Anxiety rules our world. From the most powerful people in the world, to the very poorest people in the world, no one is exempt from anxiety. The problem, especially in America, is that we have built lifestyles that revolve around impatience. We don’t want to wait for anything. By the time one thing is done we are already moving on to the next thing.
I will give a personal example. This past weekend my wife and I spent some time with our friends in northern Michigan. EVERYTHING is slower in northern Michigan (including the Tim Horton’s). To someone from Philly this is simply unacceptable. We move at warp speed wherever we go. If you sit at a red light for more than a second expect to get honked at. Not in northern Michigan.
At first it annoyed me, and then I was ok with it. We don’t constantly have to be moving a million miles an hour. We weren’t created for that. I found myself just simply taking in the beauty of the lake and the forest, and not really caring what time it was. Sometimes it’s ok to just slow down. One of the big problems that we deal with concerning stress and anxiety is our lifestyle.
America has a MASSIVE prescription drug problem, and our lifestyle is a big part of the reason why. Instead of getting to the root of the problem, we just try to medicate it. Feel stressed out? Here’s a pill. Take this. Only it doesn’t solve anything. The problem is still sitting there waiting for us once the high from the medication has worn off. But an even bigger problem confronts us in today’s world: anxiety about the future.
Psalm 77 provides the key to overcoming anxiety and stress in our lives, especially when it comes to anxiety about the future. The psalmist says that when he was feeling down he just remembered the works of the Lord in the past. Did you catch it? What God had done in the past provided hope for the psalmist’s future. When we are stressing about the bills we can’t pay, the amount of things we have to get done in a short time, or the sickness we can’t get past, the best thing to do is to remember what God did for us in the past.
Remembering the deeds of the Lord in the past takes away all anxiety about the future. I know that he will provide, because he has provided in the past. His word says that he will provide for me. I know that he will heal me, because he has healed me in the past. These things cause me to understand that God is able to help me. If he chooses not to help me in that particular situation, then I’m liberated by the understanding that he must have something better in mind.
There are two things that I know for certain about God as it relates to stress and anxiety. First, God is able to do anything. If he wants to miraculously deliver me then he can. Second, I know that if he chooses not to deliver me then there is a bigger plan. I am his child and he loves me, therefore I know that his intent is not to harm me. The deeds that he has accomplished for me in the past show me that, beyond all doubt.
The Apostle John said that it is perfect love that casts out all fear. Stress and anxiety are symptoms of fear. Fear that God won’t provide for me or that he doesn’t love me enough to deliver me. The psalmist and the Apostle John provide the antidote for this nonsense. Of course you can know for sure that God loves you. How? Just look at what he has already done for you.