“We serve a God who is not only powerful—not only does he have utter control of everything that’s going on in our lives—but we serve One who has tasted death on our behalf.”
Alasdair Groves taught a breakout session at TGC’s 2021 National Conference titled “Nothing Outside His Control,” as a response to the anxiety that is common to our human experience and amplified through current events.
Defining anxiety as “the reality that, in the fallen world, there will be suffering in our future,” Groves turned to Hebrews 2:7–9 to flesh out how we should address it. This passage clearly states that God is in full control of all things, but we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. Embracing those two truths, and holding them in tension, is key to rightly responding to anxiety in our lives.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Alasdair Groves: All right. Good morning. Welcome to the opening round of breakouts here at TGC 21. Just a quick reminder, everyone, please mute your microphones so we don’t get background interfere. But wait, you’re in person here sitting in the room, you don’t actually have to mute your microphone, this is great. And don’t worry, those of you coming in from a distance, you also don’t have to worry about muting, your microphones won’t be piped into the room. So you can turn the music back up, if I get boring, or whatever you need to do.
But, man, it’s great to be here with you guys in person. It’s great to be here. And spiritual, and mental and emotional and verbal sense, with those of you coming in from a distance. And I would just love to open our time by praying. Let me let me go to the Lord on our behalf. Heavenly Father, you are good to us. You are kind and and caring. And you see us in our struggles, you see us in the midst of our anxieties. And my request for our time this morning for the next three quarters of an hour is that we would know your presence more clearly.
And that we would think more wisely, more deeply, more, more biblically more richly Christian Lee, about what it is to feel anxious, what it is to be afraid. And how that experience can draw us into your throne room, can pull us up into your lap. May we be people who go out from this time, just a little better equipped to come to you and know you in the midst of our fears, and help others do the same. We offer this request to you knowing it is beyond our power to make this happen and asking your spirit to do this in us and we pray this in your name. Amen. All right. Well, we are here talking about anxiety. We’re here talking about Hebrews.
We’re gonna zoom in on one particular verse in chapter two for our time here this morning, but it seems like you ought to start by mentioning order to about anxiety. And I would you start thinking about what are what am I going to say what’s the most helpful thing and you start thinking about getting some statistics on the spiking of anxiety and the growth of anxiety and sonars? I don’t think I probably need to say that. I suspect every last one of us knows anxiety in our own lives in our own hearts. And we know that it is just going crazy. Everywhere.
All of us know, the just the up ramping of anxiety in our culture over the last number of years. And in particular, of course, since the beginning of the pandemic, is at an all time high in humanity. I don’t know how would you even measure such a thing, but it’s big. And you probably don’t need numbers for me to convince you of that. This really isn’t a surprise to us anyway, though, right? Because what do we find? When we look at scripture? What what do we expect? Looking at scripture?
Well, we would expect that anxiety would be a huge problem in human life, we would expect it to be an enormously common human experience, because scripture is just absolutely loaded, absolutely stuffed with material about fear, and anxiety. So if the Lord thinks that we have a lot we need to hear about in a particular topic or on a particular subject, probably, it’s because it’s a very common, very important and very meaningful human experience.
So let’s take a moment and just ask ourselves, what, what is anxiety? If you had to define anxiety, how, how would you define anxiety? Well, there’s lots of definitions, you should, you could give, and you’ll have your phones, you can just google it if you want. But here’s the definition I’m working from today. And it might be a little bit different than what you’d find on Google. My, my definition of anxiety for today will be it is the experience that in a fallen world. There will be suffering in our future. Let me say that again. Anxiety is the experience that in a fallen, broken world. There will be suffering in our future. unpack that more as we go.
But, but here’s that it’s it’s the experience that that our world is not what it should be. And that that is going to come and touch your life in significant ways into your future. And you don’t know what all of those ways will be. It’s important to add right up front that inang xiety we probably have an especially clear, especially important way of seeing something that is in our doctrine of humanity, and our biblical anthropology if you will, which is that we are body and soul, and the two are connected. You are your body, you are your soul, those those two can’t be separated.
One is not good, the other bad. You are body and soul, you are made that way by your Creator and anxiety. Man, you feel the interconnection, don’t you? I mean, just think about the physical power of anxiety. Right? What’s you know, the old you’re walking through the woods, and a snake goes across the path in front of you, or you hear the sound of a growling animal or you’re walking through your home, it’s dark, and you hear something in another room, right?
