Be Anxious for Nothing: Destroying Doubt and Releasing Faith

We cannot call our worrying, anxiety, and fretfulness a sign of godly concern and faith
without at the same time implying that our Lord is a liar.1 ~ R. J. Rushdoony

It’s interesting that the modern world struggles with worry and anxiety as much as any other time in history. It’s interesting only because civilization, industry, and technology are so highly advanced so that modern man needn’t concern himself with “What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matt. 6:31). So, why are we so worried and anxious?

And what does this say about our faith? Worry is based upon doubt—a questioning as to God’s willingness and power to provide for His children—while peace is based upon a confidence in God and His Word. What then do we truly believe? Is our faith only an assent to the creeds, or do we have a living faith that follows in the footsteps of Abraham?

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Romans 4:20–21

All of God’s saints throughout Scripture have faced “impossible” circumstances that appeared to war against God’s promises of provision, but as our Lord said more than once, “According to your faith be it unto you” Matthew 9:29, and “thy faith hath made thee whole” (v. 22). Therefore, if there’s any work we need to do, it’s to work on our faith.

“Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief”

As Rushdoony noted in the quote above, worry, anxiety, and fretfulness imply that God is a liar, and we would all be hard pressed to think of any other believer—including ourselves—who would ever suggest that God is a liar. Yet, that’s the implication of worry. For most of us, we feel much like the father of the demonized son at the Mount of Transfiguration who said, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). We simply struggle with our faith.

When the disciples once said to our Lord, “Increase our faith,” He responded by saying that a mustard seed of faith could uproot a sycamine tree and cast it into the sea (Luke 17:5–6). Therefore, it wasn’t greater faith they needed—since a tiny mustard seed of faith would result in the greatest of miracles—they needed something else; or possibly less of something else.

Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to unto you. (Matt. 17:19-20, emphasis added)

“Because of Your Unbelief”

Had the disciples never cast out devils before, they would not have asked our Lord why they could not cast out the devils in the young boy. They would have simply waited for Jesus to return and let Him do what He always does. Therefore, they imagined that they were “in faith” as much as any other time, but for whatever reason, they were not producing results.

The reason our Lord gave them was their unbelief, and it’s the same reason He would give to us today. Therefore, we do not need to “increase our faith.” We need to decrease our doubt, because a mustard seed of unhindered faith can accomplish a lot. As James says, doubt is devastating to our faith and prayers:

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:6–8

What shall we do? We should do as our Lord instructs and learn to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4), and we should heed the admonishment of the apostle Paul to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Like Abraham, we must practice a disregard for our limiting circumstances and set our minds only upon the promises of God (Rom. 4:19–21).

Finding the Peace That Passes All Understanding

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Faith pleases God, and if we feel our faith is lacking—or our unbelief too strong—then we should pursue His reward by diligently seeking Him. Just as Enoch and Abraham who “walked with God” (Gen. 5:22; 17:1), and Elijah who set before us the example that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). They were not much different than us, for Elijah himself “was a man subject to like passions as we are.” What’s the difference? “He prayed earnestly” (v. 17).

If we are beset with worry, fretfulness, and anxiety, let us begin with the Word of God and prayer. Let us daily feed upon both God’s commandment and promises as if it were our bread. And lastly, let us be persuaded of the assurances of God’s peace that will surely come to us as we seek His face:

Be careful (merimnao, lit. “anxious”) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6–7

[1] R. J. Rushdoony, A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Vol. 2 (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2011), p. 13.