God the Master When I Feel Fear, Worry, and Self-Pity
In our desire to make God more palatable to the masses, Christianity highlights His love at the expense of His justice. We roll our eyes at the person who always has the cliché on their lips, who allows everyone to walk all over them. Yet this is exactly the God modern-day Christianity has created. We “believe” that a God with rules and expectations is not appealing to unbelievers—I wonder if the truth is more that the God with rules and expectations is more unappealing to us instead.
God is God. Yes, He loves. Yes, He forgives. And yes, He judges, and has rules, and expectations. Please know—there remains a vast difference between the expectations of God and the expectations of the human church. Christianity preaches a God of love, in the context of a legalistic church. Unbelievers are told about a loving God, than walk into a church where they feel unwelcomed because of their habits, dress, way of speaking, or any one of numerous sins deemed unforgivable by the human church. We suddenly have all these rules for someone, rules, by the way, that we ourselves are unwilling to follow. We preach Jesus so much, and remain so unwilling to make Him the true Master of our lives.
Fear, worry, and self-pity more often than not begin in the feeling that things are not going your way. Fear idolizes the unknown—making it reality before it ever has the chance to be so. Worry idolizes control—the desire to have every duck in order, and in that, every duck the right color with the right feather-style, the correct walking form, and the certain kind of formation that fulfills your personal expectation. Self-pity idolizes self—making personal desires the king of one’s life.
Ugly descriptions. Ugly realities. And the picture of so many claiming to have Christ as King.
Do you struggle with fear, worry and/or self-pity? This is your opportunity to honestly, transparently assess the extent to which these ugly things rule your life.
Where is your life paralyzed by fear, worry and self-pity?
Read the following passages. What kind of life is described in each?
- Ephesians 3:20-21
- John 14:27
- Numbers 6:26
- Psalm 146:1-10
- John 10:10
How do these descriptions compare to how you feel when you are fearful, worried, or indulging in self-pity?
Which life would you prefer?
Return to Ephesians 3. Read verses 14-21. What posture does Paul describe in verse 14?
This posture is the precursor to the very appealing quality of life described in verses 20-21.
Do you feel you approach Jesus with this posture?
What stands in the way of you approaching Jesus in a posture of submission to His will? Confess that now.
You can get into a justification cycle, knowing that submission is important, but still holding onto the belief that you can get by okay without it. After all, it is not like you are out killing people, right? You try—that should be enough. But deep in your heart, you know it is an excuse. You know that your “trying” extends no further than intention, never touching actual action. And you know that Jesus demands more than you can give on your own. Admitting the vulnerability and the need for help flies in the face of your independence. And it is hard.
God knew it would be hard, or else He would not have offered us repeated encouragement.
Read Psalm 81:10-16. What difference does submission to God make in the experience of one’s life?
Read Luke 26:43-49. What stands out to you?
What kind of fruit do you want your life to bring forth?
In verses 43-44, what reality needs to be present in your heart in order to get that result?
Reflect on Jesus’ question in verse 45. What reaction arises in your heart?
Review verse 48. What characteristics describe this house?
How did the storm impact this house?
Review verse 49. What characteristics describe this house?
How did the storm impact this house?
Which characteristics do you want describing your life? How do you want to be impacted by the storms that surround? What changes do you need to make to get the results you desire?
Review verse 47. Jesus gives the path to these results. What is He asking you to do right now?
When we think of submitting to Jesus, hesitancy arises in our hearts. Just like the three-year-old who doesn’t want to be told what to do, we resist for the sake of resisting. Review what you listed as the desired characteristics of your life. Those are your desires. Jesus is the path to reach them. Do not go off the deep-end with this concept—Jesus is not here to give you every demanding want. He gives you what you need for a rich, godly, righteous life—which will result in rewards you cannot imagine. He is not a genie, a coddling parent, or a push-over. Jesus knows more about how to succeed in God’s kingdom than you or I will ever understand. If you want the life He promises, you have to submit to the way He commands.
Review verse 46. What reaction do you have to that verse right now?
Read John 13:1-17. What stands out to you?
Review verses 12-15. What reason did Jesus give for doing what He did?
Write out verse 15.
What does this verse mean to you right now?
Review verses 6-10. How did Jesus respond to Peter’s request?
As your heart changes, this is an important point to remember. This is not an opportunity to over-dramatize your change. As a believer, you need not a full-dunking. Your feet need washing. Make the changes. Make them in your heart. Remember how the fruit comes? It comes from the heart. Life need not be a series of dramatic circumstances. A life well-lived in the kingdom of God comes with it an inner peace, only found when Jesus is truly Master in your life.
Review verse 15 again. Find at least four other examples in scripture that Jesus has left for you. For each example you find, write the reference, the example, and what that example means in your daily life.
Jesus is the example. If you want a different life, you must submit to Him as Lord and Master. “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” He does not merely tell us what we should do—He left an example to follow. And never once was His life characterized by fear, worry, or self-pity.
Follow Jesus. That is all.