Fighting the Good Fight, Suffering with hope

Anxious? Afraid? Preach the Gospel to Yourself

I am what you call a worry wart. I have been all of my life and it continues to be one of the greatest battles that I wage daily in my walk with Christ. I have given Him my life, but I often have a disconnect with truly trusting Him with my daily worries and fears.

The last few years, as my health has struggled, I have become increasingly anxious over getting sick in addition to my daily pain and discomforts. I have realized this anxiety tempts me to fear leaving the house, to bathe myself and children in hand sanitizer everywhere we go, and experience frustration and panic when my children get sick. Let me tell you, this is an exhausting, joy sucking, way to live.

I think it’s fair to assume that others can relate with the struggle of anxiety and fear over many of the things bombarding us everyday. This perpetual state of anxiety over what is ultimately out of our control can prevent us from experiencing the peace, joy, and contentment that is ours in Christ.

What are some ways that you see your anxiety levels rising right now? Is it over your health, family, to-do list, a strained relationship, difficult decisions, or future unknowns?

What does it look like practically to find freedom in Christ from our anxieties and fears?

We must preach the Gospel to ourselves constantly.

I’d like to share 3 ways that the Gospel answers this struggle in all of us.

1. The Gospel tells us that Christ died in our place, but He also LIVED in our place. 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” Galatians 2:20-21!

Jesus Christ lived His life on earth in complete and perfect trust in His Father. While we fear and worry about the unknowns, Christ had to trust His Father’s will despite KNOWING the incredible pain He would suffer on the Cross. He had more to fear than any of us ever will, yet He chose to trust in complete obedience to what He was called to do.

Those of us who are in Christ Jesus have been crucified with Him and therefore no longer live, but Christ lives in us. This incredible gift of God means that when He looks at our life, He sees the life of Christ. The perfect, obedient, holy life of Christ. We no longer live by the law that would condemn us for our lack of faith, but now we live by faith in the Son of God, which declares us righteous before God.

It is possible to believe that Christ died for us, freeing us from the wrath of God that we deserve, while forgetting the truth that He also lived the life that we are incapable of living on our own. When we wrongfully try to control all of our circumstances, we end up suffering anxiety and stress. Instead of living under the righteousness of Christ that is ours to claim in Him, we can continue to live as though we are still under the law.

Praise God that when we fail to choose to trust Him, we can proclaim the Gospel to ourselves and thank Christ for His complete and perfect faith in the Father on our behalf. We need to remind ourselves constantly that if we are in Christ, we no longer live trying to save ourselves, but live by faith in the Son of God. The incredible truth of the Gospel motivates us to repent of our faithless anxiety and desire to control and then turns us to pray for the strength of Christ to help us rest in His control over our lives.

2. The Gospel reminds us that “Jesus Christ BOUGHT and PAID for every answer to prayer and blessing we receive.” Jerry Bridges

For me, most of my anxiety stems from the wrong belief that I don’t deserve to suffer. This is one of the most damaging lies of the enemy because if we believe that we don’t deserve to suffer then we will always question God’s goodness. Why would we trust God with our fears and anxieties if we don’t ultimately believe He is always good? But when we see the truth that we deserve nothing but the wrath of God for our sin against Him, it should motivate us to give thanks for the blessings and answers to prayers that we receive only by God’s grace that Christ bought for us on the Cross. Because of this truth, we can believe the promise, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28. 

If God sacrificed His Son to save sinners like us, how much more then can we trust His goodness and sovereignty over the many things that cause us to worry and fear?

What answered prayer or blessing can you thank Christ for today that He bought for you with His own blood? Let’s put our focus on all we have been given, which can humble our hearts to trust in areas we struggle to find peace.

3. The Gospel reminds us that even the realization of our greatest fears and anxieties are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. Until then, we learn to rely on Christ as we eagerly await that day.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the Saints in accordance with God’s will” Romans 8:22-27.

When I start feeling anxious about something I fear, like the pain of getting sick, I am learning to remind myself that the Gospel has changed not just my eternity, but every single aspect of my days on earth.

Being in Christ means that we have the Holy Spirit interceding for us. God knows our deepest fears and anxieties even more than we do. While we may be able to easily recognize the things we fear, in God’s omnipotence, He knows the things that we should fear, but don’t. Sometimes His allowing our fears and anxieties to become a reality end up being used for a far greater purpose than we can comprehend. For example, while I may fear getting sick, He cares far more that I learn to trust Him completely than whether I get temporarily sick.

Do I want to learn to trust Christ completely? Yes. Do I want to avoid getting sick to the point that I try to control the outcome of my life and inevitably not learn to trust Christ? No. But is that the way I live my life? Too often, no. Praise God, though, that I can proclaim the Gospel to myself and remember that the Holy Spirit will continue to intercede on my behalf for the things He knows are in line with God’s will, and not my own.

Finally, no matter what God does allow in our lives, we have the promise that “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:22.

This life is temporary and the groaning within us is a reminder that this is not our ultimate home. One day, every ounce of pain and heartache will be replaced with eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ.

So whatever fear or anxiety you feel pressing in on you today, will you join me in preaching the Gospel to yourself?

1. Jesus Christ trusted His Father for our sake even when we fall short.

2. Any good thing in life is an undeserved blessing that Christ bought for us through His death.

3. Finally, we have the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf in our weaknesses and we can be strengthened in the hope that any pain that does come is not worth comparing to the glory that will one day be revealed in us. 

Today, let’s take our fears and anxieties and hold them up against the light of the Gospel. True peace can only be found in Christ.

In Christ,

Sarah Walton

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