Just a simple sound, a simple sight, something that doesn’t even have to touch you. And you could realize, Oh, that was actually just a shadow going by, and your heart rate doubles. Right? You flush in your face, you tense your shoulders, your muscles clench your, your, your, your body heats up, right. It’s amazing how physiological, the experience of anxiety is. And again, nothing should be surprising about that to us, given that God has made us body and soul and think about the language of Scripture around anxiety, right? Think about how many times to do a word study on something like the word tremble, or quick, or melt or falter, right?
When when you get descriptions of people being afraid. And scripture, it’s very, very frequently in description of what happens to their body. Right? Your body is impacted by what you fear. And that is as it should be. That is as it should be. It’s good, that we have bodies that are connected to our souls in this beautifully linked way. I actually had a fun moment recently, where I was, I asked someone for a really significant favor. That meant a lot to me.
And they were like, Okay, let me think if I can do that, I’m gonna pray about it. So they pray they when they came back to me, and they were telling me and I could tell by the way, they had come back and said, Okay, can we talk at such and such a time I, I’ve come to an answer. And I could tell the answer was gonna be yes. And I was like, Okay, good. This is so exciting.
So I’m trying to like, hold back the muscles of my smile, I’m trying to, you know, stay, you know, because it could go either way, right? You know, I’m not going to get ahead of myself. And they get to the moment where they’re saying, you know what they’re going to do, and they said, and so I’ve decided not, and my whole body just clinched it in three quarters of a second, my gut just tightened up, I felt like someone had punched me in the heart. I felt the bile rising, I felt the flush of my face.
And then they went on, say, I said, not to do the thing I was thinking about, I’m going to do what she had asked me to. Do. You just aged me a year and a half and one second there. Don’t do that to me. Right. But But I had this moment of just realizing what it was going to mean, if this person said no. And my whole body screamed at the top of its lungs, if you’ll excuse the metaphor, saying this really matters. This is a big deal. Right? I mean, anxiety physically, right? It, it affects our sleep, it can make us jump can put tension on our shoulders, it can pump adrenaline through our bodies, it can cause you to sweat, you get the idea. And it’s a two way street, right?
Sometimes something’s going on in your body. And you’re like, I’m not afraid of any. There’s nothing I’m worried about right now. Why? Why am I feeling this so strongly, right. And in fact, you can become anxious about feeling anxious, so it gets complicated, but we’re body and soul. And I want to acknowledge that right up front. Obviously, there are times in places where it can be helpful to have some medications come into the picture that can help the physical side of the equation. We never want to be people who are utterly dependent on medication in the sense of saying like, well, as long as my meds my soul doesn’t matter.
My heart is irrelevant as long as I have medication, right? That’s not even if you have a broken leg and you’re taking, you know, aspirin to try to dull the pain. Your heart is always involved in everything you’re doing. You are body and soul no matter what. But I’m going to focus our time on the heart, on our soul on our mind on how can I respond from the core of my being to the fact that I live in a fallen and broken world. So this brings us to our scripture for the morning. Hebrews two, verse eight. And and I actually think we learned two profoundly helpful things in Hebrews two, eight. And it’s really important that we learn them together in the same verse.
So let me read it and then we’ll spend the rest of our time just fleshing this out. Well, I’ll read I’ll read seven through seven through nine but it’s first eight I want us to specially zoom in on speaking of Jesus of course of our Lord of the word who has come. It says of the Lord, You made him a little while lower than the angels, you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now, in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.
At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, crowned with glory, and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God, he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews two, eight, nothing is outside his control, nothing is outside his control, and at present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
Everything’s in his control. And we don’t yet see everything in his control. All things are subjected to him, we don’t yet see everything in subjection. God is in control. And that is of vital importance to our experience of anxiety. And secondly, we see and we feel that the world is not yet subjected, as it someday shall be. And so the key question becomes for us, in our anxiety, how do you hold those two together? How do you bring those two trues? And and hold to both of them? How do you embrace the reality? How do you accept the reality of both of those at the same time?
Well, that will be the question we’re trying to unpack here in our time. Let me begin with the first one. God is in control. The Lord God is almighty. He is sovereign. He is powerful. He’s good, he is strong, his mighty right arm have done has done great works. From the day of creation until today. There is nothing outside his control. And that is the core of our hope, in the face of all of our fears. Let’s let’s think about this, okay, God, God’s power, nothing is outside of his control. I remember as a kid, when I was getting old enough, I was beginning to ask questions about death and trying to understand what is death, and we were really all going to die. And I don’t know how old it was probably five or something like that.
