Friends under anxiety

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Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety weighs down a friend. Especially crushing is the unspecified general feeling of dread. So what is the good word capable of lifting the weight and letting gladness spring up in the heart?

I don’t know. I’m sure there is no formula for the “good word.” The good word is discovered in the give and take of friendship. A person under anxiety will seek connection. But it seems from my own experiences that those first attempts at connecting often go wrong or are dissatisfying. Those of us “outside” the weight may be busy, may diminish the feelings and the situation, and just may miss the bid for connection.

And therein is the danger for friends under anxiety. When the bid for connection doesn’t deliver quickly the brain and body moves on to something else in a hurry. Like a baby goose imprinting on its mother those of us under the weight of anxiety are all likely to latch on to something or someone that “makes us feel better” for the moment.

So, what’s the good word that makes one glad? Think about it. What’s it been for you? 

Well for me, most often it is a word delivered by a friend. It may be as simple as “I’m glad to see you” and accompanied by a smile. Usually its a word delivered after listening and questioning. This good word both recognizes the anxiety and calls me to courage. This good word might be buried in a story. But usually “this good word” highlights a good and noble quality possessed by me and calls it forward as a strength.

This good word… may also point to reasons for hope and faith outside of me to which I may intrust myself. Even if I initially resist this kind of good word from a friend, it still has landed in my heart… even for a moment. This is what the Gospel does; it grounds us in the reality of God’s tender mercy and powerful strength for us. And so I believe that though the good words of formal blessings may seem strange to our common conversation patterns, they are powerful for us. Here are three:

Romans 15:13
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 
Romans 16:19-20 
19
But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. 20The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

 
Numbers 6:24-26
24May the LORD bless you and protect you.
25May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
26May the LORD show you his favour and give you his peace.
You probably have friends under anxiety. I hope you will connect with them and see if the Spirit of God generates a good word between you. A good word cannot be rushed!

I pray for you, that our Sovereign LORD would give you His words of wisdom so that you may know how to encourage the anxious. May He waken you morning by morning and open your understanding to His will. (Drawn from Isaiah 50:4)

Starting a Friendship with God.

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9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

12This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command.

15I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.  John 15:9-17

Jesus says, “You are my friends!”

Jesus envisions friendship with Him to have benefits.
…so… you will be filled with my joy.  vs. 11
…so… you will bear lasting fruit.  vs. 16
…so… the Father will give you what you ask for, using my name. vs. 16

Jesus sees days when these benefits of friendship are ours right on the surface of our experience. He also sees The Day when our faith becomes sight and these promises are fully experienced by His friends in the communion of God.

Joy.

Purposeful and fruitful results from our lives.

A dynamic connection with God, in which we actually realize answers to prayer.

I was nine years old when my Sunday school teacher, Molly McCraken read this Scripture and announced to us, “Jesus wants to be your friend.” In that moment God changed my life. With all that I understood at that moment of my life, I gave my life to Jesus and have lived in the grace of friendship with Him ever since.

Even as a nine year old I saw that Jesus had done for us the very thing He says friendship does. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” vs. 13  I love these verses from 1 John 4:9-16, where the John proclaims again the truth and grace of the Gospel:

9God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
13And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

Praise the Lord!

Faith and Friendship

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22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.  James 2:22-23

 

Abraham believed God. This was enough.

 

Faith is the quality of relationship with God that is active, trusting, and reliant.

 

Its a quality God loves to see.

 

He counts us as friends.

 

To get the rest of the story on Abraham read Genesis 11 – 25.

Its not about moi

The ability to suspend judgment requires not only skill but also a lot of energy.

 

This is especially true when you want to be a good friend or parent, or spouse, that conveys empathy, interest, and acceptance.

 

Listening long and with compassion doesn’t mean you approve of or agree with their position.  But you can begin to discern what the roots of their position is.  You can begin to hear what is in their heart.

 

Here are proverbs that create relational tension for me.

 

13If one gives an answer before he hears,

it is his folly and shame.

 

14A man’s spirit will endure sickness,

but a crushed spirit who can bear?

 

15An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,

and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

 

16A man’s gift makes room for him

and brings him before the great.

 

17The one who states his case first seems right,

until the other comes and examines him.

 

Proverbs 18:13-17

 

The crushed spirit needs a friend.

But the crushed spirit has also likely lost perspective.

“It” has become all about “moi.”

And while this crushed one needs empathy,

at the right time he also needs

to see the bigger picture;

“It” is not all about “moi.”