Angst And Worry


Western culture seems to revolve around angst and worry, to the point that we do everything in our power to deal with it. Except the one thing that is needed.

More and more we are diagnosing teens and preteens with anxiety disorder. We wring our hands because the suicide rate of young people is on the rise. At first this fact was laid at the feet of “homophobia,” but with the spreading acceptance of the LGBTQ lifestyle, that excuse no longer seems accurate.

The fact is, kids worry. Adults worry. Everybody worries. Or tries to escape worry. Drug addiction seems to be unchecked, including prescription drugs given to “calm” these anxious teens down. And no one talks about the use of alcohol, unless it’s coupled with driving or abuse. So an untold number of adults are fleeing their worries inside a bottle. There are even jokes about following a stressful event by finding a potent drink. Because clearly we can’t deal with worry in any other way. We simply must numb it or forget it.

The problem is, when the drugs wear off, when the hangover is all that’s left of the drink, the cause of stress, worry, anxiety remains.

Trouble at work? Chances are, that trouble will still be there in the morning when the “calm” wears off. Relationship problems? Drugs and alcohol don’t see to actually repair relationships. How about financial woes? No, substance abuse definitely doesn’t make money problems better. Probably the opposite is true.

Of course not everyone who feels stressed out or distressed about their marriage or their job or about their wayward kid or health concern runs to some addictive beverage or pharmaceutical. There are other ways of escaping stress. We can live for thrill; we can bury ourselves in entertainment; we can become workaholics. Anything to take our minds off that which causes us to worry.

But none of those things makes the thing behind our worry better. None of them. When we get back from the ski trip, the problems at work will still be there. After we finish bing-watching Lord of the Rings the money problems will be no different. We can go to Disneyland every day, and we won’t change the medical diagnosis of the person we love so much.

In truth, there is only one solution to angst. The Bible gives it to us clearly in 1 Peter 5:7—“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

God wants to take our worry off our hands.

The problem is, we either think He can’t or He won’t fix whatever is troubling us. So we have to do what we can’t trust Him to do.

Part of that thinking is actually right: God might not fix our problems the way we think they should be fixed. Our loved one might not recover from cancer, our wayward child might walk away from us, our church might split, our boss might promote someone else instead of us, our washing machine might need to be replaced, our baby might have Down Syndrome.

But in and through all the hard things of life, God walks with us. He “fixes” our problems in ways we could not imagine before hand. Chances are, the “fixes” are spiritual and occur because of the difficulties. If I had not lost my spouse, I would never have learned to depend on God instead. If I had not had the accident, I would not have had the opportunity to witness to that nurse. If I had not lost my job, I would not have had the courage to start the ministry God has led me into.

Above all, when we do not cast our cares on God, we remain ignorant of how much He cares for us. Oh, sure, we might say, God loves me. I mean, He loves the world, right, so that includes me.

But actually, God’s love is much more personal. If there were no other people on earth, Jesus Christ would have died for my sins. Because His love is not some sort of generic thing that He’ll withdraw if there aren’t enough people involved. Really, He loves me.

His caring for the things we hand over to Him, is one way we can come to understand how personal His love is for us. He’s not too busy or too preoccupied or too overwhelmed to pay attention to the cares and worries I lay at His feet.

The thing that is perhaps the best here is that this caring that I can see so clearly as I give God my problems, creates a relationship that overshadows any of the problems I’ve been so concerned about. The love and peace and comfort and mercy and forgiveness and wisdom and joy that comes from a caring God, dwarfs the stuff that would drag us to the pit of despair.

Why? Because we’ve put the problem in hands more capable than our own. We’ve called in the Good Physician, the omniscient and omnipotent God who “upholds all things by the word of His power.” How can I not trust Him to know what’s best in my circumstance?

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Published in: on January 15, 2019 at 5:33 pm  Comments (6)  
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Anxiety In The New Year


I keep hearing about people starting 2019 filled with anxiety and a sense of woe. I’m not sure where this pessimism is coming from. Maybe it’s the usual depression brought on by winter. Maybe it’s the divisiveness currently in our nation. Maybe it’s the downward spiral some see our moral climate taking. I don’t know for sure.

