I feel a bit of a hypocrite blogging so often on trust when it’s something I so often struggle with, but it’s helpful to write about it, and hopefully it can help you, too. So here are some more thoughts for the Christian who is struggling with fear and anxiety…
(As children of God through Jesus, Christians are so secure in God’s love. If you are not trusting in Jesus as Saviour and Lord yet, you are so welcome to read this post, but I need to tell you that you do have something you need to worry about- your eternal future. But God will change that as soon as you put your faith in Jesus as Saviour and surrender to Him as your Lord. He cares for you so deeply, and longs for you to come to Him… and then you will experience all the blessings of His loving care for you, too).
Do you live in a cage of fear, afraid? When you remember the love in your Father’s eyes, love deeper and stronger and wiser and more tender than you could ever begin to conceive, the fear will fall away. As you learn to trust His heart, the fear will begin to lose its power over you.
I have often felt afraid. Fear has been a normal part of everyday life for me. But sometimes I remember to meditate on the Word of God… remember to think about how protected I am. And sometimes, in that place, fear begins to fall away.
The reason that we don’t need to be anxious about the future is that our Heavenly Father loves us. Really loves us. He cares so much. No detail is too small for His tender concern. No situation is unknown to Him. He loves and He cares, and that is why we can be sure that we have nothing to be afraid of. He has promised never to fail us, and He never will. He will never break His promises to us. He is God, and He never breaks His word. And… He loves us! His love will never change.
‘”For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.’ Isaiah 54:10
Your anxiety about the future begins to fall away when you realise that there are the strong arms of your Father around you, holding you secure. You are no longer so afraid when you realise that your Father is strong and able and will always protect you and provide for you. You’re not alone anymore, and there is Someone so strong and faithful, so tender and yet so powerful, Who has promised to protect, cherish and provide for you. The present is no longer threatening, because you know you are safe and secure. And the future loses its fear, because you know you are not alone. Again and again, the Lord tells us in His word, that He is with me, and not to be afraid of dismayed. Why? The world is big and scary and anything could happen. But He is with me. When we realise Who He is, that is all the comfort we need!
‘”Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”‘
God’s grace is not given in advance- you only get it as you need it. But you never need to be afraid that it won’t be given. Your Father’s tender, yearning, oh-so-strong love is the certain assurance that He will always give you what you need. It is your Father’s job to provide for you, and He delights to do so! So you have no need to be anxious!
‘”Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.“‘ Isaiah 46:3-4
Does He want His precious, forgiven child to live afraid and burdened down, always clouded by worry and fear about what might happen? Of course not! He is good and wise and loving big and generous and powerful and in control, and He would have His children rejoicing and at peace, trusting in His tender Father heart! Have a look at the Psalms and see how many verses you can find exhorting you to rejoice! This is the full life: the life of rejoicing in the Lord always (Philippians 4), anxious about nothing but giving thanks and bringing every concern to Him, and trusting Him to meet every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
There is a condition to all of this. The way of peace, joy and blessing is the way of total surrender: the way of taking up the cross and following Jesus with all of your heart. It’s the way of seeking to lay down your life and live out the call of Christ in every decision, little and big. It’s not the way of perfection: none of us will ever live perfectly whilst we are on this earth, and we all need God’s grace! We are sinners who need a Saviour! But it is the way of seeking to live fully in the light that we have, and giving Him our hearts. You cannot live in willful disobedience and know His peace. But what kind of attitude do you think a tender, loving, providing Father wants His children to have towards life? Anxiety? Fear? Gloom? Dread?
‘Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!’ Philippians 4:4
One of my favourite books is “Pollyanna”, by Eleanor H. Porter. It’s a beautiful story about a little girl whose dad was a pastor. Pollyanna and her dad lived a hard life. They were very poor, and often had to go without. But the Lord was encouraging Pollyanna’s father with how many times the Bible tells us to rejoice. And so Pollyanna’s father invented the “Glad Game”- in which the game is to find a reason to rejoice, no matter what is happening. After her father’s death, Pollyanna continues to play the game, and teaches it to many others, who find their lives transformed with sheer, simple, beautiful joy.
