Facing Anxiety with the Dread of God
A quick search on ways to ease anxiety will produce common results: focus on what you can control; exercise deep breathing; and practice self-care. While opinions on this subject vary, it is widely accepted genetics, chemistry, trauma, or a combination, are contributing factors to the anxiety many experience today. Our Creator is glorified any time we trust in him through the prayerful treatment of the spirit, mind, and body.
Below, we are specifically considering anxiety of the spirit. The ways of the kingdom of God are often not expected. While a healthy lifestyle, medical, and self-care are valuable tools, the Bible says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The apostle Peter couples casting anxiety upon the Lord with the act of humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. The prescription many of us may have unwittingly overlooked in our pursuit for peace is to embrace the magnificence and potency of the dread of God; we've never been gripped by the greatness of God.
The Lord is to be feared. This fear is spiritually healthy. For the believer, this is not a fear of punishment, but a fear based upon the awe and wonder of who he is, his power, and majesty. Living in the fear of God produces peace in our relationships, peace with God, peace within our heart, and peace that comes from walking in the Spirit.
Consider the Israelites after being delivered from Egypt, they were gripped with anxiety. They grumbled, complained, and accused the man who led them out of slavery of plotting their demise. Anxiety had a hold. After begrudgingly following Moses through the desert and experiencing challenges, they reached Mount Sinai. Moses went up to speak with the Lord. Upon the prophet's return, he conveyed to the people the Lord’s message. They quickly responded, “we will do everything the Lord has said.” This time the Lord had different news for Moses, the people should prepare for the Lord to visit them. For two days everyone in the camp had to wash themselves and their clothes. On the third day, the Lord descended and they heard his voice for themselves.
The author of Hebrews described the event and applied it, “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them…the sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’”
Mount Sinai had been wrapped in smoke as the Lord descended upon it in fire and the whole mountain trembled greatly. The earthly event foreshadowed the future. When the Lord shakes the heavens and earth all that will remain will be his unshakable kingdom. God is eternal. The Scripture concludes with the resounding statement, "...our God is a consuming fire."
The Lord has always desired to personally engage with mankind; however, as this account shows and Peter reminded us, we must relate to him on his terms. There is no other way to the Father, but through faith in his Son. The commandments provided on Sinai revealed the righteous character and power of God. We are unable to keep the commandments due to our fallen nature. By grace, through repentance and faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we may become children of God. Just as Christ rose from the dead, we too can experience resurrection life as we confess him as Lord.
To fear the Lord above all may be the first step to true peace a person can experience. The Holy Father, provided the gift of his Son as a sacrifice to quench the just atonement demanded in order for us to be reconciled to him. Embracing the truth that the Lord Almighty has chosen for us to take refuge in the grace of his Son is our greatest source of comfort when anxieties are stirred in our hearts. Because Christ is head over all things, we can only find genuine peace from anxiety when fear of losing our life intersects with his sacrifice upon the cross. Utterly helpless on our own, the Lord has settled our salvation once and for all through the grace of His Son. Will you find rest through faith in Him today?
Proverbs 9:10; 1 Peter 5:6; 1 John 4:18; Hebrews 12; Exodus 17 & 19; Romans 5:8; 1 John 2:2.