And I remember my mother saying to me, she said, You know, one of most helpful things for me has been to realize that our lives are in God’s hands all the time, no matter what. And there will be things that we are scared of. But ultimately, whatever happens, it’s in God’s hands, you said, you know, if you if it is your time to die, if that is the time that the Lord knows is an is chosen for you to go home, then you could drown in a thimble full of water. And if it is not your time, if that is not the time that you are going to die, you can survive for days and days and the in the open ocean. And that is as you can tell stuck with me to this day that it Okay, that’s right. It’s not simply like, well, how dangerous is this circumstance? And can I have control?
And can I keep myself safe, right? We live utterly dependent utterly helplessly in the hands of our powerful God. And if it is not your time, for some particular struggle or suffering, or even death itself, you are going to make it through no matter how bad the odds are, or how bad things look. And if it is your time, all the best precautions in the world will not prevent it. You live in the hands of one who is in control. So we see God’s power. And that has been very clearly put at the center, right here in Hebrews two, eight. In Hebrews tonight.
There’s also this promise right? He tasted death, so that death would not hold us. harkens to Psalm 23. Right the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me. You walk through the shadow of death and it’s many shadows. Jesus Of course, plunging into death itself on our behalf, right? We serve a God who is not only powerful, not only does he have utter control of everything that’s going on in our lives, but we serve one who has tasted death on our behalf. We serve one who has promised to rescue us And so much of the book of Hebrews is on unpacking all of the rich ways that the Lord has promised to keep us safe.
We live in a world where the word anxiety has been almost entirely psychologize. And by that, I mean that has a lot to do with psychologists and the medical mental health establishment. But But I mean, something just very literally true. We, when we hear the word anxiety, we think of something psychological. We think of an internal experience in our head, in our emotions in our bodies. But scripture actually has a much more holistic picture of it. Scripture would like to expand this out from there and remind us that our anxieties are not just feelings in ourselves, be they cognitive or emotional or physiological, our anxieties have an external reality, right?
Think about David in the Psalms talking about being I’m surrounded by enemies, wild dogs, come after me, you know, an army surrounds me that and they encamped against me, I am be set by foes, real people have betrayed me. real friends have rejected me, your anxieties are not just about your internal feelings. We have a God who actually rescues us, and walks with us and grows and strengthens us, even through literal external, what the Bible would call anxieties, he saves us from our fears, not just by making us feel better, but by being the God who is sovereign over the entire world, the entire cosmos, he is a rescuer, who does more than settle our serotonin levels. And that’s not to degrade the internal experience and the importance of that, but just to remind us, that our God is sovereign over all of it, not just our feelings.
This sovereign God chose to come down and to be lower than the angels. He created the angels and then he chose to make himself lower to make his son lower for a little while, then the angels that he might draw us up. How could we have any doubts about a god like this? What is there to fear, right? This God who for the joy set before him endured the cross, this God who spoken many times, in many ways through through prophets, and now has spoken through His Son, this God who treats us as sons in our sufferings, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, the high priest who has come and forever and has offered a better sacrifice and is the true mediator, right? He who gave us his own son, how will he not graciously along with him, give us all things? Right?
What, what else can we say, in praise of the safety that God has given us? So why is the rest of this verse there? What? Why, okay, it’s surely the right Christian answer is simply to say, if I’m feeling anxious, it must be a failure of my faith, I must just not be believing hard enough, if I’m anxious, and the answer to feeling better and being better and being faithful and righteous is simply I’ve got to trust God harder, and make these anxious feelings go away, right? Not so fast. The scriptural testimony is deeper than that. In a sense, it is not less than that in it.
We want to be people who run to the sovereignty of God, and every anxiety that we have, I want to do that I aspire to that I encourage and urge you to be people who run to the Lord, to his sovereign grace, and help and love and care for you, in all your anxieties, and who find comfort in his strength and his presence. And we’ll say more about all these things. But the scripture also knows that we live in a world that is not yet in subjection to him.
We do not yet see everything in subjection to him, as the author of Hebrews puts it, he is sovereign, it is all in his control. And yet we don’t yet see it in full. We live in the reality that this is a broken world, that sufferings really will come. And they really will be a problem when they do. So here’s the question to each of our hearts. What is a faithful way to feel about that? How, how should we respond to this reality that are sovereign God who has control over all things in his sovereign, ordaining wisdom, has us in a world right now where we don’t yet see the full subjugation of our broken world. Well, let me let me take us to a few other scriptures to shed further light on this idea. But But here’s the, here’s the core of the answer.
