June 22, 2010

Anxious About The Future

I woke up today feeling rather anxious. I am not really sure what I am anxious about (isn't that funny?), I just have this nervous feeling in my stomach. The first thing I did was pray about it, asking the Lord if there was any issue or measure of concern this day. I don't think there is anything happening right now that I need to be anxious about. I looked up the word in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, and was surprised to find this entry:

3. ardently or earnestly wishing

Weird? I wouldn't consider ardently or earnestly wishing as being anxious, but I guess it is. I mean, I would say that this is true in several specific cases. For example, supposed a loved one is dying or very close to death, you might be anxious about their end, earnestly wishing for them to pass in peace. Or, suppose you have asked your loved one to marry you, and they are thinking it over. Again, you are ardently wishing for a "yes" so you can plan your future together.

The next word I looked up was "ardent." I know what it means, but I do love the dictionary for clarity. Ardent means:

1. characterized by warmth of feeling typically expressed in eager zealous support or activity

Not necessarily the passionate answer I was looking for, but good enough. I usually think of ardent behavior as it relates to passionate interest. I like the word zealous, as often I am described as a zealous person (I tend to be passionate about certain things).

The next word I wanted to look up is this: anxiety

I decided to see what the Bible had to say on the matter. The verse that popped into my head this morning was the usual one from Philippians 4:6. I often quote this verse to myself, just to remind me not to be anxious about anything going on in my life or within another's life. However, I asked the Lord if this was the type of anxiety I was feeling this morning (you know, should I stop being anxious, do I need to control my feelings on this matter). The impression I got back was that what I was feeling was not anxiety as defined in Phil. 4:6, but rather, anxiety as Merriam-Webster defines it. I am feeling passionate about something, and the resultant feeling is one of ardent or earnest wishing, and not worry, dread or fear.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary defines anxiety as this:

Anxiety [N]
Uneasy feeling of uncertainty, agitation, dread, or fear. The most common words in Scripture translated as "anxious" or "anxiety" are the Hebrew deagaa [hg'a.D] (ten times in either the verbal or noun form) and the Greek merimna [mevrimna] (twelve times in either the verbal or noun form). Older English versions of the Bible often render these words as "thought, " "worry, " or "care."

In the Bible anxiety is frequently depicted as the common human reaction to stressful circumstances. Saul's father was anxious about his lost donkeys, and then about Saul's failure to return from looking for them ( 1 Sam 9:5 ; 10:2 ). The psalmist confesses that anxiety is "great" within him ( Psalm 94:19 ). Anxiety is portrayed in the Scripture as being inconsistent with trust in God. David prays: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thought" ( Psalm 139:23 ). Jesus' command, "do not worry, " which occurs six times in the Sermon on the Mount ( Matt 6:25-33 ), is coupled with admonitions to trust in the heavenly Father. Paul urges: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" ( Php 4:6 ). Anxiety frequently manifests itself in ungodly concern about provision, performance, or reputation, and appears to be rooted in incomplete knowledge, lack of control over circumstances, or failure to take an "eternal" perspective on things ( Matt 6:25-34 ; 10:19 ; Mark 13:11 ; Luke 12:11-12 Luke 12:22-34 ). Occasionally, anxiety is a symptom of guilt ( Psalm 38:18 ).

Freedom from anxiety begins with confession that it is not God's will. In fact, anxiety is a subtle insinuation that God is either unable or disinclined to see to our welfare. Other remedial measures include recognizing the futility of worry ( Matt 6:27 ; Luke 12:25 ); cultivating a growing understanding of God's power and fatherly disposition ( Matt 6:26 ; Luke 12:30 ); entrusting to God the things that we cannot control ( 1 Pe 5:7 ); increasingly viewing things in eternal perspective ( Matt 6:32-34 ; Luke 12:30-34 ); and substituting prayer for worry ( Php 4:6 ).

Referenced from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/anxiety.html

WOW! I just love Baker's Evangelical Dictionary (I just said, "Lord, may I PLEASE have a Baker's dictionary?" His response -- "You have one!" Yes, it is online and free!! Thank you, Jesus!) I love how you can look up a word and not only get back the root and traditional meaning from the Latin, Hebrew and Greek; but you also get a mini sermonette, filled with all sorts of encouraging support to help you understand the word and see it in it's proper context.

Now that I have read Baker's, I am more inclined to accept God's determination on this matter (not that I wasn't -- He knows that I liked to do word searches and such). I am not anxious at all, but rather, I am earnestly wishing and hoping for certain things to come to pass. I have a firm understanding of God's Soverienty, of His Provision and Care, and of the fact that He has an Eternal Perspective, and often I see with very finite eyes. I have tried to cultivate that same perspective, to see things as they pertain to Eternity, and not always the here and now. My MIL often says jokingly, "in the light of Heaven, it really doesn't matter." I have taken this phrase because it is a true statement. We need to take our life and our situation and always align it with Eternity. This is a great way to help us determine the value and importance of something. Often, we align it with Scripture, which is a very good thing. But, sometimes our concern does align with Scripture, and yet, in the end it will have very little overall impact on our life.

My concern today is to make sure that all my concerns, whether in the here and now or those that lay in Eternity, are from His Perspective. If I can keep that heavenly mindset, then I am less prone to worry, to doubt, to dread and to fear (as in Phil. 4:6), and will be more interested in pursuing, earnestly seeking and desiring the things He is all about (you and me, and the Salvation of the world). May my focus today be on the things that truly matter to Him, and may I take comfort to know that sometimes we can actually be anxious (in the good sense) as we wait for Him to move and work our lives. We are expectant, as a new mother waiting for her unborn child to arrive. We are believing and working and hoping for God's Hand to do something, and with that wait, there comes a little bit of zealous and ardent wishing for it to come to pass. This is where I am today, and I guess it is a good thing.

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