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Joy Stealers and Killers

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7

I wake up, stumble into the shower after getting the water ready for my French press. It’s Monday morning and I am already aware that my mind is racing with a million thoughts. And the thoughts seem to all hold the same troublesome theme: WORRY. The aching, nagging feeling of anxiety permeates my thoughts as I wash the shampoo out of my hair and think about the things to do and face today. Have you ever found yourself in a similar scenario?

Oh, how exhausting it is to live in this state! God certainly does not desire this life for us – in fact, He desires for us to pray through every worry as a means of concentrating on the truth that He is in control of our lives.  Not only that, but God desires for us to live in peace in that realization. We put so many things on ourselves in this life that it can lead to a tempting moment where we want to see ourselves as the god in a worrisome situation. An elder at my church made an interesting statement the other week in his sermon that struck me. He said that we when we worry in this life as believers, we are acting as functional atheists. WHOA. Never has a statement been more convicting to me. Charles Spurgeon also made a profound observation about anxiety and worry that shakes me up every time I read it.

“The very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labor to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to his plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding upon his province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God’s hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counsellor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the ‘broken cistern’ instead of to the ‘fountain;’ a sin which was laid against Israel of old. Anxiety makes us doubt God’s lovingkindness, and thus our love to him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking.” –C. H. Spurgeon

The essence of worry as we can see will absolutely steal our joy in life and hinder or witness for Christ. We must take seriously the call to pray over our concerns, consistently giving things over to Christ and meditating on His promise of taking care of our needs. And in that provision, it may sometimes look different than what we may have pictured. Nonetheless, God is good and is looking out for our best. The passages I have included below are some wonderful reminders for us in keeping these truths in mind.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:25-33

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:1

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” – Psalm 127:2

“Then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness.” – Job 33:26

“For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.” – Psalm 21:6

Let us hold firmly to the truth that we will only be truly joyful and at peace in this life when we take time to pray and meditate on our Lord’s precepts. God can also most certainly use other believers to also keep us focused on Him.  If you don’t already have an accountability partner to ask you about if you are keeping your worry in check, praying for you and speaking truth to you, I would recommend praying for God to give you guidance on whom to ask to keep you accountable. This is one of the best ways to live out true community in the body of Christ and also help yourself and your partner get stronger in the faith. I have personally found this to be a huge blessing.

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