While taking my daughter to her endocrinologist appointment this morning, I cringed as the receptionist pointed to the elevator and said, "It's on the 5th floor." I hate elevators. Being on them makes me feel unstable and vulnerable. You are suspended in the air by a cord. No foundation under you, just air. Built by man, inevitably flawed, anything could go wrong at any point. But I plastered a smile on my face as my daughter held my hand so that she could find some comfort and escape her own fear, even if just for a moment.
As I sat in the waiting room reviewing my notes for my anatomy class, I mulled over the complexity of our bodies and how absolutely astounding they are. So many things have to happen at just the right moment for you to even lift your arm up to write a word or type a message. Thousands of chemical reactions speed up as multiple enzymes begin to take action the very second you decide to grab the pencil. The more I learn, the more in awe I stand at the architect who created it. I know Him. He has called me into a relationship with Him. He has allowed me to know His very nature, His character and His ultimate love for me as His beloved. The architect of that elevator however, I don't know anything about. For example, were they people of noble character? Did they put pride into their design? What about the men and women who worked on the installation aspect of that elevator? Were they careful and meticulous or were they in a hurry, not considering those who would use it? But even not knowing any of this, I still took my daughters hand, stepped onto the elevator pressed the button that said 'five' and rode it up to our destination. Why is it so easy to put our hope in perishable foundations when we have been called to rest on the one who is unmovable, unchanging and secure?
We are an anxious and fearful generation. I lose sleep worrying about my health–is this ache or pain an indication of something bad that's coming? What bills need to be paid this check? I mull over conversations from the day wondering if I said the right or wrong thing to this or that person. With pen in hand, I orchestrate all the plans for the following day, trying to fit in every little thing I need to accomplish to satisfy my self-assigned quota. It's no wonder 75-90% of all doctor visits are stress related. Approximately 30% of adults in the United States suffer with anxiety disorders and even more than that who aren't being treated.
Anxiety in the heart of man weighs him down. But a good word makes it glad.Proverbs 12:25
In the world we live in there is much reason to be afraid. I purposely avoid the news for that reason. Constantly being confronted with more and more bad news, the roaring of this broken world can drown out the command of our Savior, "Fear not, for I am with you."
When we build our lives on unstable foundations, such as pride, acceptance, affirmation from others, financial stability, or success in general, when we trust in man more then we trust in God, when we fear failure, sickness, rejection, and isolation more then we fear God, it's no wonder we feel so shaken and unsteady. Just like the way I felt in the elevator.
In Mark 4, Jesus asked His disciples a question that I often refer to when it seems as though the wind and waves from the worries of this world are going to overtake me. Let's start in verse 37,
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he (Jesus) was in the stern asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them "Why are you so afraid?" Have you still no faith? And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
He didn't just ask them why they were afraid as if there was no reason at all for fear, but why were they afraid so much so that they questioned His care for them? They were so consumed by their fear, so shaken by the wrath of the wind and waves, that just for a moment, they doubted whether He would let them die out there. Jesus asked the question and then answered it with a statement. "Ye, of little faith." We trust God for the greater gift of life, but stumble to believe that He will provide the lesser gifts needed to sustain that life. The disciples already believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, but their fears prevailed so much so that they appeared to have no faith. I always found it interesting that at the beginning of this chapter Jesus said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." Was He lying? Did He not know there would be a storm that would threaten to sink them? Of course, while He was sound asleep in the bottom of the boat, He knew the storm was coming. The promise was given. The outcome secured. God's purpose will prevail.
"Peace, Be Still"
Our anxiety is directly in proportion to our lack of understanding of the sovereignty of God. Matthew Henry said, "Their confidence lay in this, that they had their Master with them; and the ship that has Christ in it, though it may be tossed, cannot sink; the bush that has God in it, though it may burn, shall not be consumed."
Brother and sister in Christ, must we not know who we are? We are fearfully and wonderfully made, loved with an everlasting love. Created in the very image of God and of more value than rubies. His children bought with something far more valuable than silver or gold: the very blood of Christ. Christ died because he refused to let you perish. As ambassadors of Christ, we carry Him within us and we can rest in confidence that as Matthew Henry stated above, though we may be tossed, we will not sink.
I believe freedom from worry and fear is found in knowing and securing our footing in our identity as His Beloved. Positioned in Christ, we do not have to bow to our circumstances. Yes, you will have trouble, but take heart, He has overcome this world.
*Can I speak a moment to those who, like me, have been medically diagnosed with an anxiety disorder? Do not let the enemy of this world lie to you. It is not because of your lack faith. God has taught me so much in my own battle and I want to comfort you in this, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39).
You are loved, and you are a mighty warrior of the King. With the comfort you receive, go and comfort those around you, for that which was meant for evil God will use for good. I pray today that you don't just read the truth found in God's Word, but that you choose to believe it and let it strengthen you and renew your mind.