Our anxieties, at their most fundamental, our fears, that they’re at their absolute core, are the experience that something we love has been threatened. Your anxiety, your fear is telling you that something you love is threatened, is in danger. It’s something you care deeply about, could be broken, could be irreparably harmed, at least from the perspective of this life. And here’s the thing that’s much harder for us that that I hope, I hope that what I said about God’s sovereign protective good power, is going to resonate with us through every moment of what we’re talking about here. But I think intellectually, that’s the easier part for us.
It’s hard to grab on to his sovereignty when we’re when we’re scared. But But intellectually, we understand that what’s harder, is understanding that there is actually a real, valid, righteous, legitimate place for anxiety in the heart of a Christian. Let me say that again, there is actually a right good, godly, faithful, righteous place for anxiety in the heart of one who loves Jesus, who worships God Himself, and who trusts him deeply. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s start with Second Corinthians 11. Now, spoiler alert, disclaimer.
Don’t read Second Corinthians 11. If you’re having a bad day, it will kill a pity party. Like nothing else. I mean, it’s just awful. It’s it’s this long list of Paul saying, you know, I was beaten and I was shipwrecked, and I was in the open sea night and day, and I was in danger in the countryside that was in danger in the city. And oh, and I was flogged, and I’ve been stoned and I was cold and hungry and naked. Okay, Paul, my day was not as bad as I was chalking it up to I mean, you really can’t get up any kind of head of steam, feeling bad for yourself, and sorry for yourself.
So just avoid that chapter. If you’re in kind of that, like, you know, awful place that we like to get to on a Monday morning. Here’s the interesting thing. The vast majority of what he describes in Second Corinthians 11, is physical. It’s just all these awful, awful bodily sufferings. And then he gets to verse 28. And he says, the way he phrases it is independent translation, but something like in addition to all of that, on top of all of that, in a sense as the capstone about so all these bad physical things have happened to me.
But in addition to all of that, I bear daily, the weight of my anxiety for all the churches. I bear daily, the weight, the burden, the aching pressure, of my anxiety, for all the churches. did Paul just jump into confession mode all of a sudden? No, he is not confessing sin to us when he says that. He is expressing those normal, natural thing to say, after all these physical sufferings, but you know what, it’s worse than that not only have all these hard things happen to my body, but my heart is weighed down, because I love Jesus. And I love his church. And I have poured out my life in my heart, and to plant in these churches into walking through incredible trials with these people. And I yearn for them to love each other, to walk with each other in faith and kindness, and build each other up and godliness and read any epistle you like.
And you’ll see the kinds of things Paul wants and hopes for, and the kinds of things he knows will come against them. Right? And he feels daily, the anxiety. What does he mean by that? What is he saying? He’s saying, I am concerned for those I love and because I love them, because I love Jesus? I know, the damage and the danger and the problem of the temptations that will come against them. The very next verse, he says, Who is tempted and I do not burn or there’s something to that effect, right? I feel with them.
The pressures when you suffer, you’re tempted to sin. When there is disagreement, you’re tempted to form factions and divisions and rivalries when the false teachers come and try to beat When you’re away from truth, your heart can be led away from trust in Christ, and you can have your church be crushed theologically, right? Paul is aware of these things, Roman persecution, Jewish persecution, personality cults, think of all the things that Paul addresses over the course of his letters. And in the book of Acts, right, we see it again and again and again. Here is a God who takes care of us and loves us and gives us the spirit and pushes his church out across the world through the power of the gospel. And the enemy is going to resist the enemy is against the church, on so many levels, and Paul knows it. And he bears daily, the anxiety, the burden, the weight of that anguish.
I won’t bother even read the passage, but you can check it out later. Philippians 225 through 29. We know the first half of the chapter quite well. In many cases, the latter half doesn’t get as much blame. It’s because it’s rather more sort of mundane housekeeping stuff. And Paul’s talking about his friend epaphroditus, who had come and cared for him in Rome and then gotten very sick. And he had worried about his friend of Aphrodite is dying in the philippian church who had sent him heard that a pafford itis was sick. And of course, they’re in anguish over different impulses at one point, you know, God spirit spared me sorrow upon sorrow, and a pafford itis being healed.
