Thursday, July 07, 2016

Trust as the Cure for Anxiety & Fear

Linda and I - after baptisms at our Green Lake (Wisconsin) conference

Six months ago I purchased a new office chair for home. I like it. It's comfortable. It's solid. I trust it. I trust that it will hold me. I have no anxiety or fear in regard to it. The more trust, the less fear.

Where there is trust, there is the absence of anxiety. It would be contradictory to say, "I trust the chair I'm sitting in, but am afraid it won't hold me." Where there is trust, there is no fear.

There are objects of significant trust, and objects of insignificant trust. Objects of significant trust affect us; objects of insignificant trust have no effect. I may not trust the motives of the present King of France, but my mistrust does not cause me anxiety or fear because I am unaffected by his actions. But my mistrust of our economy can cause me to wonder whether or not I will have sufficient funds to meet my needs in retirement. BTW - there is no "present King of France." Many fears come as a result of mistrusting nonexistent objects.)

The person filled with anxiety and fear is the person who does not 
trust, or whose trust is misplaced. A wife should trust her husband. If the husband cheats on her she loses trust. She is consumed by uncertainty. When the foundation gives way trust goes with it.

Ultimately, who or what shall we trust? If atheism were true there is no one or nothing to trust, in the end. (For an example of this see atheist Julian Barnes, Nothing to Be Frightened Of, with the emphasis on the noun "nothing.") But because God exists, and is who he is, I make him my "ultimate concern" (see Tillich, minus "the ground of being").

There is a cumulative effect that results from a lifetime of trusting in God. A psychological confidence, an existential certitude, emerges. The one who places their trust in God experiences less anxiety. It is like the confidence one gains as a result of sitting in the same chair for years and finding that, through it all, it still holds.

This is not illusory. I have met many people who experience this. I have been at the bedside of God-trusters as they lay dying. You have to be there to see the reality of this and the certainty of their faith.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God. And God will make straight your paths.
- Proverbs 3:5-6

My new book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.