How often have you found yourself anxious for possibly groundless reasons? And acting rashly in search of affirmation, in ways that are either unnecessary or unpleasantly grasping–ways that compounded your anxiousness?
I think I can say that I’ve slowly learned to at least notice when I’m anxious on the basis of assumptions I’m not yet in a position to vary (about someone’s feelings towards me, a career-related loss, someone’s health).
Psalm 106:13-15 brings into crystal clear focus the importance of noticing when we’re craving security amid uncertainty:
But they soon forgot your works, would not wait to learn your plan, and gave in to their craving in the wilderness, putting you to test in the wasteland; so you gave them what they asked for, then sent a wasting disease among them.
Out of Egypt, in the wilderness for years, the Israelites craved leeks, cucumbers, spice, the packed markets they left behind . . . they complained to God about being out in the middle of nowhere. God may have liberated them from slavery and forced labor, but they did not like the absence of good food and civilization. And by constant complaining instead of reflection, by rushing to call upon the gods that seemed to satisfy their former oppressors, they focused upon what was missing instead of upon the God who acted once on their behalf, and pledged to act again–by bringing them, eventually, into a land flowing with milk and honey . . . after they felt the consequences of their rash demands for immediate satisfaction.
I can think of days and seasons of my life when I’ve given in to cravings in the wilderness, by trying to satisfy them in haste instead of waiting. Now I find that remembering and praying around this image of craving in the wilderness brings a kind of relief and a snappy redirection. I’ll still feel paralysis, worry, fear of abandonment–whatever form the craving for affirmation or security takes just then. But I know what not to do, and how better to rest still with the anxious moments between past and future abundance from God.