Anxious January 28, 2024
Many suffer from what might be called emotional paralysis. We are unable to function today because we either live in the past or are preoccupied with worry about the future. While we may regret mistakes of the past, we cannot make up for those mistakes by continually reliving them in our minds. Where forgiveness is necessary, we should by all means pursue it with vigor. But there comes a time when we must move on and make the most of the present.
The apostle Paul had formerly lived in hostility to the way of Christ. He was obsessed with the destruction of the church. He consented to the death of Stephen (Acts 7:58; 8:1). He had been “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor…” (I Timothy 1:13). Paul dealt with his dark past by looking forward to his bright future in Christ. He wrote the Christians at Philippi saying, “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). It matters not so much where we have been as where we are going. We cannot change the past, but we can set the course for our future by how we choose to live today.
While some need to move forward out of the past, others need to take a step back from the future. It is as paralyzing to occupy today with worries of tomorrow as it is to continually relive the past. In these troubling times, how can we avoid needless worry? The inspired recipe is ours: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). In the midst of his warning about coming persecutions, Peter tells us to cast “all our anxiety upon Him, because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).
Because God cares, there is no past so dark or future so bleak but that our present cannot be filled with the light of hope: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24). By Glen Elliot, Greenbrier church of Christ (Adapted)
Christians are not completely immune to anxiety. However, as Holy Spirit-filled followers of the will of God, we do have access to a God who cares for us and who will help us cope with this human reality. Consider, for instance, some things that have been discovered about human anxiety. Objective studies indicate that the average person’s anxiety is focused on 40% of things that will never happen; 30% of things about the past that can’t be changed; 12% of things about the criticism of others, mostly untrue; 10% about health, which gets worse with stress and 8% about real problems that will be faced.
By grace, God gave us Jesus Christ who pleads, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). By John ? (Only the first name was given) (Collingwood church of Christ bulletin)