Thankfully, I didn’t lose my friend and I didn’t have to then tell you that the man you sent to care for me died and now you are also bereaved. Right sorrow upon sorrow that Paul is worried about. And he also says, and I will be less anxious, right? I will be less anxious. And he’s saying because I love you because I love this flippin church that I planted. And because I love the pafford itis, my friend, I’m anxious for you because you care about your brother that you’ve sent to me when you’re hurt. He’s on the verge of death. You worry for him, you rightly understand it will be bad and grievous if he dies. Think about the apostles, the apostles who so loved Jesus and and then you’ve got Peter.
You know, before the Sanhedrin he gets beaten and flogged, and a couple others get beaten and flogged, and sent out and told not to preach anymore. What’s the natural thing when you get flogged and beaten and told not to do something and then sent out? Well, you’re scared of getting flogged and beaten again, especially if you feel like oh, no, I’m going to have to keep preaching, right God demands of me that I keep sharing the gospel. I’m going to get beaten up again, this is not good, right? That would be a terrifying experience. It’d be painful and terrifying.
And what is the emotion that Paul experiences it’s joy, or that Paul that Peter experiences, it’s joy and rejoicing because they’ve been counted worthy to suffer for the name, right? So there is an awareness that bad things will come in this particular case they rejoice in because they are connected to him, what you love, what you care about, shapes what you feel. And in that moment, what they are caring about is the connection they have to Christ. And it overwhelms some of what might be natural to feel I’m sure they had butterflies in their stomach the next time they went out to preach, right, and they would eventually die for their faith. Right?
This is the world we live in. We have a strong and sovereign God, we can rejoice, knowing that we are connected to him in our sufferings show that no matter how grievous our situation, no matter how scared we are, but our anxieties in and of themselves, when they are something we’ve been called to love, because of Christ, when we are afraid, because we know some good thing God has given is in some kind of threat, there’s a right burden on our hearts. There is a right concern in our souls, that is actually a pleasing aroma to our God. Now, what do you do with all the passages that say, Do not fear? That seems pretty straightforward, right?
When the scripture commands you not to fear? How can you then say that anxiety has this potentially appropriate role in a Christian life? And this could be our whole talk is just on that question. Let me give the shortest little snippet of an answer and simply this tone matters. When you hear Do not fear in Scripture, you need to slow down and ask yourself, in what tone is the Holy Spirit speaking those words to me? Let me give you just one example of what I mean.
Luke 12: 32 – Fear not. Do not be afraid How does it go? Do not be afraid, little flock? For it is your father’s delight to give you the kingdom? Is that a harsh command? Now? Don’t be afraid? No, it is the most inviting tender words Oh, don’t be afraid. Do not fear. All Fear not fear not, it is your father’s good delight, his great pleasure to give you the kingdom, the kingdom is yours, your father knows you and He loves you. It’s okay. You don’t have to be afraid it’s going to be all right. The overwhelming number, the most common command in all of Scripture is Do not be afraid. Because we have a God who knows how afraid we are, and how broken Our world is, and how many places we will bump into the very shattering of the created order that have come through the entrance of sin into our world.
Thinking about this for a while, and actually part of my sanctification, over the last several years has been a growth in anxiety I have becoming more anxious person, as the Lord has led me to love more deeply. I have become more vulnerable to the brokenness of this world as I have grown through this prompting of the spirit to love more. And if you love more tomorrow, than you do today, if you care more deeply about the kingdom of God tomorrow than you do today, then you will be more anxious tomorrow than you are today.
Now, all this leads us to what I suspect is probably the most pressing question on most of our minds and hearts when we think about anxiety, which is what do I do about it? Okay, if there is a place for anxiety in my heart, and there is this wonderful truth that God is sovereign, and they and they intersect, in that both of them find their heart at the cross at the love of Christ. And I want to love him and trust him. And the more I love him, the more anxious I will be and the more trust Him, the more hope I’ll have. And the more comfort I’ll find right?
If it all comes together there. What do I do? And and the way I would like to, to describe the answer to that is very simple. I would like us to be people who are more faithful in our anxieties. I would like us to be people who do faithful anxiety. I would like us to walk after the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, whose daily anxiety for the churches does not lead him to biting his nails and frantic worrying and manipulative letters to try to get people to do what he needs them to do so that his reputation as an apostle isn’t harmed, right? That’s not where he goes. He is faithful, and anxiety. And that is what I want for us is a faithful, Christ honoring response to our anxiety. So I said earlier that anxiety is the experience, that there’s going to be suffering, that there is something in the future which will be broken.
