Do you know how the story ends?
I love reading a story or watching a movie that has a happy ending. If the story doesn’t end well I feel that something is missing and maybe even disappointed or sad. Most people are the same. A happy ending makes us feel………….well – happy.
When we read the stories in the Bible we do so from the vantage point of knowing how the story ends. The Children of Israel were delivered from Egypt. They miraculously crossed the Red Sea and in the process, God dealt their enemy a powerful and final blow.
Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt. He spent many years in prison until finally, the time came for him to be released and take up the position as second in command over the whole of Egypt. God restored his family in a miraculous way. We could say at that point they all lived happily together in Egypt for a very long time.
Lazarus got sick. His sisters sent word to Jesus knowing that He could heal him. Jesus was delayed and Lazarus died. Four days later Lazarus was raised from the dead and was restored to his sisters.
Jesus was betrayed by those closest to Him. He was whipped, beaten and crucified. His body was laid in a tomb and everyone thought that was the end. On the first day of the week, however, Mary went to the tomb and discovered it was empty. The thought of resurrection did not enter her head. Someone must have taken His body but the angel assured her He is not here – He has risen.
From the future, we can clearly see the past
From the vantage point of where we are today, we know the outcome of these stories. When the Children of Israel were living as slaves in Egypt they could not envisage living as free people in the Promised Land. At the time they were confronted by the Red Sea most of them were convinced they were going to die or be captured and would have to return to Egypt as slaves. Joseph was thrown into the pit by his brothers. While in the pit he could not imagine being second in command in Egypt. I am sure the restoration of his family in a faraway country was beyond anything that he could have comprehended.
Lazarus died. Mary and Martha could not see a future where he would be living with them for many years to come. As Jesus body was taken from the cross and laid in the tomb His friends and family had no idea that on Sunday morning everything was going to change…………forever.
What would have happened if all of these people could have for just a moment stepped into the future? They would have seen that the ending of the story they thought they were going to have and the ending that really happened were very different. Would their feelings of fear and anxiety have been diminished? I believe so.
Responding to the present situation
Think for a moment how each of these people or groups of people were feeling at the time. The Children of Israel were anxious and afraid. We know this because God said to them “Fear not.”
Joseph would have had to deal with fear and anxiety on his way to Egypt and while in the prison in Egypt. Fear of the unknown would probably have caused him to experience major anxiety.
Mary and Martha were afraid and anxious when Jesus was delayed in getting to their house. Anxiety and fear turned to grief when Lazarus died.
The disciples, Mary, and the family of Jesus all experienced anxiety and fear during the lead up to the crucifixion, during the crucifixion and after the crucifixion. When we look at their responses to the things going on during that period of time fear and anxiety were their constant companions.
Jesus experienced fear and anxiety
Even Jesus experienced fear and anxiety during that time. How do we know? He walked this earth as a man and the Bible tells us that He was tempted in all things as we are. Hebrews 4:15 (AMP) For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted knowing exactly how it feels to be human in every respect as we are, yet without committing any sin. (emphasis added)
Knowing what was ahead of Him mentally, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually Jesus asked His Father if possible to take the events that were coming from Him. He was about to experience things so horrific that no human in the past or in the future would experience. Scripture records Him as being deeply distressed in His mind (sounds like fear and anxiety) and His heart was so filled with grief that He was overcome by it.
Jesus could go through what He was about to experience because He knew how the story ended. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame”. Jesus knew what the future was. He knew that Sunday morning was coming and because He knew how the story ended He was able to endure the horrors of the cross.
Fear and anxiety are a normal response
Each of these people including Jesus had a normal response to the situations they were facing. Feeling fear and anxiety is not wrong. They are a normal response to situations and circumstances that may be beyond our control. We will also experience fear and anxiety when we have to walk through experiences that are painful or potentially have an outcome that we want to avoid. Fear and anxiety will also show up when we don’t know what the future holds. Both fear and anxiety are our mind’s way of alerting us to a problem.
Some reading this today may be walking through the valley of fear and anxiety. I want to take off of you the guilt and condemnation that religion or other people may have put on you in these areas. It’s ok to feel these things. Your mind is telling you there is something that needs to be addressed. God knows that in this journey through life we will be confronted with situations and circumstances that will cause us to be afraid and to be anxious. Remember fear and anxiety are a normal response to these situations and circumstances.
What would your life look like?
If God’s only beloved Son experienced fear and anxiety He is not going to condemn you for experiencing these feelings. The good news is that He is working behind the scenes because He knows how your story ends.
Today I want to encourage you. If you feel like you are living in the valley of fear and anxiety know that you are in fact just walking through. God doesn’t want you living in the valley. He wants to lead you to a place where you can begin to feel peace, build confidence and resilience and not be intimidated. He wants you living your best life – now.
What would your life look like if you were able to control the fear and anxiety instead of it controlling you?
Do you know how your story ends?
Next week – Part 2