The opposite of trust in God is anxiety or frustration. When we say to someone “don’t worry” or “don’t be afraid,” we are trying to speak encouragement to that person, Bridges says. But when Jesus, Paul or Peter say “don’t be anxious,” it’s a moral command – in other words, anxiety is sin. Bridges says that it is sin for two reasons – first, because it is a distrust of God and second, because it is a lack of acceptance of God’s sovereign will or providence in our lives.
I know that often I focus on the here-and-now when I get anxious or worrisome or restless when instead I need to turn to God’s promises that speak to his sovereignty and power over every circumstance. So often do I lose sight of the fact that God’s will is infinitely better than my plans or my desires. John Newton wrote 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.” In other words, a lack of conscious reflection on this truth results in impatience, stress, worry, complaints, and even resentment and bitterness – all forms of sin.
How much do I need God to give me a submissive heart and will when it comes to the plans for my life, and even in day-to-day circumstances. I especially struggle with this when thinking about my future, and not knowing what is in store for me. Even in the day-to-day circumstances with papers, finals, work, and other things, I struggle with anxiety and stress. In those situations, Bridges says to bring to mind scripture that speaks to these situations (Philippians 4:6, Matthew 10:31, Matthew 6:25-34), and to pray – not only for a godly response and wisdom in dealing with the situation, but also asking God to show me what I need to learn from the situation.
An example of this from my family is forever etched in my memory. When my mom was giving birth to my older brother (I obviously wasn’t there), it was a bad situation, and their health and life was “up in the air” so to speak. But instead of being scared or anxious, my mom took my dad’s hand, looked him in the eye, and quoted Psalm 139:16 – “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Though the outlook was in question by human standards, God proved sovereign, and he brought my mom and brother through.