It was bedtime recently, and as we got ready for the sandman, I explained to Diane why I was worried about something. She wasn’t buying it, and yet I assured her I had reason for my worry. She just didn’t understand what I understood.
Now, I’m beginning to doubt my certainty.
Looking back, I think I was being foolish. Let me go one step further. I was being proud.
It was that insightful pastor Tim Keller who brought this out to me in a sermon on the fruit of the Spirit. Keller wrote…
Do you know how to deal with worry? Worry is arrogance. Worry is always, in the Bible, a refusal to assume a humble posture before God. In James 4 (my favorite place almost on this), verses 13 and 14, it says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city … Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”
That’s it. Anybody who worries thinks they know. Anybody who is filled with anxiety is arrogant, because you’re sure you know how things have to go. You’re sure you know what you need. You’re sure you know how history has to go. The peace that is always there … always there … is a peace based on humility, saying before God, “God, you know what I need. You know what has to happen. I don’t know. I don’t know! That’s the reason I don’t worry, because I don’t know. I’m not sure. I put myself in your hands. I’m a child. You’re my Father.”
Real peace that will never pass away (the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that’s perfect) is always connected to humility. If you’re a proud person and you have peace, it’s not real peace. It’s peace based on the fact things are going well for you. When you’re a proud person and things are going well for you, you’re actually misusing that peace because what you’re saying is, “The reason things are going well is I chose well. I’m saving. I have a good job. I got into a good school. I married a good person.”
In other words, your peace is a counterfeit peace. It is not a lasting peace. It will eventually fall apart…Real peace is always connected to humility.
Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
When I’m so certain that I have reason to worry, it’s because I am doing what James said not to do – I am looking into the future and imagining I know how everything is going to turn out…which means, in the case of worry, turning out badly. And imagining these lousy scenarios wakes me up at 3 a.m…full of anxiety. And really, it all happens because of arrogance and pride.
And then yesterday, with Keller’s insight speaking life to my soul, the Spirit brought to mind a beautiful, short Psalm I had memorized years before…
A Song of Ascents, of David. O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever. Psalm 131:1-3 (NASB)
So, I’m learning that one great key to overcoming worry is to repent of involving myself in “great matters”, to repent of looking into the future and pretending that I know.
Because I don’t.
I don’t have any certain knowledge of the future. But I do know the One who does. And I know what He said…
Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)