Well, that means that anxiety in and of itself is a trial. It is a suffering itself. Anxiety itself is in fact, a temptation, a danger to us in that way. But like all trials, like all sufferings, like all temptations, it has the capacity to unite us more closely to our Lord. And it has the capacity to turn us away from him. There is a faithful anxiety and there is a faith less anxiety. We want to be those who are faithful.
We say a couple words about faith, less anxiety, just to clarify more what I mean, although I suspect intuitively, we could all probably answer that question fairly easily. Think about, think about the power plays that people make, that we make, I mean, everywhere, all the way up to totalitarian governments and dictators who grab and seize control and hold on to it with literal military myton for all of history, we’ve seen that again and again, I I need to be stronger and bigger than the other guys so I can win by force if it comes down to it.
And all the way down to the tiniest little subtle, manipulative ways that we treat each other because we want to have power over the other person’s that we can have what we want and not have what we want be threatened. My my wife and I, we were different. Let’s just say this. We’re different in our understandings of what makes for a good Saturday. I’m sort of more than like, you know, if I’ve got my couch in my book or just kind of putter around the house time like that is my happy place. And she is the adventure girl.
Let’s go do something Fun. So let me throw you hypothetical situation. There’s something we’re actually out as a family doing an errand and we realize, oh, there’s this cool thing we could go do over here. And just for the sake of argument, let’s say, this place is 17 minutes out of our way. 17 minutes away. Now, how? How am I going to describe that? Well, I don’t want to go do anything extra on a Saturday, we’re already out. We’ve already been doing errands, like, let’s just just get back home as quick as we can. That’s the real goal here. And I realized there’s this option out here, and it’s a threat to my comfortable Saturday, right? I’m loving my Saturday. So I don’t want to go. So how am I gonna describe that? I’m gonna say like, you know, it’s like the better part of half an hour away. Right, which technically is right. 17 rounds up to 30?
Not down to zero. Right? So better part 17 is more than half of half an hour. So technically, I’m right, right? the better part of half an hour away, you know, I just think that that’s really kind of a long tenable, how would she describe it? She didn’t say like, um, it’s a bit over 10 minutes, right? Which it is, you know, seven minutes, it’s kind of a large bit, but you know, a little bit over 10, right?
What’s happening in that moment, her anxiety, that she’s not gonna get the things she wants, is gonna lead her to pressure me, or it could lead her to Well, okay. She would never do that. I mean, I might make that comment. But. So right. But her temptation would be to say, if I’m going to describe it as this little 10 minute thing, like, how can you really not, you wouldn’t give up just a little more than 10 minutes to go do this fun thing. Right? And how am I painting it, you want to spend half an hour just for that? Think think about how subtle we can be and how amazingly frequent The Temptations are, this is what I want.
This is what I care about. And anything that threatens that in any way. tempts me to grab power tempts me to fight for my way. Think about people pleasing, right? I just don’t want you to be upset with me. I want you to think well of me. Oh, my brothers and sisters, how often do we orient our entire lives, our actions, our words, our thoughts, simply around getting other people to think well of us? I’m scared that you won’t like me. That’s an enormously dangerous temptation, leading to faithless anxiety. So often think about your escapism, right? What do you do, because you’re anxious about doing the thing you should be doing?
And instead, you’re just going to spend a little time over here. Think about the hamster wheel of anxious thoughts. If I just keep thinking about this, maybe I’ll figure something out. I can be more prepared for the worst, right? And again, I’m not against planning and thinking and wise, you know, preparing for what’s coming next. But, man, do we spend a lot of time on the hamster wheel? instinctively, don’t we?
There’s a book by a guy named Paul Miller, who said that anxiety is wasted prayer. I love that. The hamster wheel of frantic worrying in my head trying to sort out the future so that I suffer as little as possible or ideally Not at all. Anxiety is wasted prayer. So look at your life, and ask, what do I most often do when I am anxious? What do you what do you do with your anxieties? Are you even honest with yourself? Are you even aware that you are anxious? When you do when you feel uncomfortable? Are you running to the Good Shepherd? Or are you grabbing power? Are you running to escapes? Are you trying to keep people happy? Are you racing in your own mind? Those are the fruits of faithless anxiety. speak very briefly to faithful anxiety.
