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Transform Anxiety, Fear And Anger
Living In The Spirit Of Faith, Hope And Love
There exists an ancient spiritual truth that is validated by modern psychiatry today. If you do not have a place to park your anxiety, fear or anger, you are prone to project it upon others. Misdirected anxiety, fear or anger is the inevitable byproduct of dissension—it eventually breeds mistrust and abuse among people. If left untreated, it ultimately leads to partisan factions, wholesale divisions, and even the possibility of war.
Some of us are anxious for colleagues, friends and loved ones that we fear are in harm’s way. We don’t rightly know how they will respond. Will the person take kindly to constructive criticism? Are all the facts in before facing the accused? Will this action permanently damage relationships? Our anxiety, fear and anger are the culprits that trigger these questions and apprehensions.
Dealing With Anxiety, Fear, And Anger
First, anxiety has the tendency to bring about misguided understandings, false assumptions or biased positions. We will most likely experience this if we approach the person with a judgmental attitude: “I am right and the person is wrong.” Though we may express a genuine care and concern for an individual, these feelings can easily eclipse into a spirit of manipulation and mistreatment. In our desperation, we prescribe all sorts of measures that we deem fit to remedy the problem and restore the relationship. And when we feel that the individual is not responding in the manner we expect, we nurse an anxious heart that leads to an unfounded fear, eventually translating into open anger. In truth, we have unconsciously projected these unhealthy feelings of anxiety, fear or anger upon an individual thereby causing a major breach in the relationship.
Second, we need to note that we live in a fearful world. We are surrounded and inundated by fear: fear of worldwide financial collapse, fear of losing everything, fear of being found out, fear of the unknown. Fear is especially threatening to peace and ones peace of mind. It is fear, not hate, that stands in opposition to love. The inhabitants of the earth have been feeding in the trough of fear throughout the ages. It is, in fact, the all-consuming illness of our time. It distorts our sense of reality. It devours our energies and thoughts. What we fear controls us. In an atmosphere of fear, it is hard to love.
Third, due to the seed of anxiety and root of fear, anger has blossomed in many forms. It has pitted brother against brother and nation against nation. Anger is the rogue agent. If allowed to operate undetected, it manifests itself in a malignant endemic that threatens to damage and destroy any semblance of friendship and goodwill between people. The foreign and domestic news plainly attest to this fact: questionable threats, painful betrayals, failed negotiations, violent coups. We are a divided world and nearly everyone is angry.
Unless we deal constructively with our anxiety, fear and anger, we will continue to project it upon other human beings and add to the world’s woeful condition. We will unwittingly perpetuate this treacherous cycle instead of healing it. Unfortunately, we all deal with our anxiety, fear and anger by blaming others and creating enemies. In the Genesis account, Adam blamed Eve for causing him to sin, Eve blamed the serpent for tricking her into sin, and we could only imagine how the serpent blamed God for the whole creative mess He got them into (Gen 3:12-13). It’s so much simpler to point fingers at one another rather than having to face the pain and admit that we are part of the problem. In the hope of feeling better about ourselves, we become bitter in the process.
For Christians—sinful people living in a fallen world—thank God He did not deal with us through anxiety, fear and anger, but healed us through faith, hope and love. At the end of a long list of spiritual gifts for the building up of God’s church on earth, the Apostle Paul summed it up with our need of three great theological virtues: faith, hope and love (1 Cor 13:1-13).
Dying Thru Faith, Hope, And Love
We need faith. Faith brings us to a place where we can trust that God is working in our lives and that He will always prevail. Faith is the assurance hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1). It is through faith that we believe God can bring unpredictable good out of every possibility—the swords into plowshares, the cross into a crown (Isa 2:4; Col 2:15). “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28). Faith causes us to trust that God, and only God, is truly powerful. This true and ultimate authority always overcomes mere force—it unseats the misuse or abuse of power. We need faith that deeply trusts God. Cast all your anxiety on God, because he cares for you (1 Pet 5:7).
We need hope. It is hope that can liberate us from the bondage of fear. Hope in the form of unrealistic expectations would only disappoint and drive the nail deeper into the untreated festering wound. Expectations are only the projection of our wishes and solutions to the present problem. Expectations fueled by fear almost always ignites into some form of misconstrued acts of unkindness, hate or even violence. We ought to rather hope in God; a God who can transform an ordered world out of a chaotic darkness, a saint out of a sinner, a peacemaker out of a bully, the beloved Apostle Paul out of the feared Pharisee Saul. When we fall into the grip of fear, we need to free ourselves from its infectious hold allowing hope to rest in the new possibilities that only God can create.
We need love. Clothe yourself in God’s garment of love. Not just any love but the divine fabric of unconditional agape love—a perfect love that covers our sinful nakedness and casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18). God is perfect love. No one can receive perfect love from a human source. Apart from God’s presence, we will be doomed to find love in all the wrong places. God loves us all perfectly, infinitely, without qualification or reservation. If we choose to bask in God’s acceptance and love in spite of our fallen state, we will fear no more.
Take your anxiety, fear and anger, and instead of hurling it at your child, spouse, friend or co-worker—or even yourself through bouts of stress or depression—surrender your anxiety and your fear and your anger at the foot of the cross of Christ. On the cross, God displays for all to see, what divine love does with our hurt, hate and violence. The cross soaks it up, like the curses hurled at Christ or the nails driven through his hands and feet, and does not give it back. In Jesus, God absorbs all our anxiety, fear and anger and instead of lashing out in holy wrath and vengeance, He does something wholly unpredictable—God brings resurrection. He delivers us from the death. We die to the bitterness of anxiety, fear and anger and rise into a newness of life. Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). In this case, Christ invites all would-be followers to die to their anxiety, fear and anger. In dying, God takes all the human ugliness we can dish out. He willingly accepts, absorbs, and nails it upon the cross of His Son. The fruit of forgiveness is the only thing that the planted cross upon Golgotha can bear. It was watered with his blood having been buried in a tomb. On the third day it bloomed into a resurrection faith that overcame anxiety attacks, a resurrection hope that overshadowed fearful feelings, and a resurrection love that overpowered hate and anger. The redeemed experienced the faith, hope and love of a resurrected life in Jesus Christ.
If we can place all our pent up anxiety, fear and anger upon the cross of Christ, we can live in peace as people of faith, people of hope, people of love. If we fail to surrender these diabolic instruments of division and death, we are likely to add to the sum of suffering and destruction in the world. If you want to help heal rather than harm the world—if you want to serve in the kingdom of God—become a person of faith, a person of hope, a person of love. When you choose to carry your cross and follow Christ, you literally soak up all the anxiety, fear and anger that are thrown your way. And instead of projecting back your anxiety, your fear, your anger, cast it all on the cross of Christ. In fact, nail it there along with all the personal pain, suffering or disgrace you experienced for the good of your accuser or enemy. And the only good that ought to drip down from the cross and spill over to those who hurt or harmed you is forgiveness and reconciliation wrought by the blood, sweat and tears of our Lord and Savior.
Although fallen, this world is still a beautiful place as long as we live in the infinite love and presence of God. Jesus dwelt among us in the company of his heavenly Father. Don’t get sucker-punched by the fascination of evil and getting even. Don’t fight the dragon, lest you become the dragon. Don’t be seduced by the dark side through the unholy forces of anxiety, fear and anger. These are temporal things that will pass away at the return of our King and the end of evil, as we know it. Live in the Spirit and remain faithful during these difficult times. Endure to the end in the Spirit of faith, hope and love. “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13).
Copyright 2009, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.
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