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Tuesday-Less Anxiety

 

Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.

 

Philippians 2:28

 

If ever there was a time in the history of the world when everyone is more anxious than now, I can’t think of it. Yes, there’ve been world wars, great droughts, famines. There’s been earthquakes and volcanic explosions that destroyed entire cities. There have been plagues that wiped out half of an entire populations.

 

But for all our technology, our education, our knowledge, our sophistication, we as a people are wildly anxious. Even though we live with greater affluence, comfort, and safety than most of the world, we are “far less equipped to handle the suffering and far more traumatized by it.[1]


Most of the solutions offered by our society for reducing anxiety, stress, and pain usually have to do with getting something. Taking a new supplement. Following a new spiritual adviser. Downloading a new app. Reading a new prayer. Meditating a new chant. It’s something we do for ourselves. Something we take in. Something we get. Something added to our lives.

 

But Paul goes in just the opposite direction. He looks at sending Epaphroditus, The Big E, as the way to end his anxiety. Remember that Paul describes The Big E as my brother. My co-worker. My fellow soldier. So, Paul’s not just giving up a last round draft choice, but someone of great importance and significance.

 

And Paul’s not hesitating at sending The Big E to Philippi. Paul’s not just eager, but all the more eager to send him. It’s like Paul bought the ticket, packed his bags, and called Uber to pick him up. Paul was going to make every effort to return The Big E to the Philippians.

 

The results of sending The Big E was going to reduce Paul’s anxiety. He has less worry and anxiety for himself and about the people in Philippi. Paul would have less emotional pain and trouble as he thought about them. So, how could Paul do what we can’t do? How could he reduce his anxiety but sending someone away? The answer is that Paul wasn’t depending on The Big E, or anyone else, to do what only God can do. God alone is the only one that can bring down our anxiety.

 

Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you.

 

1 Peter 5:7 CEB

 

This isn’t a suggestion. This isn’t an option. It’s a command. There is no need to discuss or dialogue about this. We are told to throw all our anxiety on God. Period. And this order comes from our great and loving Heavenly Father. It doesn’t come from a dead teacher or prophet that has no connection to us. It comes directly from the one who loves us. The one who loves us.  The one who died for us. It’s for our good. It’s to make our life better. It’s to give us hope, meaning, and purpose.

 

And this isn’t like throwing a fishing line out, so we can reel it back in. When we throw our anxiety onto God, he doesn’t offer a return policy. There’s no website or chat box to connect with a helpful and friendly heavenly Customer Service rep. When we throw our anxiety to God, he looks at it like all transactions are final. God doesn’t believe in a return policy. When we throw our anxiety to God, he always catches and receives it.

 

God’s definition of throwing our anxiety is to make a once-and-for-all deposit of its pain to him. I didn’t say it was easy. It’s hard. It takes a decision, detection, and determination.

 

  • Decision – It starts with a choice to give the anxiety, pain, fear to God. You can do this in many different ways. Some people just talk it out with God. Some make it a more formal prayer. My personal preference is to write it down because it helps me remember my decision.

  • Detection – Even though we sincerely make the decision, I’d bet the entire universe that we’ll be tempted to go back on it. We need to be on the lookout for going back on our word. We need to be alert and realize when we’re starting to think about going back and re-taking our pain and anxiety from God.

  • Determination – Making a commitment to God is serious business. It’s more than just casually saying that we’re going to do something. And when life starts getting rough, and it will, what are we going to do? When we’re tempted to retake pain and anxiety back, and we will, what are we going to do?

 

I’m about to say something wildly unpopular. It’s not going to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s not like a cup of hot cocoa on a cold, wintery night. It’s more like dumping a bucket of ice water over our heads. OK, here we go.

 

If we stay connected with our anxiety, then we really haven’t given it up. We’ve refused to truly let it go. I can say this because this is what God says. It also matches up with my experience. When I’m honest with myself, and anxiety comes roaring back, I really haven’t let it go. With all my heart, I’m begging you to throw your anxiety to God. I promise he will not only catch it but replace it with his loving-kindness. He will never leave or abandon you[2]. He will always be with you. Now that’s less anxiety.

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • What things and people bring anxiety into our lives?

  • How do we go out and attract anxiety into our lives?

  • What’s holding us back from letting go of our anxiety?


[1] Paul Brand, British physician that pioneered reconstructive surgery to ease the ravages of leprosy and diabetes on hands and feet

[2] Deuteronomy 31:8

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