The Sovereign God In An Anxious World

Taken from my recent presentation for Porterbrook on the book “Bible Truth In A Missional Perspective”

I believe this doctrine is incredibly prevalent in our day, whether as a missionary over seas or a pastor in a local church here in America; all peoples everywhere are anxious. There is no where that this is more true though than in our own country of the United States, so this is where I will focus. To start let us look to what the Bible has to say on the matter. This is a story where Jesus’ disciples are with Him but face a life threatening situation,  causing their faith to truly be put to the test:

“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another,’Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'”

– Mark 4:35-41

If you are like me, at some time in your life you have read this and thought “What a bunch of fools! These guys were with Jesus himself and still did not believe in His power”. But have we not also seen Jesus?! We may not have seen Him in the flesh as the disciples did, but in some form or another we have witnessed the person of Jesus in our lives; otherwise we would probably not believe what we believe. How much more then do we doubt His goodness and power in the much smaller things of every day life? We unfortunately are stuck in this very same boat with the disciples, and with every human who has ever lived for that matter.

In America we pride ourselves in our innovation and technological superiority, which has greatly benefited the forward progress of our society. But with this progress also comes regression. Regression away from our need and dependency on other people, and certainly  away from our need for any sort of higher power who is omnipotent and in control of all things. Just about anything you can think of wanting is now one click away, or if not, there is at least an app for it. More and more we are seeing individuals turn away from the idea of community and family, and living lives of solitary and loneliness. But there is something deep within us that longs for a sense of belonging. In our loneliness we also lose our sense of security and certainty for tomorrow. We hoard our wealth and drive away relationships to protect ourselves in worry of what the future holds.

I have had the privilege of spending time overseas in third-world countries, living among people who we might consider to be impoverished or who have very little. I have never met a people though that know the truth of gratitude  and trust in God’s power and provision more than these. They may live in houses smaller than some of our storage units, and they may consume less food in a year than we may have in our pantry on any given day; but these people know and believe that God is going to provide what they need for them, and they worship Him for it with all they have, every day. I hope and pray that this is as humbling for you as it has been for me in our material driven world.

Our worry is completely counter-gospel though. The good news tells us that we have nothing to worry about, for Christ has already gone before us and conquered all things! In John 16:33, Jesus says this: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. There is nothing that we can face in this life that Jesus has not already overcome for us. And even more, Jesus promises to endure those things with us. So why do we worry? To answer this we have to look at our own hearts and the beliefs we hold in them. If we do not believe that God truly is great and all powerful, then we do not trust that He is in control. This causes us to worry about the world around us. If we do not believe that God truly is good, just, loving, and compassionate, then we do not trust that He knows our needs and has our best intentions in mind. This causes us to worry about the world within us. To remove fear and anxiety from our lives we need to in-our-hearts worship the Creator and Sustainer of all things as the good, perfect, and great God that He is!

I love this excerpt from the end of this unit, and I feel like it really well portrays this truth:

Often we need to hold together the truths that God is great and God is good. Often our lives feel as chaotic as the storm on Lake Galilee. We feel like we are being dragged down beneath the waves. We think that God may be good, but he is not great — not great enough to manage my life. Or we think that God is great, but he does not seem good to us — he does not seem to have our best interests at heart. We look forward with fear or we look back with bitterness. So we drag the storm into our own hearts. Our hearts are in turmoil. Jesus says: ‘Peace! Be still!’ (Mark 4:39) and, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’ (Psalm 46:10).

May we be a people who are still in peace, and know that He is a God of goodness and greatness in all things!