Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thinking Biblically About Worry, II of V

Worry and the fallen world

Perhaps your answer to the questions I have asked is, "Paul, I worry because I live in a fallen world!" It is true that the world we live in simply does not operate in the way that the Creator intended. Because of this we do live in a world where deceit, danger, and disappointment are realities. The Bible is quite honest in its depiction of how broken this world actually is. There are things in this world that you should fear. There are things that should get your attention and cause you concern. There are things that you should work to avoid and protect your loved ones from. You should live carefully and aware. Living with the realistic expectations that a biblical understanding of the fallenness of our world provides is a responsibly godly thing to do. You should not be naive. This side of heaven, you must always remember that the shalom (peace and wholeness) that the Creator made has been shattered. Everyday, somehow, someway, the brokenness of your world will press in on you. It will be this way until you cross over to the other side.

But, an important distinction needs to be made between looking at life through the honest lens of Scripture and living a life of subtle and not-so-subtle worry. In the Bible we are confronted with the reality that in situations where God's people were experiencing some of the harshest realities of life in a fallen world, they experienced, in those moments, some of the most remarkable rest of soul that the Bible records. Let me provide for you one powerful example.

Psalms 3 and 4 are morning and evening psalms, written when David was fleeing for his life and from those who would take his throne. You know the back story. It was David's son Absalom who was out after his throne. He had already won the hearts of the people of Israel, and now he was after his father's kingdom. David knew what this was about. This was a monarchy: for a son to permanently take his father's throne, the father would have to die. So, David flees for his life with a small band of loyal men and is hiding in a cave. Perhaps there is no more heart-wrenching story in Scripture: sin ripping a family apart, sin resulting in sedition and possibly death. In this story, you're seeing the fallen world at its worst. But in the middle of it all, David isn't paralyzed by panic. He isn't driven by worry. He isn't captivated by the "what ifs." No, David is remarkably restful Look at what he writes from the cave: "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8). David is experiencing the full weight of the disappointment and danger of life in this fallen world, but he is not riddled with anxiety. His heart is at rest and his body is able to sleep, even in the middle of what would break the heart of any father.

David's story and David's psalm confront us with something important. It is what we will be unpacking for the rest of this article. Here it is: The difficulties of life in this fallen world are the occasion of our worry, but not the cause. To understand the cause, you have to look deeper. David was in a circumstance that could be the occasion for much worry, yet he was not fearful or anxious. His rest points us to where help for our worry can be found. Worry is not caused by what exists outside of us. No, worry is caused by what is going on inside of us.
~Article by Paul David Tripp

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