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Are you afraid? Are you frustrated? Millions find the stress of daily living almost unbearable. Can we have faith in the midst of challenges, dangers and anxieties? Yes, we can! God's word shows us how.
We live in a world of challenges, dangers and stress. Can faith overcome our frustrations?
Millions of people around the world suffer from anxiety disorders. A major newsmagazine asked the question, how many of us are "worrying ourselves sick"?
That article observed, "There is certainly a lot of anxiety going around. Anxiety disorder—which is what health experts call any anxiety that persists to the point that it interferes with one's life—is the most common mental illness in the U.S. In its various forms, ranging from very specific phobias to generalized anxiety disorder, it afflicts 19 million Americans" ("Understanding Anxiety," Time, June 10, 2002, p. 48).
Many people experience even more serious mental health challenges, including panic attacks or panic disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health reported: "Approximately 2.4 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 1.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have panic disorder" ("When Fear Holds Sway," April 9, 2004). Millions of us experience anxieties that interfere with normal living. Just the stress of everyday life can kill us. We commute in congested traffic. We interact with angry, argumentative people. We face financial, social and personal problems.
The Bible gives us strategies for overcoming worries, frustrations and anxieties. But our materialistic world distracts us from spiritual priorities. Jesus chastised His listeners who worried about food and clothing. He said, "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:30).
Yet many of us allow ourselves to worry. We become fearful and anxious. What do Americans fear most? A 2001 Gallup Poll surveyed U.S. adults about their fears. The number one fear was snakes, affecting 51 percent; the second-most prominent fear was public speaking, affecting 40 percent. These were followed by: heights: 36 percent; enclosure in a small space: 34 percent; spiders and insects: 27 percent; needles and shots: 21 percent; mice: 20 percent; flying: 18 percent; thunder and lightning: 11 percent; dogs: 11 percent; crowds: 11 percent; going to the doctor: 9 percent; the dark: 5 percent.
God knows our fears. Jesus said that your Father knows you intimately. Jesus gives us this encouraging perspective and instruction: "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6–7). Or, as the NIV states it: "Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (v. 7).
As you read and study God's word—the Bible—you will learn of His awesome love and His amazing promises to you. You will find documentation of God's intervention in people's lives. He promises that He will intervene in your life! Just read Jesus' words in chapters 5–7 of Matthew's gospel, often called "The Sermon on the Mount." I was amazed when I first read those words. I was about 12 years old at the time. I took those words seriously and it began to change my life!
Today, many modern distractions keep us from spiritual priorities. We live in a materialistically minded world. Many seek wealth as their first goal in life, whether possessions of real estate, cars, boats, jewelry, cash or designer clothing. Others seek power of position in government, business or education. Others seek pleasure through illicit sex, overindulgence in media and other forms of entertainment, alcohol or illegal drugs. Many even become addicted to video games. Human nature causes us to turn to activities that deepen our fears and our frustrations. How can we replace those fears and frustrations with peace, faith and love?
If we have reverence for God, we can keep our daily problems in perspective. Many in mainstream churches call the fear of God "primitive." But the biblical fear of God is not "being afraid" of Him—it is a deep reverence and respect for our Creator. It is an awe of God's majesty and greatness. It is a response to the reality of God. When you choose to fear God, you will not fear human beings. We must understand that the fear of God and the love of God are not mutually exclusive. Many professing Christians think that you have one or the other. That is not what your Bible says. Both qualities are required in our relationship with God. "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which command you today for your good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12–13).
A godly fear helps us overcome phobias and worries. "In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge" (Proverbs 14:26). True faith and confidence—strong confidence—come from God.
The New Testament also praises the value of a godly fear. Notice: "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Hebrews 11:7).
Yes, God requires that we both love Him and fear Him. Both qualities go hand in hand! I challenge you to read through the books of Psalms and Proverbs. The blessings and benefits of a godly fear will amaze you!
How else can we overcome our worries and anxieties? Jesus' beloved apostle, John, wrote: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment" (1 John 4:18). Love is the antidote to fear. How can we have that love? We must realize the profound truth John mentions: God is love. "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him" (v. 16).
Yes, God loves us, and He will give us the gift of His spiritual love! He gives us this amazing promise: "And hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us" (Romans 5:5, ASV). Human selfish nature can be transformed into a loving, godly nature. We receive this precious gift of godly love by the Holy Spirit that was given to us. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter explained to thousands how to receive this wonderful gift: "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call'" (Acts 2:38–39).