What I do know is that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

That truth actually isn’t good news for people who reject or ignore God, because He has already demonstrated that when evil reaches a limit, He will act in judgment. He did so with Egypt, with Canaan, with Israel, with Judah. Why would the God who is the same from one era to the next suddenly go soft on sin? He isn’t likely to do that. But we don’t know just how or when His judgment will fall.

So those who are far from God have reason to be somewhat anxious.

But Christians? Not if we are going about doing our Father’s business.

There’s a little known verse in a little read book of prophecy, Nahum 1:7, that I’ve come to love:

The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble.
And He knows those who take refuge in Him.

There’s no false promise in the verse that God will magically take away any and all trouble. Rather, it pretty much promises a day of trouble. But God matches that with a greater promise—He is the stronghold, the fortress, the citadel, the bastion, the fortification. Not for everyone. Well, I’ll qualify that. Yes, He is the stronghold for everyone, but not everyone will trust in Him.

Those who do . . . well, He knows who those are. We can’t fool Him, or pretend we trust Him when we actually are depending on our own strength. He knows. And, as a reminder, He’s the omniscient one. As David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said in Psalm 139,

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

God’s knowledge about each one of us is not limited, so when He says He knows who takes refuge in Him, I believe He does in fact know the real from the pretend, the “in name only” and the “all in’s.” He knows.

I find a lot of comfort in that. I won’t get lost in the shuffle of all the many, many people—those on the front lines, those in the thick of the fight. I might be nothing but a squire, delivering missives from one commander to the line of soldiers on the wall, but God knows I’m in the Stronghold, that I’m there for refuge, that I have no other “safe place” than in His presence.

I find it so ironic that our culture works so hard to keep everyone safe these days, and yet we are as vulnerable as ever. We have laws about seat belts and helmets and strollers and vaccinations and plastic bags and straws and abuse and fraud and border security and on and on, but we still face danger to our health, danger from nature, danger from individuals, danger from other nations. Perhaps most surprising is that we have become aware of danger from ideas. But instead pf arming ourselves for battle, instead of running to the Stronghold, we are drawing little circles around ourselves and declaring them safe zones. Reminds me of children playing tag but with a safe zone where they couldn’t be tagged. I mean, could they live there? Of course not. So they either had to leave the safe place or quit the game.

The cool thing is, we absolutely CAN live, or as Jesus says, abide, in our Stronghold. In fact we’re commanded to do so:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

Abiding as a branch sounds even more permanent than taking refuge in a stronghold, except when you think about cities under siege. Staying inside the secure walls was paramount, just like a branch staying attached to a vine. So the images are really the same.

The point is, those without the vine, without the Stronghold, may very well be anxious, and may even be rightly anxious.

Sort of like when the 12 spies of Israel checked out the Promised Land. They reported back that there were giants in the land. Real giants. They had reason to believe that they couldn’t take down the giants—as long as they thought they were to do so alone. But they weren’t. Ever. God Had freed them from slavery and had preserved and protected them on their way. Why would they think in the day of trouble, He would abandon them? That was their great mistake.

What a difference if we take refuge in Him instead.

Peace For The Duration


ambulance-206474-mGod is our peace, and yet there are lots of things in this life that are not peace-inducing. Monday night an ambulance pulled up in front of my neighbor’s house. In due time (after the EMTs arrived and the required fire truck), the attendants wheeled out the daughter on a gurney. The family has been back and forth to the hospital ever since and still don’t know what’s causing her intestinal condition.

Peace? I don’t imagine so.

My dear uncle who has been in and out of the hospital this past year and has been on dialysis, decided to end that treatment. He’s home now and under hospice care.

Peace? It’s hard to think of life without him. Much harder for his children than for me, I’m sure.

And what about the person who lost his job this week or the college girl who’s boyfriend broke up with her? What about the family separated because one of the parents is in the military?

