“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…”
In a recent edition of Tabletalk, the monthly devotional magazine of Ligonier Ministries, a number of pastors and theologians combined their skills to produce a collection of fictional letters entitled “Letters from the Abyss.” These letters follow the pattern of C.S. Lewis’s famous work, The Screwtape Letters, with senior demons providing their young apprentices with advice on how to ensnare believers in sin and frustrate their effectiveness for Christ. The purpose of both The Screwtape Letters and “Letters from the Abyss” is to help believers avoid ignorance of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11) and successfully resist his schemes (Eph. 6:10-18).
I found the following letter on anxiety by Chris Larson to be especially applicable for us as women. The more quickly we realize that our anxious thoughts are not of God, the more quickly we can submit to the Lord, resist the devil, and see him flee (James 4:7).
[Remember that in this letter “the enemy” refers to God.]
What?! You’re worried because your subject is worried? You seem to think that his fretful concern and persistent questioning will lead him to find answers with the enemy. Let us reassure you that such is rarely the outcome. The more these humans wallow in gnawing uncertainty and narrow-mindedness, the more they will come to resemble our cowering condition instead of patient confidence in the enemy’s will.
They call it “anxiety,” and you would think it’s a virtue they cultivate as often as possible. Lest they repent and grow closer to the enemy, do not let them understand anxiety as a link to that ancient sin of their first father, Adam; namely, that of pride. Oh, how we delight in that triumph of our father below! It is still so hard to believe we convinced Adam that he actually needed something more than what he had been given by the enemy. Ah, the cosmic treason is even now so delectable to our memory!
But I digress. Let this Christian confuse anxiety with sober-mindedness. Convince him that he is being diligent and careful, that it is others who are not being wise. Suggest to him a name for this: let’s tell him that he is being “realistic.” Give him an illusion of control, thinking he can manipulate circumstances so as to remove all trouble. Indeed, let him think he is better than lilies and sparrows, fretting about to add one more day to his short life. Oh, yes, keep him busy in worry and let him think that he hasn’t yet worried enough (the way humans second-guess themselves is particularly humorous to watch). Thus will anxiety’s cycle perpetuate itself, with very little involvement from you. We should mention in passing how helpful anxiety is to our cause, since people can be so preoccupied with this or that worry and effectually neglect a whole host of duties and care for others.
Relish his refusal to know what we know. Indeed, our situation is in the greatest peril when once our subject begins to focus outside of himself. The enemy wants His people to rest, even to be still, trusting that He cares. In fact, even we’re worried at times because we still haven’t come up with an effective countermeasure to the promises the enemy makes.
[Tabletalk, February 2011, p. 9]
Photo: Robert Radermacher