Respectable Sins: Anxiety and Frustration

Introduction & Schedule for blogging on Respectable Sins

Reflections on Chapters 1 & 2

Reflections on Chapters 3 & 4

Reflections on Chapters 5 & 6

Reflection on Chapter 7 (“Ungodliness”) is immediately below this post.

How do you normally respond when everyday life goes awry? If you are like me, then anxiety and frustration are at the top of the list. The reality is that we often respond and are not even aware that we have responded in a sinful way. Anxiety, worry, and frustration all seem natural to us (it is natural, but from our sin nature). In this chapter (8), Jerry Bridges wants us to see these responses as sinful and not simply a part of our temperament that we might ignore or easily brush aside. To be clear, as Bridges does, he is not talking about our response to pain, but to difficulties we may face day to day.

Bridges identifies anxiety as sin for two reasons: it is a distrust of God and it is a lack of acceptance of God’s providence in our lives. “So when I give way to anxiety, I am, in effect, believing that God does not care for me and that He will not take care of me in the particular circumstance that triggers my anxiety of the moment” (64). Bridges thought here bring anxiety into the light and help me to see how it is indeed a sinful response. The truth is that I don’t want to have to trust God and I rarely think about His providence. This, of course, just serves to highlight my sin. As an aside, Bridges addresses worry as a synonym for anxiety. In either case, Bridges wants us to see the care of our Heavenly Father and that His promises are good.

Maybe more challenging for me is the sin of frustration. I have felt frustrated a lot this year as I have encountered a number of circumstances that have been less than desirous. “Whereas anxiety involves fear, frustration usually involves being upset or even angry at whatever or whoever is blocking our plans” (69). Yeah, I can see that in my own life (usually below the surface and usually unnoticeable to most people – probably not my wife!). Bridges goes on to say, “this type of reaction has its roots in my ungodliness at the moment, for at the time I am living as though God is not involved in my life or my circumstances…In the heat of the moment, I tend not to think about God at all. Instead, I focus entirely on the immediate cause of my frustration” (69).

Towards the end of this chapter, Bridges models for us a way of dealing with a particular sin (frustration). He reminds himself of the truth of Psalm 139:16 (“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” NIV). Then Bridges prays both for the power of the Holy Spirit to respond in a godly manner and God’s practical wisdom for dealing with the situation.

  • Do you think of anxiety and frustration as sin? Have you accepted them?
  • Do you ask God if there is something you need to learn or be attentive to when you are faced with frustration? (Bridges question)
  • What has helped you deal with anxiety and frustration? What promises of God, verses, prayers?

I want to remind myself (and you) of the truth of the Gospel. I find, especially in light of the sin that this book is revealing, that I need to reminded that my sins are forgiven through Christ and that Christ’s righteousness is mine. A prayer that I was taught is appropriate: Lord, convict me of my sin, convince me of your grace.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Doug on November 19, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Did Paul sin when he wrote in Philippians 2:25-30?

    Here is why I believe as I do about anxiety.

    Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

    2 Corinthians 12:9
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

    It brings me comfort to think on both passages at the same time. It tells me that God is there in the middle of my life. He knows the depths of the human condition in which I live.

    I am far from perfect and that’s okay. Perhaps, I have been blessed in ways that most individuals are not. It is incredibly simple to see the weakness in being physically blind. Yet in that as Paul says God’s power is made full. I still have my fears about it and the unknown, yet as stated in Joshua, God will help me be strong, to be courageous.

    I do not see, nor do I believe God sees anxiety in and of itself as sin. It is part of the human condition to a degree. It has it’s purpose or the Apostles would not say such things as,

    Philippians 2:12
    Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

    It is when we grasp tightly to those fears in a way that allows them to dominate, sin arises. A condition is created where we no longer see God’s work inside of us or in His world. In this case, God’s providence is denied and the fears cascade into despair, depression and eventually disbelief in God.

    What I have found in me is that I can experience the weakness, taste of it, touch it, but not allow it to rule. In doing so it reminds me to seek God’s Word, God’s Love, and God’s hand to guide me. The key being not to allow seperation from God ( sin ) and understand what role my “state of concern” is playing in that relationship with Him.

    If I pressure myself to be perfect in all these situations and further chide myself for failing am I truly understanding what Paul wrote? Paul clearly says God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. So, is it a sin, or learning to step aside and make room for the grace of God to be reveled in and through us?