Before we before we wrap up. we human beings were called to have dominion over this earth, over creation and in sin we forfeited that full subjugation that was intended for us in Christ came down on our behalf and was the true and perfect human fulfilling humanity’s vocation and in Him, we share in his reign, even if all things are not yet subjected, as we have said, what do we do with that is three three thoughts for us for today, of what you do, to to live out of faithful anxiety out of a right burden on your heart and a right trust in the Lord held together through the power of the Spirit.
Number one you Tell him, the living God, what you are anxious about? Put it in the language of First Peter, you cast your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. You tell him what you are feeling. You tell him what you are worried about, you pour out your heart. You don’t just ask for help, although you certainly do ask for help you simply in awe, in shock that God would extend this invitation to you.
You pray the words of your soul, and you lift up your heart, you say simply, oh, Lord, I am afraid. I’m afraid of this. And you talk to him as if he was in fact, a father listening eagerly to what you had to say. I’m almost afraid to use the word prayer. Because prayer for us, is so easily and so often an activity we do something we check off of a list or something we know we ought to be doing more of. I’m talking about prayer the way you if you’re utterly thirsty, and there was a glass of cold water sitting on the table, you would pick it up and start to guzzle it. I’m saying, if you were standing for that class of cold water, and you said like, Man, I’m just so thirsty, I can’t do one more thing. I can’t pick up a glass of water and drink it as well. There would be something wrong with you, right? Spoiler alert, there is something wrong with you and me.
We do not instinctively run to the living God and our anxieties, run to him. Run to him simply telling him about your fears. simply telling this is Jesus we’re talking about. Interesting one commentary, I read noted that, verse nine is the first time that the word Jesus is actually used in the book of Hebrews. It’s as if he has been saving it. And and he’s now bringing this word Jesus as a way it says this, he was made a little lower than the angels, namely Jesus. But we see him everything is not yet subjected. Right? This is the first place where you begin to feel a sense of, oh, everything’s not the way it should be in the book of Hebrews.
And immediately on the heels of that the answer is, but we see him, namely, Jesus, the one who is personally close to us, the one who bears us on his heart. We would be crazy not to respond to that intimacy. With simple conversation with tears and fears. Bring him your tears, bring him your fears. Prayer anxieties. Secondly, listen hard for his voice. If thought number one is talk to him, thought number two. And these are not rocket science. These are not novel. Nothing i’m saying is a category you didn’t have. Right? Talk to him and listen to him. The greatest danger and your anxiety, no matter what, how much of its physical and mental and emotional.
The greatest danger in any kind of anxiety is that it will drown out the voice of Christ. That you will not hear the good words of Jesus. Listen to him. Right? First Peter five seven says you can cast your anxieties on him and leave them there. As every time you find yourself dragging them back. You have the chance again to cast them and say, Lord, help me leave them with you. Psalm 27 says that when you were surrounded, and your friends desert you and your family rejects you, he will protect you still and he will never forsake or abandon Psalm 23.
He is taking gentle personalized care of you and is restoring your soul in exactly the tender way that you need different from the person sitting next to you. Matthew 1822, he forgives your sins infinitely. Isaiah 41 he will be with you in every trial and fire and flood romans eight nothing can yank your soul away from his hands, nothing in all of heaven and earth, not even you and so on and so on and so on. Brothers and sisters, when we cling to his words in his promises, it is an act of worship. To take him at his word and respond by by clinging by hoping we are worshiping Him. And that leads to my last comment which is simply this we want to obey.
Trusting is a feeling but it is always an action. And whether you feel trustful or not. You can always find something to do that pleases the Lord. And when in your anxieties you say, I will do something to honor him, to follow him to live as if he is in control of all things. You worship Him in your action. You worship Him in your deeds, and He is worthy of that. So what is man that you are mindful of him? Man is God is mindful of us because we are His beloved sons.
He has subjected all things to Jesus, and he will invite us into that Dominion in full. He cares deeply about the things that are on our hearts and where things are not yet as they should be. So, so trust him in trust yourself to Him, and let your love for him, actually, grow your love for his kingdom. And let that grow your anxieties. And let that grow your faith and your worship. All the more. Let’s pray. Lord, I pray simply that you would make us faithful and anxiety and that in doing that we would know your love care, goodness, power amazingness more than ever before. May we see our anxieties as opportunities to know you better or pray this in your name. Amen.