Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are you sure that's not just a strong suggestion?

(Why are you so afraid? Part 4)

Our original question was what can we do in times of fear? When situations run way past what we can handle? When we feel like our disciples felt, like we're drowning? And what happens when, even worse, it feels like Jesus is asleep? Seeming not to care that we are perishing?

The first answer to our question was to see that fear is not wrong. It's just usually misplaced. We are not to fear the storms, not to fear what life, people, money might do. We are instead to fear God and to serve Him only. And when we doubt that He even cares? We're to look to the cross where for once and for all God proved the depth He was willing to go to get us to Him. To give us all other good things? That's nothing. We got the treasure.

Then there's the understanding that fear is all based in the future. It's questioning whether God is really steadfast and faithful in His love and care for us. Sure His grace is sufficient for me now, but will it be if ______ happens? If he hurts me...if she dies...if the money's not there...if they really go...if the test is positive...if we say yes...if they say no... It's then that we must continually turn to His Word to see God. We must see Him clearly so that we can follow Him without fear. The verse that should help us (If God is for us who can be against us? Romans 8:31) is only helpful if we really see Him clearly. Otherwise, He looks weak, distant, uncaring, absent...asleep.

There's one thing that we must keep in mind in order to battle against fear. It's been implied throughout these postings, but I usually need things completely spelled out for me. So, here's the bottom line:

Fear God alone. All other fear is sin.

Those calls for us to "fear not"? Not suggestions for living a more peaceful life...not just ways for us to be happier...and certainly not ideas to be brushed off as if I can see so much better than God can and have a better grasp on this situation.

There is a book I read and have been going back to again and again as I struggle. (So, yeah. It's well worn.) It's called Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. If the guy had a website, I'd have a link for you to the right. God has gifted him to us to penetrate both hard questions and hard hearts. In chapter eight, "Anxiety and Frustration", he points out that worry, fear, anxiety are sins for two reasons: Fear is a distrust of God and also shows a lack of acceptance of God's providence in our lives. We've talked about the first one. The second is rooted in our looking more to the immediate causes of situations in our lives rather than remembering that all of those immediate causes are under the sovereign hand of God.

But it's his pointed words in the final paragraph of that chapter that I want to leave you with as you continue to fight the good fight of faith. Listen closely and test your heart to see where, like me, you have been making peace with your fear rather than seeing it as an offense to our Holy God.
Let me repeat, however, what I have said or implied throughout this chapter. Both anxiety and frustration are sins. They are not to be taken lightly or brushed off as common reactions we have to difficult events in a fallen world. Can you picture Jesus ever being anxious or frustrated? And whatever in our lives is not like Jesus is sin. Granted, we will never achieve complete freedom from anxiety or frustration in this life (at least I don't expect to). But we should never accept them as just part of our temperament any more than we would accept adultery as part of our temperament. Keep in mind that even though anxiety and frustration may not [seem] as serious as adultery, they are still sins. And all sin is serious in the eyes of a Holy God. (emphasis mine)


eileen said...

Bless you for writing this one! I went to Big Mama's every summer; we always slept together & she would ask me 'which story do you want to hear tonight'. Most of the time it was about her wedding or about her being Baptist & Big Daddy being First Christian & them always going to their own churches.. Those memories are so precious!

eileen said...

Now you know how new I am at this; suppose to go with the one you did today!! Too funny!
Love you!

Kim said...

Now just open a word document and start typing all those stories! Please! I don't think I know any of them.

eileen said...