Is it Possible to be Without Anxiety?

None of us who have believed that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him can ever doubt His love to us; but we may easily treat that love as though it had only secured future blessing for us and was entirely indifferent as to our present welfare; as though it leaves us to struggle with the burdens and difficulties of life and comes only to our aid when at last, wearied in spirit and body, we lay ourselves down to die. A Christian might not care to express it quite as plainly as that, for to do so would disclose a rebellious heart, and yet the thought is often present, and it makes itself articulate in the frenzied efforts put forth to do "the best one can for oneself," and in the depression and anxiety so prevalent amongst many who are intelligent as to Christian doctrines and sure of heaven at last.

When surrounded by material prosperity it is easy to talk of being without anxiety, but that talk is mere sanctimonious cant if we become immediately burdened with care when the easy days are compelled to give ground before the steady advance of grim and heartless adversity. And we do well to test ourselves and to inquire whether we are ready for the great trial; whether our resources are equal to the conflict, and whether God is able and willing to carry us through or not. If He cares for us, then He is enough for any and every day, if He does not we are in a worse plight than those who do not know Him.

Take the present state of things: Christian men cannot resist authority; they must be subject to the powers that be "for conscience sake" and for "the Lord's sake" (Rom. 13:5; 1 Peter 2:13). And subjection threatens for many of military age the break-up for the time being of their home life. It threatens a period of hardship for them, and a great burden cast upon the shoulders of the wives and dependents left behind; for in addition to the anxiety for the safety of their men folk there is the upkeep of the home and the care of the children, possibly on reduced resources. These are no trifles, and where the grace of God flowing into the life has made the human sensibilities the keener they will be the more sharply felt. These are realities, and this is a grave crisis, and to meet them something more is needed than empty theories and fair weather theology.

Would it not be an immense relief to all in these circumstances, or in any others that make demands upon us, if they knew that divine love had not only provided for their everlasting felicity, but that God Himself — even the Father — was taking a personal, constant, and minute interest in each individual case? Would not such knowledge, if it were the deep conviction of the soul, bring a great peace into the life and drive away dull care? We know that it would.

Now to assure us of this God has taken infinite pains in His sure and holy Word; it is bright with many faithful sayings in regard to it, and beautiful with many concrete cases in which His perfect care for those who trust Him is illustrated, but nothing can be more conclusive and convincing in regard to it than the life of our Lord Jesus on earth.

Let us consider, then, how the Lord Jesus acted in regard to the matters domestic, and the general needs of those whom He loved as shown us in the Gospel of John. In that Gospel, be it remembered, He comes forth as the Word, who was with God, and who was God — the great Creator of the universe become flesh for our blessing, and in that same Gospel He said: "He that has seen Me has seen the Father."

Is it not, then, most worthy of note and full of comfort to all who need comfort, that in this Gospel, and this alone, He is shown to us as a guest at a wedding, rejoicing with those that rejoice? and is it not equally significant that in this Gospel, and this alone, He is also shown to us weeping with the bereaved sisters at the grave of their dead brother? The wedding is the beginning of the home life, and may represent its most joyous period; the sealed grave is the close and the breakup of it, the darkest day of all. And the Lord, who came to earth to show to us the Father, was at both; and is there a day between the two when He is absent? No. He has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," and that, be it noted, again in connection with the home life (Heb. 13:4-6).

There are profound depths of spiritual meaning in these two incidents, and we should certainly seek these, but in doing so do not let us miss that that lies clear and plain upon the surface. Jesus, who was the Creator, the only-begotten Son of God, the revealer of the Father, associated Himself with His own in the joys and sorrows of their home life. Perish the thought that we may only know His presence at the meetings for prayer or worship, that He only connects Himself with what are known as religious services. If this were all, then our religion were artificial and dead, and our Lord useless to us in this present stress, and scarcely of more value than the dumb idols of the heathen. But He comes into the home life when He is allowed, comes in all the plenitude of an inexhaustible grace, rejoicing if we rejoice, and Himself becoming the source of a joy that earthly circumstances cannot yield; and standing by us in days of stress and sorrow, to sympathize with and support the heart that looks to Him. How near this brings Him to us; how real it makes Him; how tender and accessible it shows Him to be.

If this is the case, and only those who do not know the Lord will deny it, then all that we have to do is to bring our need to His notice. At the wedding in Cana and at the sorrowing home in Bethany this was done, and it was not done in vain. So that we would say to all who are affected by the present state of things, make your need known to Him — present your case before the Father, whom He was here revealing, and if in His love and wisdom He sees that it be for the blessing of you and yours, and for His glory, He will certainly order things so that you may still abide in the place where you are. If, on the other hand, He permits your nest to be disturbed, and you to be flung into new conditions of life, you may accept this as His will for you, quietly and confidently. He will not permit you to be overburdened, not a feather's weight more than you are able to bear joyfully will be put upon you, and though you may be reduced as to material comforts you will be greatly enlarged in the knowledge of Himself — who is the Lord Almighty, and who has said: "I will be a Father to you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters" (2 Cor. 6:18). Thus will you prove for yourself that it is possible to be without anxiety.

One other incident from this precious Gospel must suffice. In chapter 21 the disciples set out to do the best they could for themselves without direction from their Lord, and weary work it was, for they toiled all night, and cold and hungry bodies and disappointed hearts were the only results of the labours. But when they turned their eyes to their Lord, who stood in the rosy light of the morning upon the shore, they discovered that He had not forgotten them: THEY WERE COLD, He knew it, and so had gathered coals and made a fire at which they could warm themselves. THEY WERE HUNGRY, He knew it, and so had prepared them a breakfast of fish and bread for their need. Their faithlessness had made them FEARFUL AND ASHAMED, He knew it, and so invited them to sit down before Him, and made them quite at home by His grace, while He gave to them the food that those precious pierced hands had prepared for them.

And He is the same, yesterday and today and for ever.