My jaw is tense. My muscles are tight. My stomach is unsettled. I cannot relax. My mind races because my to-do list is not done. I feel that I must prepare myself for anything that might happen in the future. I fear what I cannot control. I am afraid of negative past experiences recurring in the future. I feebly try to grab onto the hope of God’s Word, but my circumstances are towering over me. I am too overwhelmed, and the things I am facing seem bigger than my God. I grit my teeth and grab the reins. This is the life of anxiety.
Anxiety is sin. It is the response to my lack of trust in God. It means that I have shoved the King off the throne of my heart because I think my control will be more effective than His. The solution: I need to put God back on the throne and wholly trust His promises. Only the control of the sovereign God will wash away my anxiousness to be replaced with His perfect peace.
In Frances Havergal’s devotional book, My King, or Daily Thoughts for the King’s Children, she talks about what it means to rest on the word of the King. “The word of our King is all we have and all we need for deep, utter heart-rest, which no surface waves of this troublesome world can disturb… Every flutter of unrest may, if we look honestly into it, be traced to not entirely and absolutely taking the King’s word. His words are enough for rest at all times, and in all circumstances; therefore we are sinning the great sin of unbelief whenever we allow ourselves in any phase of unrest. It is not infirmity, but sin, to neglect to make use of the promises which He meant for our strong consolation and continual help (Hebrews 6:18)… Have we not sometimes found God’s promises to be true, and if so, why not always? I see nothing about ‘sometimes’ in any of His promises.”
Another day’s reading, titled “The Sceptre of the King,” has brought sweet encouragement in my struggle with anxiety. What is the sceptre? Used by ruling kings, it represented justice and mercy. Esther 4:11 describes it this way: “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden sceptre so that he may live.”
There is a sense of separation from the king’s inner court here. Not just anyone was welcome. Approaching the king without an invitation meant death – unless the king held out the golden sceptre. Then, it is held out as a sign of sovereign mercy, allowing the person to live. To someone who does not trust in Christ as his Savior, the King’s sceptre is for justice. Unrepentant sinners are not welcome in the holy places of our God. But to those who have been cleansed and washed by the blood of Christ, we are welcome!
Havergal writes, “And oh, how ‘sweet is Thy mercy’! And just because of the justice, how ‘sure’! (Isaiah 55:3) Esther said, ‘If I perish, I perish.’ So need not we, ‘for His mercy endureth for ever’ (Psalm 136:1). And so, every time we come into the audience chamber of our King, we know that the golden sceptre will be held out to us, first, ‘that we may live,’ and then for favour after favour. ‘ Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16). Not stand afar off and think about it, and keep our King waiting; but, like Esther, ‘let us draw near’ and ‘touch the top of the sceptre’ (Hebrews 10:22).”
I began to think more about God’s mercy. Using a concordance, I came across Psalm 23:6, the last verse of the Shepherd Psalm – the last verse, which I have never taken notice of: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
God’s goodness and mercy follow me. Everywhere I go throughout today, I can be sure that God is sovereign, He is good, and He is merciful.
Goodness follows me into the future. An anxious heart is worried about the unknown, what might happen. But I can be free from anxiety because I know that God will work all things for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Trusting His wise provision, I will be blessed.
Mercy follows me into the future. His mercies are new every morning and never come to an end (Lamentations 3:22). Even though I still struggle with sin daily, God’s mercy is ever constant to heal my relationship with Him. He is always my God who delights in me. I have no cause for worry or fear because God’s presence will always dwell here with me.
I am forever forgiven, loved, and blessed! As this truth sank into my heart, I felt the anxiety melt away. It was replaced with a deep security and a peace. I do not need to fear.
But the struggle is daily. I still get tense and overwhelmed. There is always something I could be anxious about, but there is never anything I need to be anxious about. I can let go of trying to control and instead lean on God’s control. I can relax in His perfect wisdom and leadership. I can trust that He will prepare me and give me the strength I need for every circumstance. When I approach my King’s Throne of grace, I know His golden sceptre will always be held out to me. I will live, and my requests will be heard. Goodness follows me. Mercy follows me. The presence of the holy God follows me. And His promises always remain. This is the life of perfect peace.