in times of abundance, but I wonder if I know what it means to be content in Christ during times of need.
I have faced little hunger and physical need during my life, which is a blessing from God. But how can I know where my satisfaction comes from on a daily basis if I can’t be content in challenging or unsure circumstances? In whom do I really trust during the times of abundance? We live in a time and place with unprecedented personal freedom, access to opportunities for success, and material prosperity. Under these circumstances, it is tempting to think we can garner our own success and satisfaction through hard work or ingenuity. We might even assume there is little reason for anxiety about life. However, we live in a culture that is riddled with anxiety because of all the unrealistic expectations levied by entertainment and social media. These mediums breed comparison, which destroys our self-image unless rooted in the truth of the gospel.
I have always been a performance-driven person. In high school, I had anxiety about my performance in school even though I was a successful student and had the unconditional love and support of my parents. Fortunately, social media was a novelty at the end of high school, and it has never been a significant part of my life. Still, I was able to generate enough anxiety on my own, which led to some unhealthy habits. I tried to find my identity in my success as a student rather than my full acceptance as an heir of the kingdom of God.
Through the Holy Spirit, God has graciously freed me from much of this anxiety and helped me find my true identity as a follower of Christ. Anxieties about my circumstances still arise from time to time, but the Spirit uses this anxiety as a signpost to remind me that I’m not trusting God for my contentment and satisfaction. There may be healthy concerns about the future or a need for prudent planning; this doesn’t mean that we don’t give our best effort in all that we do, as clearly demonstrated by Col. 3:23: “Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men…you are serving the Lord.” However, it does mean that we need to let the Holy Spirit evaluate our motivations and submit them to the Lord in humility. Are we striving anxiously for our own temporary kingdoms here on Earth, or are we humbly serving the everlasting kingdom of the Lord our God?
“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.” (Matt. 6:33-34) This passage makes it abundantly clear that God will provide for our most basic needs. Seeking our own kingdoms will continually lead to anxiety, and no amount of success will ever satisfy. The gospel is the cure to the anxiety that surrounds us. The gospel says we are created beings made in God’s image and are valuable to God no matter how we compare to others. We are all sinners, separated from God; he sees us all on a level playing field. We are not worthy of his grace, but while we were still sinners, God gave us the gift of Jesus Christ on the cross. He has paid the penalty for our sin and allowed us to be restored to a right relationship with God. If God can provide such an unfathomable gift as this, consider how much more is he able to provide for our most basic needs! He is worthy of our praise and trust, melting away our anxieties, as we seek to see his kingdom come here on Earth as it is in heaven.