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October-November 2023

Forging Ahead


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Worry and a Good Word

By Joshua Colson


“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: But a good word maketh it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).

In Proverbs 12:25, Solomon paints a concrete picture of how the abstract concept of anxiety affects us. The first image that appeared in my mind after reading these words was from a commercial for Spiriva, a medicine used to treat respiratory problems. The commercial featured an elephant sitting on a man’s chest, weighing him down and making it impossible to breathe.
Solomon depicts anxiety like that elephant, weighing heavily upon our lives and making it difficult to live. Anxiety makes us think the wrong thoughts, feel the wrong emotions, and perform the wrong actions. Truly, anxiety is a burden that weighs down the heart.

Yet Scripture is clear God did not design humans for a life of anxiety. After all, anxiety is the opposite of faithful trust in God. Anxiety worries about the unknown future while faith trusts “the unknown future to the known God,” as Corrie Ten Boom famously put it. Humans were designed to trust God, but, in Adam, we all rebelled and were estranged from our Creator. This alienation was evident in the Garden after our first parents ate the forbidden fruit: “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8). Why did they hide? They were afraid of having their sin exposed to the Lord (Genesis 3:10).

Sinful human beings have anxiety about being in the presence of God. Something in the human constitution, what Paul calls “the law written in their hearts,” condemns us before God (Romans 2:15). However deeply they bury the knowledge, humans know they are at odds with their Creator, and they know they deserve judgment. The written law of God simply shatters the ability of humans to suppress the law written on our hearts. His law clearly declares we are not living in a manner pleasing to God, and judgment is coming because of it (Hebrews 9:27). Standing before a holy God in judgment strikes dread into the depths of our being (and rightly so) because we are faced with the prospect of eternal punishment, eternal separation from the God who fashioned us for Himself.

All human beings experience this looming anxiety about meeting God in the judgment. Some try to escape it by running from Him. Others embrace a life of legalism, anxiously toiling to try to earn a right standing before the holy Judge.


This is not the only form of anxiety humans experience, though. Because of our sin in Adam, humans deal with relational conflict, hardships in the workplace, financial woes, pain, disease, and even death. How much of our anxiety is born from the prospect of facing one or more of these?

But there is good news that makes the heart glad today, a good word that lifts the crushing elephant off the chest. God Himself spoke this good word for the first time when He promised in Genesis 3:15 that the Seed of the woman would crush the head of Satan. God promised the Seed of the woman would do all Adam had left undone before the Fall and undo all Adam brought about by the Fall. Of course, that “Seed” is the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom God speaks grace, healing, and reconciliation.

For those who run from God in their anxiety, Jesus Christ invites us to stand fully forgiven and at peace with our Father through His righteous life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and priestly intercession. To those who anxiously toil in a desperate attempt to earn a right standing before God (like Adam and Eve sewing fig leaves together to cover themselves in Genesis 3:7), Jesus Christ invites us to cease from our anxious toil and trust in His finished work. This invitation was foreshadowed to our first parents when God graciously made garments of skins and clothed Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). Our first parents could rest easy in the knowledge their garments, divinely given, far surpassed the tattered fig leaves they had sewn together for themselves. Likewise, God has not left us to be clothed in the “filthy rags” of our own righteousness (Isaiah 64:6); rather, He clothes us in the shining white robes of Christ’s righteousness.

What news could lighten the heart more than this? What words are sweeter than Jesus’ own: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)? We can be freed from the ultimate anxiety of judgment by faith in Jesus Christ.

Of course, we know anxiety is a persistent reality in our current unglorified state. As believers, we live as members of the “already here but not yet consummated” Kingdom of God. The Kingdom has entered the world through Jesus Christ, and we have been invited to join it. Yet, we pray His Kingdom will continue to come until Christ returns. And, the world is not now as it should be. We deal with relational conflicts. We experience pain, hurt, loss, disease, and financial woes. We reckon with the looming reality of mortality, first for others, then for ourselves. And because these things are a reality, anxiety remains a reality, as well. We still have worries and fears, and—for that reason—we need continually to hear a good word to overcome them.

We need to hear the good word of the gospel again and again. As you read this, perhaps you have sinned in such a way that you question whether you are still a child of God, whether you have gone beyond His forgiveness. Hear this good word: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Though we have sinned, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

Maybe you have anxiety about health concerns and need to hear the blessed promise Jesus gave to Lazarus’ family: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). Lazarus’ illness did, in fact, lead to death; but Jesus raised him from the grave, proving even disease and death do not have the final word over Jesus’ disciples.

Maybe you have anxiety about the future and just need to hear our compassionate Father is in control (Matthew 6:25-34). He holds the future in His hands. He sees farther than we see. He knows more than we can know. He has greater plans than our eyes can see, than our ears can hear, than our hearts can imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9). The surest confirmation of this came when God raised Jesus from the dead. We need to hear this good word God has spoken to us in Christ Jesus time and time again.

Not only do we need to hear it. We also need to share it, that others might also overcome anxiety. God uses people like you and me to communicate His good word. An entire world of heavy-hearted people needs to be made glad by the good Word, who is Jesus Christ. Perhaps you know an anxious unbeliever with whom you might share the peace that comes through knowing Jesus. I assure you there are anxious individuals in your local church who especially need the good word of the gospel to gladden their hearts.

God uses our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us, and He wants to use us to encourage our brothers and sisters. Perhaps you should send an encouraging text message right now, as you have reached the end of this article. Perhaps your words will be sweet to the soul and bring healing (Proverbs 16:24) by lifting the elephant of anxiety from another’s chest.

—Adapted from the article previously published on The Helwys Society Forum.


About the Author: Joshua Colson is associate pastor for Christian Education and Member Care at Pittsburg FWB Church (IL). In addition to pastoring, Joshua is an adjunct instructor at Welch College.


©2023 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists