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3 TENSIONS WE NEED TO MANAGE TO GROW TRUST & DIMINISH WORRY

No amount of money will ease all of your anxieties if you leave trusting God out of the equation.

Jesus said worry chokes the life out of what He’s planted in us. And elsewhere He commanded us: “Do not worry, saying ‘what shall we eat/drink/wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things (food/drink/clothing) will be given to you as well.”

If you’ve been a Jesus-follower for any length of time, these words of Christ are probably familiar. You may have even heard a message or two on these scriptures. You’ve probably had a front row seat to times of miraculous provision since you started walking with Him. So why does worry still attack us like seagulls on a French fry? Why does anxiety keeping rearing its ugly head and threaten to choke the life out of us? Even when we’ve experienced firsthand God meeting our needs, why does worry keep knocking at our doorstep?

Unchecked anxiety and worry can lead to a lot of problems, one of them being greed. Andy Stanley writes: “People with greed lodged in their hearts fear that God either can’t or won’t take care of them. They’re afraid God won’t take care of them in the fashion or style they want to be cared for. So greedy people shoulder the burden to acquire and maintain everything they need to provide the sense of security they desire. But therein lies the problem: there’s never enough.

So . . . is it possible to live without worry controlling us? Is the battle with anxiety winnable? Can we grow trust and diminish worry? Yes, yes, and yes. Here are three tensions we need to manage if we want trust to grow:

Needs vs. wants

Notice Jesus didn’t promise His Father would give us everything we want, even if we put Him first in our life. He promised if we put God’s kingdom and His righteousness as our first priority, He would give us everything we need. We tend to get wants and needs mixed up. After walking with Jesus for over forty-four years, I can legitimately say He’s always provided food/drink/clothes/shelter. No question about it. He’s even provided some wants, although He’s said no to some wants as well (always with my good/safety in mind). He’s even changed some of my wants. Asking yourself: “Is this a need or a want?” and then answering that question honestly (you may need the aid of an objective third party sometimes to answer the question honestly) will help you manage the tension between needs and wants.

Doubt vs. faith

Occasional doubt hits every Jesus-follower. Let’s use John the Baptist as an example. John was one of the most important characters in Scripture, a guy who experienced an amazing “God-moment” when he baptized Jesus (the heavens opened, and John heard the audible voice of God the Father speaking). John was also Jesus’ cousin. Sometime after his incredible experience at Jesus’ baptism, John was unfairly tossed into jail by Herod. While sitting in prison, he apparently became so despondent that he directed his followers to ask Jesus: “Are you the one to come? Or should we expect another?” How does someone who’s had such a rich history of experience with Jesus get to that level of despair? I guess the more important question is, how do we who’ve had a rich history with Jesus get to that level of despair? I think one reason is our forgetter often works better than our rememberer.  Which leads to our third tension:

Remembering vs. forgetting

Forgetting can be a good thing. The apostle Paul wrote: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on . . .” There are experiences from our past we need to forget and to let go of: Unkind words spoken to us; dismissive behavior from those we thought cared about us; even past failures. But too often we remember those negative events more than we remember the good stuff.

Remember is an important word. It’s used over 200 times in the Bible—both in the context of God remembering and us remembering. What things are we encouraged to remember?

  • “Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles…”
  • “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.”
  • “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done.”

I use a journal to record answered prayers, unexpected provision, and times when God came through as only He can. A major reason these go into the journal is to help my rememberer. It’s easy to forget what we should remember, isn’t it?

Francis Chan writes: “Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.”

No amount of money will ease all of your anxieties if you leave trusting God out of the equation.

Developing trust isn’t a straight line. There are ups and downs, twists and turns, times of immovable faith, and moments of unsettling doubt. Distinguishing between needs and wants, understanding occasional doubt is okay, and becoming more intentional about remembering your history with God will grow trust and diminish doubts.

I’m rooting and praying for you!

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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