Cease Striving and Know that I am God

By Francis Frangipane

Jesus warned of our days. Speaking of the unfolding difficulties in the world, He warned, "See to it that you not be terrified" (Lk 21:3). Indeed, He also said that one prevailing affliction that shall plague humanity would be "men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of . . . things which are coming on the earth" (Lk 21:26 NKJ).

Today, heart failure is the number one killer of men in the western world. In America, nearly one million people will die this year from some form of heart disease. Approximately every 30 seconds another heart fails and a person dies. There may be many contributors to heart failure, but a main source is the inability to handle stress.
There are times when stress is unavoidable--the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, moving to a new home or going through a divorce. But most of the time stress is a sin we simply accommodate and live with. The problem is that, just as death entered the world through Adam's sin (Rom 5), so death enters our personal world through our sins. Indeed, when we carry stress, we carry a container of death that, without fail, takes an ever increasing toll upon our lives.

Jesus said we would hear of wars and rumors of wars, but again He said, "see that you are not frightened" (Matt 24:6). Today, we are living with a war on terror and we are preparing for a war against Iraq. The world fears what Saddam Hussein might do. No one believes he has reformed; everyone knows as soon as we let down our guard, he will attack some other nation, probably Israel. While other nations suffer from "Iraq-niphobia," I appreciate greatly the resolve of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. We cannot live with fear; we must confront it. Yet, who among us is not concerned for the lives that will be lost on both sides. Thus, the burden of war and its consequences remains a heavy burden upon our souls.

War is not our only problem. We have many unanswered questions that are a source of stress: When will our struggling economy recover? Will another terrorist attack strike? We worry about our children and fret about the problems that accompany aging and our health. We have stress at our jobs, stress rides with us on our highways and it meets us at the door when we come home.

Paul wrote, "Be anxious for nothing" (Phil 4:6), yet we seem to be anxious for everything. Stress related anxiety is so much a part of our lives that, somehow, it has escaped being identified as being sinful. It is sin, however. At its core, it is a stubborn refusal to trust the goodness of God or rest in His power. It is a by-product of unbelief. It is a "terror attack" from hell that is silently killing thousands every day.

God is With Us
Certainly, there are spiritual realities we should strive to attain. I am not suggesting we abandon seeking hard after God or become passive. However, I am saying we ought to abandon our fears and the stressful anxieties that come from not resting in God.

One title for the Messiah is "Immanuel," which means, "God with us." Jesus promised to be with us, "even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:20). At some point we must accept the wonder and power of Christ's promise. He is with us always! To mistrust this promise is to reject the very character of the divine nature. It is serious sin.

In the Psalms, the Lord gives us a promise for the day in which we find ourselves. He says,

"Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalms 46:10).

No matter what things look like now, God has decreed that He will be exalted in the earth. Not satan, but God; not evil, but good. Hell may have its hour, but God will win the day.

All our lives we are taught to judge by what our eyes see and our ears hear. To do so is perfectly rational. The only problem is that when our decisions are based only upon our senses, we lose the perspective and wisdom of God. The Living God not only sees the end from the beginning, in a heartbeat He can change the world we see into something that is full of redemption and grace.

Fear is a magnifying lens that exaggerates whatever it looks at. The devil is a master illusionist who uses fear to take our eyes off the Lord. The result is that our stress level increases and anxiety brings death into our world. Indeed, the more we talk about what's wrong, the greater the wrong possesses us.

God's word tells us, "In repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength"(Isa 30:15). Be quiet. Compose your soul. Don't let your unbelieving words deplete your spirit, for the more you talk, the more peace you lose. Keep your soul focused upon the Lord. Turn your heart toward the strength of God. Those who believe, enter His rest and from the place of rest, hear His voice.

If you know who God truly is, anxiety will fade into trust. Therefore, cease worrying! God cares for you. Those who trust Him have peace that surpasses all understanding. Talk to the Lord and then quietly listen. As you do, your spirit will soar, your heart expand and ascend into His Presence.

It has been truly said, "Fear is the darkroom where Satan develops our negatives." Therefore, renounce fear. Divorce anxiety. Beloved, the Lord is good. Trust Him with your battle. Yes, it's time to cease striving and know that He is God.