The Futility of Anxiety

Well, I guess mtsweat is happy this morning. I seem to recall you being a Cardinals fan, right? 8) But that’s a subject for the Other Blog, should I ever have time to update it again.

Good news with Stephanie. She had a really good psychiatrist’s visit yesterday. He has been insisting for some time that the school environment simply won’t work with her. And honestly, I must admit that her struggles have been getting progressively worse ever since she started changing classes (somewhere around intermediate school). His suggestion, which we are going to attempt to work out with the school is either 1) going “homebound,” which means the school has to send a teacher to our house, or 2) dropping out. So, at this point, we are pursuing the hombebound option. Stephanie is almost giddy. Her entire countenance changed yesterday afternoon. She’s completely like a different person. It may not work out…we’ve had difficulties before with Keller ISD cooperating, so we will see. Christi and I have agreed that it’s not a disaster if Stephanie doesn’t graduate. Even if she does, it’s pretty meaningless…she won’t have a 12th grade education, anyway.

Tonight we have our lifehouse group meeting. So I won’t get to watch much of the World Series game. But some things are more important. Life, for instance…

Today’s Bible readings:
2 Thessalonians 2; Jeremiah 21-22; Proverbs 22:9-16

Paul feels the need to begin chapter 2 with encouragement concerning the “day of the Lord.” It seems that some are saying that it has already happened. …not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (v. 2) Paul says “the rebellion” must come first and the “man of lawlessness” must be revealed. (v. 3) “Lawlessness” is rendered “sin” in some manuscripts. This man will set himself up as God, according to verse 4. He chastises them gently in verse 5: Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? Then he gives some words that are actually kind of difficult to understand. And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. (vv. 6-7) Unfortunately, we who read this now don’t know what the 2 Thessalonians knew, because it is not self-evident “what is restraining him now.” The only thing we know for sure is that God is behind the power that is restraining this “man of lawlessness.” We do know, however, thanks to verse 8, that Jesus will make short work of this man when he returns. Take note of the activities, though, in verses 9-12. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Also take note of who sends the “strong delusion!” It is God! It is very important to realize who is in control of all things. The Lord is in control of everything.
Paul then gives thanks for the Thessalonians, though, and encourages them to stand firm. Then he shoots out a short prayer for them. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (vv. 16-17)

In Jeremiah 21, the king sent the priest, Pashhur, to Jeremiah to ask him about the impending invasion by Babylon. Jeremiah told him that the Lord said that he would fight against Jerusalem. But then he gave an interesting prophecy. “And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’ (vv. 8-10) So they were told that if they went willingly with their attackers, they would be spared.
In chapter 22, the Lord declares his desire for justice. Thus says the LORD: “Go down to the house of the king of Judah and speak there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, who sits on the throne of David, you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation. (vv. 1-5) God has always cared deeply for the oppressed, the widows, and the fatherless. If a nation refuses to care for these, that nation is doomed.

Today’s reading in Grace For the Moment, by Max Lucado, is called “Fretting Is Futile.” The Scripture reference is Matthew 6:27. And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Another word for “being anxious” is a word that we are all too familiar with…”worry.” “The biblical word for worry (merimnao) is a compound of two Greek words, merizo (“to divide”) and nous (“the mind”). Anxiety splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s problems. Part of our mind is on the now; the rest is on the not yet. The result is half-minded living.” Wow. That’s pretty amazing. And very accurate, I think. But there’s more.
Worry, though not a disease, is responsible for other diseases. Anxiety has been connected to “high blood pressure, heart trouble, blindness, migraine headaches, thyroid malfunctions, and a host of stomach disorders.”
Know what the really sad thing about all this is? Worry accomplishes absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero. It is totally futile. “Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease.”
My mother used to tell me, “Don’t borrow trouble.” Is faith the opposite of worry? I don’t know. But it is certainly the cure for it.

Father, please teach us how to not worry. Teach me how to have faith that preempts worry. Anxiety is useless. Yet I find myself directly disobeying Scripture by indulging in it. Do I enjoy worry? Is it fun? No. Yet I find that I lack faith and tend toward worry anyway. Thank you for this definition that shows me that my mind is divided when I worry. There is not point in being focused on the “not yet.” It is completely useless and a total waste of time. Not to mention that it’s a sin, as well. I truly believe that, Father. So forgive me for my sins of worry. And make me more faithful and obedient.

I pray for the church, Lord, as the end draws closer. Obviously, none of us knows when it will happen. It may not happen in our lifetime. Many are convinced that it will; that times are so much worse than ever. But are they really? All you ask of us is to be prepared. That we stay alert, and be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us about our faith. I pray that I will have that answer, should that time arise. Keep me alert, Lord.

I thank you for a good doctor visit yesterday with Stephanie. I thank you for the change in her when the decision was made to try to change her circumstances. I pray for her mind, Father. I pray that you would work to change it and heal it.

I pray for this work day for me and Christi. Help us to get things accomplished that need to be done. I pray for our lifehouse meeting tonight. And I begin praying for our worship celebration on Sunday. I pray for our pastor as he prepares a message for this week. Give him great faith and peace as he prepares, and open his mouth to speak exactly what you would have him speak.

Worrying never solved anything.

Grace and peace, friends.