    I see that I should ask for the courage that God told Joshua to ask for. At the same time I will also ask that there is no doubt that in my weakness God is the reason I can be strong.

    We could all stop and think on the intricate nuances of sin and anxiety. Yet in that how do we approach another in the middle of a “state of concern” and further how do we approach ourselves? Do we chose the nuance and split-hairs or focus on the side of joy and in the comfort of our Lord’s Grace?

    We should be concerned and have concerns. There is no sin in that. What we can’t do is allow those conerns to rule us and have us forgetting about Jesus Christ. Just as, we should not let our supposed strength through crisis become a point of pride where our weakness is no longer seen and the power of God in it is lost for ourselves and those around us to see.

    Doug

    Reply

  2. Posted by Ellen on November 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I was browing the web and found this article on anxiety as a sin concept. You have it correct!!!!!! I am someone who is a born again believer that has suffered with severe anxiety with an overwheming accompanying depression. i am finally conquering this stronghold in my life – only by accepting my problem as a choice I am making to sin This is not the politically correct way of thinking since we are all supposed to be ‘victims’, right? God has shown me that when I do get into hyper worry it is my sin of not wanting to take charge of my responsibilities. We are called to be soldiers of Christ. To be ready to work and share the gospel wherever he calls us. When I get into those very anxious moods I am telling God that he is a liar and cannot be trusted with my ultimate eternal safety and that I do not want to live the life he has called me to. When I realized this I asked God to forgive me and to help me and do I ever feel a difference!!! He is also showing me not to take on too much, only what he calls me to and to take time to rest and recharge. This is ok since he is in charge of the universe and really doesn’t need my help every single moment of the day. He only uses me because he has chosen to, not because I am some supernatural dynamo.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Elaine Cole on January 3, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I have read the posts and information on the first seven chapters I found so much good information,hoping you will continue with all the reat of the chapters in this book.

    Reply

  4. Ok my essay is going about addicted to caffeine. That mean related to Bible. It say no poison s. Stay from it.
    I first stress out many things like essay assignments. I worried about poor efforts from my teacher. In addition, I afraid I could not graduate. I get hurt and discourage. I start a get new life. Tell me what is really terrible. As a result, I drink a lot of caffeine which made me addicted to a lot. Caffeine and energy drink i almost get sick. In addition, I drink a lot of energy drinks. I look very different- it got worse in my health condition. I got scare of bad weather disaster an my computer was broken. I am afraid got trouble. I went to 7-eleven to but. When i get worry, II drink too much high sugar energy caffeine drinks. I felt that make me stronger and confident. However since I bring it along in my English professor’s room for help.. I kept interrupt which disrespectful. As a result, I want him to help me with essay. At first I felt essay that I could not do it. I feared that I fail writing. Then I drink out of energy drink. Mean while I can not focus very w ell. I could able to concentrate or complete my work. Other bother when my dad call me slowpoke. I felt really bad, angry, and hurt. I kept buy t 8 energy drinks which i spent money and withdraw my moneys. I also could not sleep very well, I act crazy. Even when i went I buy same energy drink. I love to drink amp and rock star. I feel now my bone become marrow. I felt very guilty that he would remove me from his English Enrollment. I also hurt my sister and family who ever cares about my health. I had very terrible attitude of addict caffeine. Every one especially my counselor and doctor. kept telling me not drink caffeine. They also say that if you have struggle problem, just relax and do kill yourself. I felt idiot. I just kill my self. I realized I want to die and getting cancer.
    After all, I was trying not to drink energy drink. Benefits are tea and orange juice will help me always hope and happiness. I have to get use to reduce my body. According Bible, it tell people not to drink or eat poison, other wise you will die. I afraid my grade effort writing may terrible. However, I still can not buy caffeine or energy drink. I have not stress out effort writing or think about my professor. I learn how believe in god. If any worry me. Don not get through. or they haunt swallow in great nightmare. I also get anxiety what will future like doomsday or end of world. I felt like absentminded person. All best is for English , do not give up or keep trying. That positive and good thing for many people not to worry and get depress. Always appreciated people give it you. Do not give your hope. Have faith in God or he will help you. Pray to Him. After all you will be confident and happy. You will grow up eventually if you do not believe in God.

    Reply

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