The Death of Anxiety
T.D. Higgins is a member of Reformed Baptist Church of Elizabethtown, KY
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom. 8:28-29)
Anxiety is a common thread of the fallen human condition. Regardless of your political leanings, your skin color, or your age, we have all struggled with this great Dragon called Anxiety. We read, of course, those words in the Gospel of Matthew when the Lord Jesus tells us not to be anxious. We try in all sincerity to heed his command and trust in his sweet promises, yet this Dragon continues to arise and assail us. It threatens to rob us of joy and leads us to doubt our Savior and Lord. As we exit a year full of pandemics and political upheavals (not only in the United States, but also abroad), I think it will be helpful to consider how we might slay this great enemy of our souls.
Romans 8.28-29 is no doubt very familiar to most of us. Here Paul lays out the golden chain of redemption as a prelude to his doxology of the great love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord from which nothing can separate us. While it is certainly true that contemplating this love of God toward us is comforting beyond all language, that is not where I want to draw the focus in this article. Instead, I want us to consider the purpose of our calling. The apostle states that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." We must consider, then, what is that purpose. It is nothing less than "to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
It is the purpose of God that Christ should be the inheritor of a people, a people called out of darkness and into light, a people who are re-made in the perfect image of the Son of God. Just as God in the first creation made Adam and Eve in his image, so in the New Creation he is re-making his people into the image of his Son. This is why we are redeemed. This is why we are foreknown, and predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified. Thus, God works out all things according to his perfectly wise providence to conform us to the image of Christ, that we might be pleasing unto him.
This is the great sword with which we may slay that Dragon Anxiety. Every event that occurs in time and space ("all things'') is ordered by God to bring about this great purpose. This means that every death of a loved one, every pandemic, every election that goes awry, all of it is designed to conform the saints to the image of Christ. This is our greatest good: to be made like Christ so that we are able to glorify God and enjoy him forever perfectly. So every dark providence that comes our way should not lead us to worry, but to praise God that he is making us like our Lord Jesus. This is the mindset that we must develop. When we begin to look at the events of our life as steps in this great work of God, then we are able to trust in his sovereignty. The light providences and the dark providences both are the tools of God to mold us and form us, to purge us of the old man that we might put on the new. So what, then, is there to worry about in this life? Whether I starve or eat, whether I live under communism or capitalism, whether I am free or enslaved, God is working to conform me to the image of Christ that I might be pleasing unto him. As we enter into this new year, let us strive to put on this mindset, and mortify the anxiety of our flesh.