Antidote for Anxiety

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Abby Koontz

Abby and her husband Jay live in Indiana with their two children.  They are blessed to be licensed foster parents as well.  Abby has an undergraduate degree from Moody Bible Institute and a Masters in Social Work from Indiana University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  She has worked with children and families involved with the Department of Child Services and Juvenile probation for 11 years.  Abby loves her local church and serves in a variety of ministries there including working with children and teens.  

There are innumerable challenges that present themselves daily in Kidmin.  The challenges vary from church politics, to perplexing, trauma affected children, to budget constraints (or non-existent budgets), to lesson planning, to volunteer recruiting, to event planning and the list goes on (and on and on!)  Some challenges seem overwhelming and can lead to anxiety. Anxiety is prevalent in our culture at large, and we in the church are not immune. Many of us have probably observed an increase in anxiety in children. In the future, I would like to address the needs of children in this area specifically but today I urge you to meditate on one antidote for anxiety...Trust.  Please understand, I do not wish to minimize the experience of anxiety by simply stating “trust more,” but we do know the One is all together trustworthy, and He desires what is best for us. We can encourage our own hearts and the hearts of the children we serve with this truth.

Some of us were taught or have taught our children the prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”  Well in Jesus’ day children were taught a bedtime prayer as well. Psalm 31:5 says in part, Into your hand, I commit my spirit.  This is a night-time prayer used in Jewish tradition. It is likely Jesus was also taught this prayer. We never want to read too much into the text but it is possible that he also had the preceding portion of the psalm on his mind as he uttered his last words on the cross.  Psalm 31:1-5 says “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.  Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”  

Christ’s statement on the cross is really an echo of Psalm 31:5 and can be understood in a similar sense, as an expression of trust in God even extreme circumstances. The ultimate question, wrote Patrick Henry about the seventh word from the cross, “is not ‘What happens when I die?’ but ‘In whom can I trust to the end?’”

There is an old sermon illustration, at least as old as the mid 1800s, about a botanist in the highlands of Scotland who spotted a rare and highly prized plant far below the cliff where he stood on a little embankment jutting out from the sheer cliff face. As he stood there contemplating how he could get down to the embankment to retrieve the plant, a little Scottish boy came walking along.

The botanist stopped the boy, pointed to the plant far below, and explained the situation. “I wonder,” he asked the boy, “if you will allow me to tie my rope around your waist and lower you down to the plant? I promise I will not let you go.”

The boy heard the proposal, paused, looked back over the edge of the cliff, and said, “No.”

As he turned to go, the now frantic botanist called for the boy to stop, produced his wallet, and offered the boy an impressive sum of money. “I will pay you,” he said, “if you will let me lower you down.”

The boy paused again.   He looked at the money, looked back over the cliff edge at the plant far below, looked back at the man, thought for a bit, and then said, “I’ll tell you what, mister. I don’t want your money. And I’m not going to let you lower me down there. But I will do it for free if you meet one demand.”

“Anything,” the botanist said.

“I will do it,” replied the boy, “if my father can hold the rope.”

Trust.  Jesus was exemplifying trust in His Father in the most agonizing of moments. We can trust the Father who loves us when it comes to death, and we can also trust Him with all our struggles and challenges in life because as the Psalm states He is our rock and our fortress. Thank God there is a refuge from the storms of life and from the terrors of death: It is in the Father’s hand. It is our faith that we are in the Father’s hand. That is truly a refuge.