Anonymous guest post
I recently heard an anecdotal definition of anxiety: the feeling we get when something we love is threatened. So, what do we love? Shortly after, in an exposition of the last part of Hebrews twelve, I was impressed by the fact that God will shake the world until only the things which cannot be shaken remain.
Which begs the question, what cannot be shaken? And, in putting two and two together, I realized that this is the strength of the Christian in the face of anxiety.
There are things, the most essential things, that cannot be threatened or shaken, and we are the possessors of these things. They are sure and secure. Anxiety cannot reach us in relation to these things, and we do well to tether our affections there. The eternal, the things associated with God’s presence with us, and His kingdom for us, are beyond the reach of the enemy and the threat of the temporal.
When we focus on these things, we feel assurance rather than anxiety. When all the things that can be shaken are stripped away, and we are left with only these essentials, we realize that we are untouchable, unassailable, and utterly secure in the Lord. Hebrews 12:26-27 says:
Now he has promised. “Once more will I shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
But what of the things I love that can be shaken? What of the anxiety I feel when these shakable things are threatened?
It is helpful to remember that these things fall into the category of shakable things for a reason…they are not essential. Though we may not want to, we can live without them. The Lord gives them, and He can certainly take them away, and we can still bless his name if our affections and perspectives are anchored in His eternal and unshakable things.
But the Bible speaks to our anxieties in relation to these shakable things and encourages us to respond in a faithful, rather than a faithless, way. When we feel this anxiety, when we know there is a threat looming in relation to things we hold dear, we are told to go to God in prayer and tell Him so that His peace may rest upon us.
The faithless response is to frantically grasp for control, collapse into resignation, or muster all our resources in order to stoically endure.
In all of these responses, we rob God of caring for us as a Heavenly Father while we fold into ourselves and our own abilities to preserve what we feel we cannot live without. We can become very entitled and rage at God for not giving us the things He never promised to give us, when in fact, He actually promised to give us the opposite.
The Lord tells us to expect suffering, persecution, rejection, discomfort, and loss in relation to shakable things. Comfort, pleasure, health, etc. – these all have the potential to replace the true and lasting untouchable things and steal our affections, turning into idols.
However, He promises that in the middle of all the shaking we may be called to experience, we belong to an unshakable kingdom and He will never leave us or forsake us. This can be enough. This is peace in the storm that cannot be taken away. Philippians 4:6 reminds us:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. But there are some things that will never be taken away. Tether your affections here, and commit the rest of those shakable things in your life to the Lord.
May His eternal peace rest upon you.