Sometimes, Christians are not close to God, and they become frustrated. Are you often frustrated? The word "frustrate" means "to prevent from attaining a purpose; to thwart." The word comes from the French frustra which means "in vain." The fruits of frustration can include mental anxiety, worry, turmoil, apprehension, nervousness, and restlessness. How can you overcome your frustrations?
Many of us live lives of worry and anxiety. We all experience frustration in our modern society. We sit in traffic jams when we are late for an appointment. We feel burdened with long hours on the job. We may feel rejected when asking someone for a date. We may feel insecure, or unloved. We may have conflicts with friends or family. We may have health problems. We may lack patience. Things just go badly for us at our workplace, or school.
Why do we experience so many frustrations? Perhaps our focus is on the material rather than the spiritual. What goals are you setting? When you set the wrong goal, you can be thwarted and frustrated. The simple solution is to set the right goal. If you have not already internalized these words of Jesus, you should: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).
We become frustrated when we have the wrong goal, or no goal at all. God has made us for an awesome purpose. When we commit to His goal, and seek God's Kingdom and His righteousness, we minimize life's frustrations! We also become frustrated when we insist that our own will be done, without consideration for others. The selfish attitude is, "I want it my way." Our Savior gave us the right example. Even when He faced crucifixion, He prayed, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).
Jesus surrendered to God's will. When we surrender to God's will instead of insisting on our own, we find peace and overcome our frustrations. Remember, Jesus taught us to pray, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).
We need to have the right motivation. We all need the godly attitude of giving as opposed to getting. Scripture tells us, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). Or, as the Moffatt translation has it, "It is happier to give than to get."
Patience is another strategy for overcoming frustration. Several characteristics of love, or charity, are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13, which is often called the "love chapter" in your Bible. What is the first characteristic? "Love suffers long and is kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4). Or, as the NIV states it, "Love is patient, love is kind."
The Bible emphasizes our need for faith. Perhaps you are lacking faith and confidence. Can you have faith in this faithless age? Yes, you can. How? "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
Is it any wonder that many of us lack faith? If our priorities are materialistic, we will not have faith. Jesus of Nazareth made plain what our top priority in life should be. He addressed the common problem many have of worrying about their physical needs. "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:25–34).
Jesus encourages us to not be anxious or worry about our physical needs. The opposite of worry and anxiety is faith. So Jesus instructs us to focus on the spiritual. If we do, then all our physical needs will be added to us.
Abraham obeyed God in faith. You need to decide whether you will step out in faith and obey God, as Abraham did. Abraham believed God's promises. Will you believe your Bible? Will you believe the wonderful promises God has for you? Notice Paul's description of Abraham: "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore 'it was accounted to him for righteousness'" (Romans 4:20–22).
Ask yourself, "When I read God's promises in the Bible, do I believe that God is able to perform what He has promised?" If you do, you are well on your way to living by faith. Read your Bible, and claim God's promises. He wants you to have a close relationship with Him.
God promises to provide our every need. The Apostle Paul wrote, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). That is God's promise to you. Once you know God's promises, you can talk it over with God in prayer. You can claim God's promises. You will follow His instruction, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matthew 7:7–8).
Take God at His word. Pray to Him, according to His will. Ask, seek, and knock. You will find that answered prayer will help you overcome your worries, frustrations and anxieties with faith.
The godly qualities of patience, faith, obedience and surrender to God's will (and His divine love) will help us overcome our frustrations, fears and anxieties. God wants us to live by faith. He will give us that faith, if we draw close to Him in prayer, and seek to understand His will from the Bible. The April 2005 edition of Reader's Digest featured an article titled: "New Proof Prayer Works." Author Julie Bain wrote, "While no one can absolutely prove that prayers cure illnesses, many doctors cite cases of recovery that can't be attributed to any other reason. What we do know, though, is that religion and spirituality can reduce stress and boost the immune system" (p. 153).
The Bible instructs us to pray daily. If we humble ourselves to seek God in prayer, and if we read the Bible seeking to do God's will, He will give us more faith and more peace of mind. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Three times in the New Testament, we read that "the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). As we draw closer to God in our actions and in our prayers, we can have the godly fear that will help us face our frustrations, and experience the benefits of faith.
God gives us amazing promises in His word, the Bible. We need to act on those promises. Then we can have the love that casts out fear and frustration, and we can live by faith.