Spiritual Object Permanence

Phil Christman

Read: Hebrews 11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (v. 1) One of the worst realities of anxiety is that it blocks out my subjective awareness of God. When I’m anxious, I feel singularly responsible for the world. All actual problems are mine alone to fix; all potential threats are mine to monitor—or to imagine, as we’ve also discussed. At such times, I have to actually practice remembering—to make a conscious, …

Restored Fortunes

Phil Christman

Read: Jeremiah 29:1-14 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. (v. 5) Anxiety is linked to the future in a doomed attempt to control what will happen by trying to outthink time itself. That means it’s also bound up with where we think we are in the story of our lives, and of creation. For any young person who follows the news, it is easy to feel that we are late in the story. As …

Think Before You Speak

Phil Christman

Read: James 1:19-27 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (v. 26) Anxiety is a physical and emotional response to danger or uncertainty. It can be a disease. Unfortunately, it’s also something we often stir up for each other through our words. The way we make daily conversation can have a heavier moral and psychological impact on other people than we may like to admit. As …

Anxiety Is Not a Sin

Phil Christman

Read: Psalm 34 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. (v. 4) Growing up, when I read verses like Psalm 34:4, I took them to mean that negative emotions—fear, anxiety, depression—were a sign of insufficient faith. When I was diagnosed with clinical anxiety, I had to learn to understand such verses another way. With clinical anxiety, your body produces a panicked feeling much like a cancer patient’s body produces unwanted cells: it’s …

Seek Him Where He Is

Phil Christman

READ: Matthew 25:31-46 Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? (vv. 37-39) I used to find Matthew 25 terrifying because I focused on the “eternal fire” with which Jesus threatens those who don’t do the required works of charity (vv. 41-43). I …

The State’s Place

Phil Christman

READ: Colossians 1:15-23 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities . . . (v. 16) Governments do a lot of good. Today I mailed a letter, which will be delivered courtesy of my government. I also deposited my paycheck, which is only worth anything because my government backs the currency and enforces the contracts between my employers, my bank, and me. But governments also …