Cure for Anxiety?
Mark 5:36 Do not fear, only believe.
I often use donuts symbolically in my writing to represent the destructive appetite of my flesh nature. Some do not share my appetite for donuts however (weirdos), so for them, anxiety may be a more apt representation. As it turns out, Jesus said quite a bit more about anxiety than donuts, so here, I will use anxiety as an archetypal defect of the flesh nature.
Today’s verse comes from a story in which a leader in the synagogue came to Jesus, requesting healing for his daughter. Jesus went with him, but en route, they learned of the girl’s death. In that moment of despair, Jesus told the man, Do not fear, only believe.
Jesus says that the answer to our fear and anxiety is to believe. We are to look to God in faith, taking eyes off self and focusing on the only one in the universe who can bear our burdens.
Here is the real question though. Does God then cure me of my anxiety? When I come to God, do my defects disappear? If I am a Christian, am I no longer anxious?
Many will take verses like this to mean that God automatically takes away our fear. Thus, as Christians, we are no longer anxious, right?
It is true that I am to focus on God in my defect, but this absolutely does not mean that I am delivered from it once-for-all. I am never promised that my anxiety or my appetite for donuts will be removed. Jesus just commanded that I am to turn to him as often as I am affected by the defect.
It is not my appetite for donuts that makes me gain weight. It is my donut eating. Likewise, it is not my tendency to feel anxiety that is destructive, it is how I respond to it. If I use my need to turn me to God, then my need is a good thing and God may not take it away.
The reality is, our personality defects are not transient. They do not come and go. God does not make me dislike donuts when I come to him, so pretending that I do not have this unhealthy appetite is no defense against it. Likewise, ignoring anxiety does not make it go away and acknowledging it does not mean that I am indulging in it.
It is true that we should not define ourselves by our defects. Our greater reality as Christians, is that we have an eternal spirit life which will outlast our decaying bodies. So, we have two realities that we acknowledge. I live in this defective flesh, but I keep my focus on God. Do not fear, only believe.
As often as I am tempted to indulge in my defects, I can use them to turn me to God. He frees me from slavery to my self by giving me something greater in which to trust. He can bear the burdens that I cannot. He of course, transforms me so that I do not feel the gravity of my defects as much as I used to, even though the flesh nature is never gone while I live in this body.
When I sow the seeds of God in me, He grows life and diminishes the flesh. The answer to my defects is not to pretend they do not exist. The answer is to use them to turn me to God. Do not fear, only believe.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.