Monday, April 28, 2014

Doubt in Check

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

This week in our women's study we are going to discuss the attitude of doubt, so without just teaching my lesson here on the blog, I am going to make a few observations about our verse in light of a doubting attitude.  

I know many women who are plagued with anxiety.  Worry is their middle name.  I'm not calling them out - I know how they feel.  I am a natural worrier.  I say natural because it's a part of my sin nature.  We all have a bend and I have a bend towards worrying.  Let me give you a few personal examples:
  • My mom and dad nicknamed me "Room Mother" when I was in grade school because I worried about my classmates - would they remember to bring a number 2 pencil for the standardized achievement tests the next morning?  Because I wasn't sure, I would not only bring extras for those who forgot, but I would call each child in my class with a friendly reminder…yeah, I know, pretty sick for an 8 year old
  • I used to not like going to potlucks because I would worry that the food I brought would not be eaten - when I did, I wouldn't let myself look at my dish for fear it would still be full - maybe this is anxiety drenched with pride…
  • Checking and rechecking an alarm clock through the night to make sure an alarm was set properly was more important than a good night's sleep
  • To-do lists constantly ran through my head to the point where I would get up in the night and write them on the mirror with lipstick to make sure I didn't forget in the morning
  • Bob Wiley (from the movie, "What About Bob") became my hero - imaging the worst case scenario seemed a logical way to prepare for the worst
Now while these examples seem more humorous than sinful, the truth is anxiety feeds on itself and becomes a major part of life if not dealt with properly.  At first glance, anxiety seems more like an OCD issue, or just a personality type - I was paying attention to details and was just being conscientious by calling all my friends, right?  But worry and anxiety has a deeper issue and I believe it is connected to my relationship with God.  

Why would I ask Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart over and over and over and over again?  Because I doubted that either I had done it right, that God had heard me or that what His word said about salvation really worked.  Why did I care about my food being rejected?  Because my food was a reflection of me and rejection of my food meant there was something wrong with me - my identity was connected to my performance.  Why did I care about being on time or remembering a to-do list?  Because being on top of things gave me value - I was not finding my value in Christ.  So what was the result?  I worried about everything.

Now the Christian life is a journey - I get that.  Perhaps I should just let some of you come to this conclusion on your own but I am trying to save you decades of anxiety.  God has given us the ability to believe His word and act on it - faith is a gift from God and we need to use it.  Today I am amazed at how much the Lord talks about worry and fear in His word. It's kind of like when you get pregnant and suddenly you see pregnant women everywhere - once the Lord got a hold of my anxiousness and pushed me to act in faith and stop worrying about everything, I started to see it everywhere in scripture. It's not like He just mentioned it once and figured that topic was covered - nope, over and over again He tells us not to fear, to trust Him, that He's in control, that He will hold us up with His strength.  What a great truth to place your mind upon.

Dear friend, anxiety only limits your view of a powerful and loving God.  It takes the focus off of Him and makes you the center of the universe.  It makes you do things and feel things and think about things that are simply wasted opportunities to walk by faith and worship your Savior.  I know that a blog is not going to change any lives, but my prayer is that if you are riddled with anxiety, that you would at least consider that anxiety is rooted in doubt that God is Who He says He is.  If He says not to fear and that He will help us, then let's not doubt Him - let's trust Him and choose to give up what was never in our control in the first place.

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