Summary: Overcome anxiety when you remember that God is faithful and you are forgiven.
Just a few years ago, The Onion published a satirical story about a man who almost had fun:
Marshall Platt, 34, came tantalizingly close to kicking back and having a good time while attending a friend's barbeque last night before remembering each and every one of his professional and personal obligations, backyard sources confirmed. While he chatted with friends over a relaxed outdoor meal, Platt was reportedly seconds away from letting go and enjoying himself when he was suddenly crushed by the full weight of work emails that still needed to be dealt with… an upcoming wedding he had yet to buy airfare for because of an unresolved issue with his Southwest Rapid Rewards account, and phone calls that needed to be returned.
Platt, who reportedly sunk into a distracted haze after coming to the razor's edge of experiencing genuine joy, fully intended to go through the motions of talking with friends and appearing to have a good time, all while he mentally shopped for a birthday present for his mother… and made a silent note to call his bank about a mysterious recurring $19 monthly fee that he had recently discovered on his credit card statement.
“Everything's fine,” said the tense, mentally absent man whose girlfriend asked him what was wrong after his near-giddy buzz vanished and he remembered that he hadn't called his aunt yet to check up on her after her surgery. “I'm having fun.”
According to sources, Platt tried to put his responsibility-laden thoughts out of his mind and loosen up… but suddenly remembered a magazine subscription that needed to be renewed by Friday, a medical bill he thought might now be overdue, and the fact that he needed to do laundry by tonight or he would run out of clean socks and underwear. (The Onion, "Man On Cusp Of Having Fun Suddenly Remembers Every Single One Of His Responsibilities," 5-30-13)
Some people just can’t enjoy life, because they’re worried about so many things. Perhaps, that describes some of you. So what can you do to alleviate the stress? What is a good antidote for anxiety? What can you do to conquer worry?
Well, I think we can learn some lessons from Joseph’s brothers in the Old Testament. They’re in a high state of panic after they returned from Egypt. They were like a bunch of backwards country bumpkins going to the big city, which was intimidating enough. But then they had to beg to buy grain from a powerful Egyptian ruler, who accused them of being spies. He took one of them as prisoner and demanded that they bring back their youngest brother to prove the veracity of their story. There is a severe drought in the in the land and now they have to go back to Egypt to buy more food.
Genesis 43:1-7 Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’ ” Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” (ESV)
Do you sense the anxiety in their words? Israel and his sons are afraid. They’re afraid of starving to death. They’re afraid of losing their little brother, and they’re afraid of appearing again before this powerful Egyptian ruler who took one of them prisoner last time they were there.
Genesis 43:8-10 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.” (ESV)