What does peace mean for these folks?

The fact is, nothing changes even though the circumstances change. God is still sovereign and good and can be trusted. He spells it out for us in His world:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)

The important thing to note here is that God does not promise to give us whatever it is we make supplication for. What He promises is His peace.

Our prayers are really a way of turning our problems over to God and saying, There, I’m done trying to solve this. It’s your baby now.

And that’s actually what God wants. He wants to take care of us—to shepherd us. That’s what Psalm 23 is all about. He wants to lead us, provide for us, guide us, comfort us, rejoice with us and over us.

Of course, our expectation is that with God in charge our way will be smooth. But God has so much more in mind than our temporal condition. He has so much more for us than new toys. His desire is for us to become like His Son, which means we have to have rough places sanded off so we’ll conform to His image. Or we might have knobby places chiseled away or dents pounded out, nails pulled or a pin inserted. We may have to be melted down and the dross skimmed from our lives.

This “in His image” stuff isn’t a bed of roses, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. But as odd as it sounds, it’s the way of peace.

Paul said, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

So we can lay aside our anxiety resulting in the peace of God which surpasses comprehension, and we can act in obedience to the word of God resulting in the God of peace being with us. Two very practical ways we can be sure we have peace for the duration.

Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm  Comments Off on Peace For The Duration  
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Fear and the Christian Writer


I’ve mentioned Pastor Alistair Begg enough that regular visitors here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction may realized I listen to him on the radio most mornings.

Interestingly his broadcast ministry, Truth for Life, has begun airing a series of sermons on the topic of anxiety. I say “interestingly” because a friend of mine has been posting about panic attacks. Soon after her latest, Mike Morrell—whose article “Is God a Recovering Practitioner of Violence?” was the catalyst for my post (and the ensuing pages of comments) “Attacks on God from Within” (followed by two related posts “The Emerging Heresy” and “Attacks against God from Within, Part 2”)—also posted on his own experience of severe anxiety.

All that to say, the topic of fear/worry has been on my mind, and I can’t help but apply it to the writing world since that’s where I live.

I think we writers are a fearful bunch on the whole. Those who aren’t in the profession might be surprised at all we can find to worry about. Here are some I’m aware of.

  • The ability to finish a project
  • Writing a query/proposal that will grab someone’s attention
  • Rejection by a preferred agent
  • Rejection by a publisher (any publisher)
  • Finding someone to endorse the book
  • Receiving editing letters
  • Making changes
  • Meeting deadlines
  • A bad cover
  • Bad reviews
  • Poor sales
  • Not earning out (writer-speak for not making as much money for the publisher as they had expected—it makes getting another contract dicey)
  • Book signings
  • Setting up a Web site
  • Time management
  • Blogging
  • Not blogging
  • Speaking
  • Not speaking
  • Book tours
  • No book tours
  • Radio interviews
  • No radio interviews
  • A new book idea
  • Another contract
  • Failure
  • Success

Throw in an economy that still has buyers proceeding with caution and the digital revolution that will profoundly affect the book business, and writers have good cause to fear.

Or do we?

I think about the people of Israel making a break for freedom, fleeing from Pharaoh and his army straight for the Red Sea. Yes, their lives had been hard, but were things getting any better? They were going into the unknown and to get there had to escape the pursuit of a fully equipped army, then survive the wilderness. Oh, yeah, on the other side awaited giants they’d need to fight.

No wonder Moses addressed the subject of fear with some frequency in Deuteronomy. Here’s a sample:

Then I said to you, ‘Do not be shocked, nor fear them. The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes,’
– Deut 1:29-30

“You shall not dread them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.”
– Deut 7:21

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
– Deut 31:6

Has God changed since those days? Will He fail me or forsake me? Perhaps He’s no longer great and awesome. 🙄

Writing may seem like a wilderness most days, and the unknown might to be the only constant. But maybe anxiety-producing circumstances are a good thing.

The more I feel unable to manage, the more I realize how much I need God.

Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 4:13 pm  Comments (9)  
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