We know that anxiety isn’t good for our faith. We aren’t moving mountains…we are barely able to function. We aren’t facing hardship with faith and peace, we are hiding in our houses and touching lightposts.
These are not the fruits of faith.
The first way anxiety weakens our faith is through the fact that we are away from the Lord. If we spent as much time in true, loving, peaceful communion with Jesus as we do dwelling and fretting on our troubles, we would be mighty and powerful in the Lord. We would be able to move mountains.
Right now just think of all the time you spend every day fretting about your fear. Think about the minutes, the hours, the days, the years that you have spent dwelling, obeying, avoiding your fear. Now imagine if that time had been spent worshiping and truly praising the Lord. Do you have any idea how joyful you would be? Do you realize how much peace you would have, even if bad things happened? You would see the Lord moving in your life in mighty ways, subtle ways, delightful ways, miraculous ways! You would spend every day in wonder at His mercy and provision. You would have communion with the Lord….if only you spent as much time on Him as you do on your fear.
I had no idea what awaited me when the Lord forced me out of my comfort zones. I pictured being tested repeatedly with things that frightened me. I pictured being ill, being scared, being sorrowed. But the Lord was kind and merciful.
I pictured fear, He built my faith!
I pictured being scared, but instead I was saved from fear!
I pictured being sorrowed, but was blessed beyond measure.
I expected fear. I got freedom.
This same freedom is there for YOU!
I am not special. I am not better or more holy. I am just a regular person with a mortgage and a cat and a penchant for coming up with silly jingles throughout my day. I brush my teeth, forget to floss, and enjoy a few computer games. I love my spouse, lose my temper, hug the kids, burn the cooking. The Lord does not play favorites, and this same experience of freedom is for you, too.
Galatians 3:26 – You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (NIV)
However, that freedom only comes with faith. It comes with trust in the Lord. You have to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. You cannot do that if you are spending all your day obsessing about your fears. If your focus is on your fear, it is not on the Lord.
Another way that anxiety weakens our faith is because we cannot see the blessings of the Lord if we are looking through a fear lens. Say the Lord did intend to bless you today. What if He said “Today I will bless My child with a chance encounter with someone who will provide them with the perfect job (or the name of the right doctor or a free ticket to a concert, or a meeting with a long lost friend, or winning a contest, or a year’s supply of toothpaste…whatever would be a blessing to you).”.
But the blessing was going to take place in a situation that, right now, scares you. You won’t go, so you will miss the blessing. The Lord is not going to have some stranger break into your house and say “I am doing this to give you a lifetime supply of chocolate from the Lord.”!
Now, say instead that you did go out, and you did meet the someone and you were blessed….until you started overthinking it. Perhaps you might say “Well, that concert is at night and I hate to drive at night. What if I get into a wreck?”. Or “I don’t think that friend really missed me as much as I missed her. What if she doesn’t like me?”. Or “Yeah, that job sounds great, but what if I go and get fired in six months….?”.
Your anxiety will have robbed you of blessing! Blessing is one thing that brings us closer to the Lord—when we see how miraculously He moves in our lives, we start to understand that He is with us, everyday, every moment.
However, if we don’t allow Him to bless us, if we keep ourselves locked up in our rooms, then we can’t see Him move in our lives. Our faith never gets watered with the blessings He wants to shower us with every day.
But let’s take this one step further, and one step closer to home….
Look right now at the blessings He gave you today. Do you have a place to sleep? Kids? Friends? A pet? Do you have food? Family? Are you warm?
Let’s take food, since that was my big issue. I always had plenty of food. The Lord blessed me with not having to endure starvation. He provided bounty for me. BUT I DIDN’T PRAISE HIM FOR IT BECAUSE I WAS AFRAID TO EAT IT. I was afraid of the food (what if it’s bad?). I was afraid of the dishes I ate the food off of (what if they aren’t clean?). I was so nervous all the time that my digestion was off.
Now, that weakens our faith because even when we are given things that would make our faith strong, we don’t accept them as gifts from the Lord, but rather possible pitfalls and burdens. I didn’t truly thank the Lord for His blessing of food (oh I might have said a quick “grace”, but I wasn’t truly thankful, just checking a box). I didn’t recognize that He was blessing me. I begged Him not to let it make me sick, then didn’t eat it anyway (or ate it with fear and trepidation). I didn’t praise Him for His gift to me, I told Him I thought it might be bad. My faith never had a chance, because I treated every gift He gave me like a snake that might bite.
It is important for you and me to understand this. Faith and anxiety cannot exist together. You have one or the other, but not both. Your unwell, anxious, or depressed mind will not let your spirit grow. Your conscious mind, that part of your mind that you do have control over, keeps you in bondage with bad thoughts and fear reactions. Like Pavlov’s dog, instead of salivating at a bell, you have trained your mind to fear even blessing.
Our anxiety weakens our faith. We don’t praise God for His blessings, we fear His blessings. That causes separation, not faith.
We can fix this! We can change this! Understand that the Lord is not mean or cruel or wanton. He will bless you and the blessings will be mighty for you! He does not offer you blessing and give you a snake instead.
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (NIV)
I know, bad things happen. Not everything is going to work out the way we want it, and sometimes we will feel pain. However, the Lord promised to work everything out for the good of those who love Him. So even the most excruciating event will be able to be worked for our good. Our faith will be strengthened when we look past the pain in eager anticipation of the glory of God working in our lives. This is a hard teaching. It is a difficult one. However, it yields much peace and joy for those who learn it.
What helps me is to keep telling myself that He will work everything, even bad things, out for my good. It also helps me to remember that the things of earth are brief and momentary—my home is with Him. Sometimes it helps for me to remember that this life is so brief, and that even when I lose loved ones—dreadful pain—that it is more like they went on a journey that I will make soon as well. If we can keep our lives in context of eternity, it helps us to move past our troubles here and to look forward to the Lord’s mercy and fruit in our lives here.