Respectable Anxiety

Respectable SinsFor my birthday, I asked for a book several friends had recommended—and I’m so glad I did. Lately, I’ve become rather impressed with this little book (187 pages). Because each chapter is topical, focusing on a specific sin, I’ve been first going to the chapters that address areas I know are a struggle for me.

The book is Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend you go get a copy. Now and then you may find me referring to it here because that’s how impressed I am with it—and how much it has stirred my thinking about several key areas of my life. And how I love passing on its truths to others.

Yesterday, I was reading the chapter about anxiety and frustration and came across this wonderful quotation from John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace.”

“[One of the marks of Christian Maturity which a believer should seek is] an acquiescence in the Lord’s will founded in a persuasion of His wisdom, holiness, sovereignty and goodness. . . . So far as we can attain this, we are secure from disappointment. Our own limited views, and shortsighted purposes and desires, may be, and will be, often over-ruled; but then our main and leading desire, that the will of the Lord be done, must be accomplished. How highly does it become us, both as creatures and as sinners, to submit to the appointment of our maker! and how necessary is it to our peace! This great attainment is too often unthought of, and over looked; we are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate instruments of events; forgetting that whatever befalls us is according to his purpose, and therefore must be right and seasonable in itself, and shall in the issue be productive of good. From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret repinings [i.e., complaining], which are not only sinful but tormenting; whereas, if all things are in his hand, if the very hairs of our head are numbered; if every event, great and small, is under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient;-then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as he leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue. . . . How happy are they who can resign all to Him, see His hand in every dispensation and believe that He chooses better for them than they possibly could for themselves!”

Wow. Convicting words. Bridges writes, “Anxiety is a sin . . . because it is a lack of acceptance of God’s providence in our lives. God’s providence may be simply defined as God’s orchestrating all circumstances and events in His universe for His glory and the good of His people. Some believers have difficulty accepting the fact that God does in fact orchestrate all events and circumstances, and even those of us who do believe it often lose sight of this glorious truth. Instead we tend to focus on the immediate causes of our anxiety rather than remembering that those immediate causes are under the sovereign control of God” (pp. 64-65, emphasis mine).

Ouch. How often I fret about things that feel so out of my control. Just yesterday I had to take my car to the shop to have the front brakes redone (had no idea what the problem was). At the same time, I still have a printer on the blink. And who knows what’s going to break tomorrow?

Do these types of “random” events in life frustrate you? They certainly frustrate me and cause unwanted anxiety . . . but that’s only because I’m missing the bigger picture. They aren’t random. God has orchestrated these events for my good. God, forgive me for my faithless attitude.

What about you? Do you struggle this way too?

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