Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Anxiety of Uncertainty—the Antidote

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A Devotional by Sylvan A. Lashley
University of the Southern Caribbean
April 9, 2016
Scripture Setting: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” 
(Phil 4:6-7).

 We live in an age of economic uncertainty and lack of predictability and increasing personal and social insecurity. Recent events in Trinidad/Tobago point to such uncertainty, with the recent hike in petroleum at the fuel pump, taxes on online shopping, increased taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and luxury cars and the implications of a higher resultant cost of living.  Champagne tastes and mauby money represents the colloquialism by which the present scenario has been described in some places.  Several reading this missive, won’t be directly affected by the increase consumption taxes on some of the items, but higher costs on food items and inflation will be the result of the removal of gasoline and diesel subsidies.  Such events can give rise to organizational and personal uncertainty as persons grapple with the impact of a higher cost of living and a lower value in the paycheck. 
 The best news is that the Christian has a higher hope, yet even in the staunchest Christian there might remain some lingering apprehension about the portentous times ahead.  Research suggests that there is a certain anxiety level that is a corollary to uncertainty.  A team of researchers in Quebec (Douglas, 1994) developed the “Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale (IUS), the degree to which people seek out and desire predictability. High levels of IU were linked to anxiety disorders and to more worry and to brain processes such as “emotional regulation, threat detection and safety detection (Nature Reviews in Neuroscience, 2013), centered in the pre-frontal cortex.
Yet, there is an antidote prescribed in Scripture—“Do not be anxious about anything” (Phil 4:6-7); “cast all your cares upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7); “do not be anxious about what you will eat or what you will drink…” (Matt 6:25-34); “for I know the plans that I have for you…” (Jer 29:11); “trust in the Lord with all of your heart…” (Proverbs 3:5- 6); “cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you (Psalm 55:2); “He will not let your foot be moved for He who keeps you will not slumber…” (Psalm 121:3-8); “he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty”. How then shall we live, act, plan and implement?  We have an antidote—a daily connection, a faith full of action.  We are forewarned, forearmed, pre-muscled and strengthened. What about you? What is our uncertainty and anxiety index in our lives, schools and churches? We are prone to cut back and reduce. Are these not logical and rational matters where we count the costs, or shall we act on another level, where despite the costs, we expand our efforts, by faith, to preach the gospel in our schools, and churches.  That is the question of the hour--you tell me now

1 comment:

  1. “The Seventh Day—Jericho”

    A Devotional Thought

    Sylvan Lashley

    University of the Southern Caribbean

    “I have given into thine hand Jericho”… Joshua 6:2. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30).

    The day dawned bright and early as the assembled hosts awoke with keen anticipation. It was the seventh day, Sabbath! The fitness gurus had already seen to it that the people were prepared—it was the seventh day. An early, hearty breakfast, the promise of good weather, with all the attendant logistics, charted the day, as to the marching order—the ark, the priests, and then the remnant. It was the seventh day.
    The reverberating echo still sounded—“I have given into thine hand Jerichoooooo?. The parsers were already at work—“I have” denoted the present tense, and “given” a past tense, culminating into the present perfect. The action had already been completed in the past, with an overlap into the present and the future in man-made time. The act of marching was a sign of obedience, followed a full faith in God’s apparent illogical yet clear instructions, and the foolishness of man’s rational logic. The hands of faith reached out across the chasm of the impossible to touch the hands of effort. And there it stood—the wall—11 feet high and 14 feet wide, with a 35 degree upward angular slope, leading up to vertical gigantic and taller stone walls, massive and impregnable, and forbidding.
    To march once for six days, and then on the seventh for seven times, represented the threshold of the human and the Divine, the divide of faith and rationality, of obedience and trust. Instructions were clear and copious—“no noise on the first six days”; a sequenced order of priests then ark, and people in sequined robes, a steady plod around on the seventh-day, then the blast of trumpets, then a shout, glorious and cascading—600,000 men besides women and children, a logistical feat of no mean order. It was the shout of faith that led to the shout of victory.
    Within each of us, there is that Jericho--cocky, snug and self-assured, and yet an Israel on the outside, trying to get through the walls. We live in a time of logic and rational thought, a time of proof and physical evidence, yet God is still in charge. He challenges us in the present perfect tense, and assures us of His protection and guidance. The chasm of disbelief must be crossed by the bridge of faith and obedience, for faith without works is dead. We cannot be guided by our limited vision, for man does not see as God sees. What seemed impossible by man was possible with God. What about your own life today? Is there some insurmountable mountain before you? May the Jerichos within fall before the steady march of Scripture and “Thus Saith the Lord”.