I have a recurring stress dream where I’m about to play music at church but suddenly notice all my guitar equipment is unplugged and I don’t remember how it reconnects. I have another where I’m trying to get somewhere quickly on foot but don’t remember how to run and end up dragging myself along on all fours like a gorilla. Each time, I feel this deep sense of anxiety because something I thought I had mastered—from playing an instrument to moving my own body—is suddenly out of my control. I don’t like these dreams. Still, there’s something instructive about them.
We fret over jobs and kids and dreams. We have the nagging sense that these are all things we should be able to master.
Life, after all, is filled with anxiety. We fret over money. We fret over friendships. We fret over jobs and kids and dreams. We have the nagging sense that these are all things we should be able to master. To get right. Yet the harder we chase them, the more we seem to suffer, because we cannot catch them.
For many of us, the natural inclination in times of want is something like Philippians 4:6-7: We don’t want to be anxious, so we bring our prayers and petitions to God. But do we feel at peace when God doesn’t grant our request? Or do we feel more anxious and try to pray harder, wondering if God hears us at all? We’re missing an important part of the verse: thankfulness.
The truth is, our lives are completely given. This goes for what we have as well as for what we don’t. God gives both, according to His wisdom, in order to encourage us in our faith and challenge us in our unbelief. God Himself, especially in Jesus who makes Him known, is an unsurpassable gift—one who inspires gratitude and gives us a fresh perspective. With Him in the forefront of our minds, those desires for financial security or a true vocation or deep friendships may not disappear completely, but they will become less urgent. We might even find ourselves feeling content. Content to want. Content to wait, because we already have something far greater.