If you do well, will you not be accepted?
And if you do not do well,
sin is crouching at the door.
Its desire is for you,
but you must rule over it
(Genesis 4:7, ESV).
Dread, discouragement and defeat are old friends of mine—such intimate acquaintances that, for a long time, I’ve scarcely noticed when they’ve dropped in. But lately, they’ve gotten so insistent, like a whiney dog that wants in from the rain, that suddenly they’re impossible to overlook.
Dread always comes when there’s a big event or trip coming up. And discouragement and defeat follow close on his heels. I’ll think: I can’t get things ready in time. I’ll never pull it off. I should have started sooner. I can’t. And finally, and always: What was I thinking, agreeing to/volunteering for this?
Some ordinary days, dread pops up when I have too much laundry, a messy house, nothing to cook for dinner and we’re behind on homeschooling. These are not tragedies, to be sure. But the feelings of dread, discouragement, and defeat scold me for my mess and whisper You’ll never catch up. Let’s be serious…never? That’s just silly, right?
It’s funny. You can live so long with the comfortable aches and pains of anxiety that they become your “normal.” But lately, The Lord has fine-tuned my ears. I hear all this garbage and I see how it slows my thinking, paralyzing me, leading me to bad choices…to want to say “no” to good things…to quit, when the truth is that I am making good progress.
Dread. Discouragement. Defeat. They all come down to one thing: Doubt. The reasoning behind Doubt is rooted in lies: God is not interested in this small thing; you’re on your own. Or: You’re the one who thought too highly of yourself…Did you really think that you could do this? You can’t possibly carry this…you’re about to fall.
Anxiety opposes Truth, opposes God. Doubt calls God a liar, because God says:
- “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, ESV).
- “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:1, ESV).
- Nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37, ESV).
Anxiety is a mirage. A construct of your mind. It borrows trouble that hasn’t, and likely won’t, happen. For me, it is like the sink faucet running at top speed…loud, messy, and if I don’t turn it off it, threatens to spill over.
But if I listen closely, there is another, different refrain playing softly in the back ground:
- The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent (Exodus 14:14, ESV).
- The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV).
- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20, ESV).
Our thought life comes down to what truths we will accept. Who we invite in, who we will entertain. I am excited to think that turning the faucet of anxiety on, or off, is a habit…and habits can change.
“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NLT).
I would love to hear from you in the comments. Do you, or does someone you love, struggle with anxiety? Have you learned to shut the door to those thoughts, turn off the faucet of fear, and listen to the sound of the Lord singing over you?