The Anxiety of Spiritual Forgetfulness

Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?
And do you not remember?

(Mark 8:18)

Why do we get so anxious about things?

Seriously, we stress, we panic, we fuss, we fret, over everything. We act as though the rising of the sun and the setting of the same depend upon our ability to get things done in a timely and orderly manner. When one thing starts to get out of our grasp, we freak out like the world is going to end. (And by “we,” I mean ME.) The Psalmist said it this way, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me” (Psalm 43:5).

I think the reason why we get this way, the reason I get this way, is forgetfulness.  It’s not that I forget that there is a God, I just forget that God’s promises, God’s power, God’s grace applies to every situation.  The rest of that verse from the Psalms says, “Why are you cast down… Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”  Being reminded of God’s salvation, of our hope in Him – there is no better cure for anxiety, stress, and panic.  “Be still and know that I am God” – that’s what God says to the panicky, the anxious, the worried.  Perhaps today we could write it:

Keep Calm
Carry On
God’s in Control

We need to be reminded of this. Frequently.

Let me illustrate this briefly.  As you all know I have accepted a new pastoral call, and will be moving to South Dakota soon.  Knowing that selling a house in a small town can sometimes take months, we put our house on the market in mid-February, hoping that we’d be able to sell it just before we needed to move.

We just sold our house in 1 week. We put a sign in the yard on a Monday, by Sunday we had a contract. We live in a small community in NW Iowa, so selling a house that quickly and for the price we wanted is pretty much unheard of, one might say, miraculous.  We were ecstatic.

But how did I respond?  I immediately began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to find a house to move into in our new community.  The market there doesn’t have too many listings, especially for a family of 6, within our price range.  I panicked.  What if we don’t find a house? How far will I have to commute? Will my family be homeless?

Wow!  Didn’t God just do something amazing? Did He not just show us His mighty hand? Won’t God, cannot God, do it again?

The Good News is, I’m not alone in this spiritual forgetfulness.

The Israelites, less than a week after walking through the Red Sea, complained that they couldn’t find water, and worried that God would let them die (Ex. 15:22-25).  Elijah, having just conquered 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, immediately ran into the wilderness and asked to die when Jezebel threatened to kill him (1 Kings 18-19). The disciples, having just witnessed Christ feeding 4000 people, started arguing amongst themselves because they forgot to bring along any bread (Mark 8:14-21).  They were in the boat with the One who had just fed 4,000 people; and yet they were worried because they forgot to bring along any bread!

I think that this is the fundamental reason why we stress, fret, and worry. We forget what God has done. We think that our problems are greater that God’s vision, our troubles are too much for Him to bear. We worry that God might just not be watching, might just not be able…

Oh weary heart, full of care, has God not shown His grace to be sufficient to meet your every need?  Has God not proven His faithfulness, time and again?  Has God not promised that “though weeping may tarry for the night, joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5)? Has God not promised to be your salvation, and that for those who love God all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28).

We need to remember, we need to be reminded, we need to keep this before us at all times.  Maybe that’s why Paul, in his encouragement to Timothy said, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Tim 2:8). We need to constantly remember that He is risen, He is alive, He rules and reigns over us and for us, He holds all things in His hands.  All our anxious cares subside in the strength of His everlasting arms.

Why are you anxious, oh my soul? Why so disturbed? Hope in God, for He is your salvation.  He is your God!

Soli Deo Gloria

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About reveds

Occupation: Pastor, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Lennox, SD Education: BS - Christian Education, Sterling College; MDiv. - Princeton Theological Seminary Family: Married, with Four children. Hobbies: Running (will someday run a marathon), Sci-Fi (especially Doctor Who and Sherlock), Theater, and anything else my kids will let me do.
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