Anxiety and Joy

There has been much discussion about anxiety in our household over the past few days.  After more than two years of planning, in a matter of hours we will be embarking on our adoption trip–an international, weeks-long, life-changing event over which we have no control outside of choosing our departing flight from a short list of carriers with service to Kiev.  With the exception of that one item, every detail of the trip is totally beyond our control…and that truth has a tendency to create anxiety.

Scripture speaks to the subject of anxiety and reminds us of God’s graciously providential care, which leads us to remain calm and confident even in the midst of chaos and the storms of life. Without a doubt, my favorite passage on the subject is found in Peter’s first epistle where we read, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5.6-7, ESV, emphasis mine).  Here we are reminded that God’s great fatherly love for his children gives us confidence to present our anxieties to him with an absolute, child-like, hope-filled trust that he is able to hear our cries and grant us peace (Phil 4.7). Even if in his perfect parental wisdom he allows us to bear some of the burden for a time, we know that we neither bear an impossible burden (1 Cor 10.13) nor do we bear it in solitude (Heb 13.5)

As one who faced countless trials and stress-filled situations, Luther writes on 1 Pet 5 as one who has dealt with anxiety first-hand.  In one of his House Postils, he comforts us with these words:

The Christian must take this course [of faith] if he would proceed safely and happily in matters of the highest import.  In time of danger and in the hour of death, when, with all his worrying, he cannot discover where he is or how he is journeying, he must, with eyes, senses and thoughts closed to the world, surrender himself in faith and confidence and cast himself upon God’s hand and care and protection, and say: God has permitted me to live until this hour, without my solicitude [i.e., anxiety].  Moreoever, he has given me his beloved Son as a treasure and sure pledge of eternal life.  Therefore, my dear soul, journey on in joy.  Thou hast a faithful Father and Savior, who has taken thee into his own hand, and will preserve thee. (Luther’s Sermons, Vol 8, p.70)

Thanks be to God for these wonderful words of encouragement!  As our trip draws near, let our words echo those of Doctor Luther, “My dear soul, journey on in joy!”

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