Porter, E. (1994). Pollyanna. ed. Ware: Wordsworth Editions Ltd.
It’s a beautiful story, and it’s so helpful, too- a remember to find a reason to rejoice, because He is always good. I don’t mean to trivialise it- sometimes it’s hard to rejoice. But it’s a helpful game to play, and even the smallest things (such a beautiful flower, the smile of a friend or a glimpse of sunshine) are all from Him.
He longs for us to know His peace; His presence; the tender, sweet release of simply being still and knowing that He is God.
God is the God of the detail, and He doesn’t make mistakes. He works everything together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), conforming us into the image of His Son. Nothing is wasted. He is using it all for good, whether we see it or not. It’s like the illustration someone told me of a tapestry: from the back, it looks like a mess, but, from the front, it will one day look beautiful!
In the book of Daniel, God tells Daniel through an angel that his prayers have been heard because he is greatly loved. What a wonderful reality! He is loved. No matter what happens in life, that assurance can give you strength!
I remember once when I was feeling afraid. I was looking at things that were happening in the news, afraid of what the future will bring. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be afraid, but I couldn’t work out how to stop the fear that was knotting me up upside. I was flicking through my Bible, trying to find peace, and I stumbled upon those words to Daniel.
Daniel lived in crazy times. God’s people were in exile in Babylon because of their rebellion. Daniel was living in a pagan land, where everything was opposed to God’s way of doing things. And God was speaking to him about the world’s future: about future kings and empires and events. It was crazy stuff! Scary stuff, too. Yet Daniel is given reassurance that he is loved.
Just before Daniel 9, Daniel works out that the time of exile for God’s people in Babylon is almost at an end. God had said he would judge them in exile for seventy years, and the seventy years are almost up. So Daniel prays to the LORD and asks Him to have mercy on His people, forgive them and bring them back to their own land. And an angel brings a reply.
‘”At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:”‘ Daniel 9:23
Daniel’s prayers have been heard, because he is greatly loved.
In the midst of a crazy, mixed-up world, where things are changing and God’s people are under pressure, God reassures His child that his prayers have been heard, because he is greatly loved.
As I thought about the craziness of this world, I too was reassured as I read that. Yes, world events might be frightening. Yes, the thought of persecution is frightening. But there is no need for me to be afraid, because I am greatly loved.
I remember a day when I was being irrationally anxious. I was out in Belfast, in a city I didn’t know with a couple of friends, and I was feeling irrationally afraid of something bad happening in a place I didn’t know. We couldn’t find anywhere to go, and were walking around, and I was feeling haunted by anxiety. I was praying and trying to calm down, but it wasn’t really helping.
And then God did something amazing! You see, we weren’t the only ones in Belfast that day. Other friends were also in the country, as we had all been over for a wedding. But the chances of groups of us bumping into each other were very small. Only, as we are walking along, me feeling anxious and afraid, suddenly, randomly there were two more of our friends! It felt like such an encouragement from the Lord, and I suddenly felt protected and safe. Except, that wasn’t even the end of it! The five of us began to walk, chatting… and ‘randomly’ bumped into two more friends! Suddenly, there was a big group of us, laughing and going for coffee together.
It was a lesson from the Lord for me. He knew I felt alone and vulnerable, and so He sent friends to surround me. But it wasn’t really about them: it was about Him and His fierce, tender protection of me, His anxious child. As we walked back to our car, we passed an advert with words telling me that I would never be alone. And I knew God was encouraging me that it’s really true.
There is no need to be anxious about the big things, and there is no need to be anxious about the smaller things, either. The gaps in our minds can quickly become filled with anything we feel we could be afraid of; anything we don’t have control of. But the promises of God’s Word, and surrender to His plan, trusting in His goodness, can bring a sweet, strengthening peace. Because He will never, never ever let us down, and we will never, ever, ever walk alone.
And it frees us up to reach out in love to others, too.
What a way to live: to live loved, and knowing it; to live secure, wholeheartedly living in the love of your Father, fulfilling the purpose that He has for you, peacefully and joyfully loving and giving and being loved. This is a truly beautiful way to live- and it can have a powerful impact on the world. And it is rooted deeply in knowing that you are really, truly loved.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.