By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
Probably never before in the history of the world have the nations been so desperately anxious; and therefore never before has the Church, and we ourselves, so needed to heed the command of the Holy Ghost,- IN NOTHING BE ANXIOUS (Phil., 4: 6, R.V.).
So we face the command. In nothing be anxious: have no anxieties (Lightfoot): nothing is in the position of emphasis. Anxiety is not deprecated, or criticised, or condemned; much more than that, all anxiety is forbidden: in nothing be anxious. Anxiety is a spiritual fever which works havoc with the character and service of the child of God: as we brood over our worries in the secret hours of the night, the mind gets exhausted, the spirit discouraged and depressed, the body unutterably weary, and the cares remain exactly where they were. Which of you, our Lord asks, by being anxious could add one cubit unto his stature? (Matt. 6: 27). Will a seamans anxiety keep his vessel off the rocks? can anxiety cure cancer? can anxiety prevent a revolution sweeping away the last penny piece that stands between us and nothing? When we are anxious we are trespassers on forbidden ground. Unremoved care has brought countless myriads to the bullet, the arsenic, the mad-house. For every trial God sends He gives sufficient grace for its endurance; but He promises no grace to bear anticipations.
the cure of anxiety does not lie in vividly realizing its uselessness and folly
and sin: the cure is something infinitely sweeter. Casting,
says Peter, (1 Pet. 5: 7), all your anxiety upon God. Language
how bold! Somebody must carry the cares,
for they are real enough: could Gods grace go further than commanding us to unburden ourselves upon Him? It is
the essence of anxiety to think that we must, and that we can, manage without
God, or better than God; that we can do what He either cannot, or will not be
troubled, to do for us. And look at the breadth and width of the command:- casting all your anxiety: our fear for tomorrows bread; the
threatened disease in our home; the prodigal childs wandering; [the loss of our sight];
the little worries, as well as the great storm clouds darkening the whole
heavens; even the last great anxiety of all - entering the Valley of the
Shadow. No load is heavier than any other load to an Infinite Power; and once
the care has been rolled upon Him, it becomes
Gods care, and ceases to be mine. It follows from the command that so far from
casting our anxieties on God being a presumption, it is a sin not to do so. As the Puritan Cecil said long ago:- I have been
thinking of an expression of
But why? Why cast all our care upon God? For, the Apostle answers, He careth for you: not, is anxious, for God cannot be anxious; but we are a care to Him, and it is His delight to feed the mouth he made. Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things (Matt. 6: 32). Because He cares for you He will care for it. Look, said Martin Luther once, how that little fellow - [one of the tiny birds in your back garden] - preaches faith to us all! He takes hold of his twig, tucks his head under his wing, and goes to sleep, leaving God to think for him! In the summer of 1878 a lady descended the Righi with one of the oldest and most skilful of the Swiss guides. He gave me, she says, a lesson for life. His first care was to put all my wraps and burdens on his own shoulders. He asked for all; but she kept back some. These wraps, she found, greatly hindered her descent; until at last, as she sat resting, very gently but very firmly he insisted on taking all but her alpenstock; and as he, thus burdened, walked on intensely pleased, she found she could make double speed with double safety. It all flashed on her in a moment. O foolish, wilful heart, she said to herself, hast thou given up thy last burden, at last? Thou hast no need to carry them, nor even the right. And as she leapt lightly from rock to rock, she said, - So will I follow Jesus my Guide, casting all my care upon Him, for He careth for me. As a brother once beautifully prayed:- Lord, make us not care less, but care-free.
Now see how we can cast our care upon God. In nothing be anxious; but - as the cure for all anxiety in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known - not locked in your own bosoms - unto God. Take the overcrowded hearts into the presence-chamber of the King? As an old writer puts it:- Be careful for nothing; be prayerful for everything; be thankful for anything. Anxiety, someone says, is thinking meanly of God: has He not enough for us, and does He not wish us to have it? So that our very anxieties can be turned into blessings, for they can bring us to God, and so unlock His treasures; if we turn every threatened trouble into prayer - that God would deliver and prevent, or else give grace to bear; or grant that wonderful buoyancy which comes from knowing that the Lord is at hand, when everything will be set right. He can sink rocks, and cleave seas, for His People: birds will bring meat, and fish coins, if He bids them: there is nothing that we should be the better for having which we may not hopefully ask of God (Eadie). One of the sweetest of all comforts for the present moment follows. If the Lord is not careful of us, in little acts of constant care, constant proofs of personal love and some degree of approval, is there not a comforting likelihood that He will remove us before the coming horrors, if we continue thus to walk with Him? (Luke 21 : 31). Two little boys were talking of Elijahs ascension. One said,- Wouldnt you be afraid to ride in a chariot of fire? No, said the other, not if God drove.
Finally, have we realized how Gods care is already around us? If the earth were only a few inches less in diameter, there would be such a rarifying of the air that blood would be spouting from all nostrils and ears and mouths; if it were a few inches less, all life would be frozen to death;* a few pounds added of barometic pressure, and all mankind would swoon, never to wake: for in Him we live and move and have our being. Can we not then trust Him altogether? For what is the result of committing everything to God? And the peace of God Gods peace that fills heaven; the peace of a perfect trust which passeth all understanding - surpassing every device or counsel of man, i.e., which produces a higher satisfaction than all anxious forethought (Lightfoot) shall guard - shall stand as sentry, so that no anxieties shall pass in your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. When John Rutledge was once sailing in American lakes, the ice closed in immense masses around his ship, so that the captain told him that no human effort could save the boat. Rutledge knelt down, and prayed; and as he prayed, the wind shifted, and opened a way through the sharp and threatening masses of ice, so that the ship escaped with ease; and when the seamen came and asked the Captain,- Shall we crowd on canvas? No, he said, dont touch her: Someone else is managing this ship.
Dr. C. T. Schwarze, a Professor in
Hudson Taylor voices what hundreds of thousands have experienced of anxiety extinguished. In one, whose privilege it has been, for many years past, to put God to the test in various circumstances at home and abroad, by land and by sea, in sickness and health, in necessities, in dangers, and at the gates of death - apprehensions would be wholly inexcusable. The writer has seen God, in answer to prayer, quell the raging of the storm, alter the direction of the wind, and give rain in the midst of a prolonged drought. He has seen Him, in answer to prayer, stay the angry passions and murderous intentions of violent men, and bring the machinations of His peoples foes to naught. He has seen Him, in answer to prayer, raise the dying from the bed of death, when human aid was vain, has seen Him preserve from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and from the destruction that wasteth at noonday. For all these years he has proved the faithfulness of God, in supplying his own temporal wants, and for the needs of the work he has been engaged in.