Devotion #67

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7 ESV

The world is a challenging place to live these days. Everything about this broken world seems to amp up the dissonance in our hearts. It can be difficult to find a peaceful place for our hearts to rest. Our marriages should be those places. We should feel a sense of security in our homes; our spouses should be our safe zones. But, far too often, we bring the anxiousness of the world into our relationships at home. If our desire is to live in a peaceful marriage, then we need to check the anxiety level in our own hearts. Don’t dump on your spouse what should be cleaned out of your heart.

Do not be anxious about anything—I love the totality of that statement. It’s not a suggestion for how we should live; it’s not vague in any way. It’s a straight-forward command—do not be anxious for anything. Think about that: we are to be anxious for nothing—not our spouses, not our kids, not our finances, not our jobs, not our families, not our health. Nothing.

Before we can truly apply a verse like this, we need to be clear about what anxiety is—it’s that feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety is future focused. It doesn’t come from just thinking about the future, it comes from wanting to control the future. We become anxious when we start to imagine the worst for a future that doesn’t even exist yet, and that anxiety becomes paralyzing when we can’t figure out how to fix our imagined future. When those anxious thoughts begin to dominate our minds, they control how we react to our spouses—everything is filtered through the lens of those anxious thoughts. We become harsh in our tone, we become unreasonable in our responses, we become forgetful in our praises.

Anxiety places the need to fix or control the imagined future on ourselves. We take on the responsibility for ensuring everything will work out just fine, and that weight becomes crushing. In today’s rapidly changing times, the future is a moving target. For many of us, our anxiety is growing exponentially as we become overwhelmed with our inability to change all that is happening around us. Scripture reminds us we were never meant to control our future. Stop taking on responsibility that isn’t yours. Anxiety fails to acknowledge that God is sovereign over your life. You are not sovereign over your life. You cannot control the future. Only God can. The one who loves you with a love so deep He died for you, the One who promises to work all things out for your good, the One who promises to hold you—He controls the future. If we only learned to cast all our anxieties on Him and trust in His plan, we would have so much more peace. I’ve always loved Paul Tripp’s quote about anxiety, “Honestly facing your lack of sovereignty over your own life produces either anxiety or relief.  Anxiety is God-forgetting. It is the result of thinking that life is on your shoulders, that it is your job to figure it all out and keep things in order.”

When we feel anxiety, it’s an indication that part of our heart believes a lie.  Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out what those lies are—because our heads know the truth. We know that we should trust that God is sovereign over all that is happening in the world, but our hearts still believe a lie, so God will intentionally allow different circumstances in our lives to reveal that lie. It’s part of the chastening and refining process of sanctification. He wants every part of our heart. When anxiety rises, it’s an indication we need to look for the lie our heart believes. We need to figure out the disconnect between our heads and our hearts. Our task is to think about the lies that we do believe and replace them with truth we know from Scripture. Then, we need to meditate on those truths throughout the day to replace the lies that have been living in our hearts.

One of the lies we believe is that we won’t be able to handle what is coming. In those moments, we must remember that we are given grace for today and today alone. We fear what may happen, but we have only been given the grace we need to face today’s troubles—we have not yet received the grace that we will need to face tomorrow’s trials. When we try to solve tomorrow’s problems with today’s grace, we will fail every single time. Anxiety comes from trying to manage future problems on today’s grace, and that’s impossible. Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow.

He’s going to be there tomorrow when we need Him. He promises, so we have no reason to fear. Isaiah 43:2-3, “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through the rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, your Savior, the Holy One of Israel.”

Corrie Ten Boom, when speaking of God’s grace said, “you only need the ticket for the train today, not an advanced ticket for tomorrow…God gives you only enough grace for today, not ‘advanced grace’ for tomorrow. That will be there for me, in plenty, when tomorrow comes.”

I’ve worked hard to live this truth out in my life, and it’s had an enormous impact on my anxiety level and my marriage over the years. I have been so thankful that this is a lesson He has not only taught me, but sealed to my heart through so many trials. It would be so easy to fill with fear over my future, but my husband and I continue to point to the times He has faithfully worked all things out for good, so we have remained surprisingly at peace throughout this season. We know He has a plan, and we trust it is for good—whatever it is. We try not to spend too much time thinking about tomorrow because we know He promises to be there with us to face whatever may come. There is such peace for me in that truth.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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