Monday, January 20, 2020

Anonymous Asks (76)

“What does the Bible say about insecurity?”

The answer to that would very much depend on the type of insecurity in question.

For example, King Saul was extremely insecure about his position as king of Israel, so much so that he tried to kill the man he suspected would follow him on the throne. He had very good reason to be insecure, and there was no obvious cure to be found for his insecurity. He had sinned, and was under the judgment of God. His kingdom was to be taken away from him and given to another.

In short, he was trying to defend something to which he had no right. Living in that sort of untenable position will always make us feel insecure.

An Important Question

But there’s an important spiritual principle to be deduced from Saul’s example, and that is this: when we feel insecure, we need to ask ourselves, “Where is God in relation to the source of my insecurity?” In Saul’s case, there was no question where God was. God was standing opposite him with a drawn sword. He was the cause of Saul’s insecurity. Saul’s kingship was doomed, and he had brought it on himself.

Still, there was no need for Saul to remain insecure. In order to stop feeling insecure, all he needed to do was to stop fighting God. Humble, total repentance might have at least made his humiliation more palatable to him. He wouldn’t have kept the thing he was trying to defend (his rule over Israel), but he might have served out the rest of his time as king without being totally miserable and looking over his shoulder every second.

By way of contrast, there is Gideon, who also was more than a little insecure. He was taking a much smaller army of Israelites to fight against an army of Midianite oppressors and their allies. But in Gideon’s case, God was very much on his side. There was no need to fear despite the odds, and when God showed this truth to Gideon, he rightly worshiped, and was able to move forward confidently in battle.

Insecurity at Work or School

There is no need to ever feel insecure about things God has given us. They are ours to keep and enjoy, and to waste a lot of time fretting about losing them displays a lack of faith. If I feel insecure about my job because there are rumors of coming layoffs, I remind myself that “the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” If God can do that with the rulers of the earth, he can certainly do it with my boss. Moreover, if God himself wants me to move on from this job, why ever would I want to stay?

Now of course if I feel insecure about my job because I’m genuinely awful at it, that’s another story. We need to be realistic about the source of our insecurities, and whether it might be something God has put within our power to control, or something we cannot possibly. So maybe I need to make more effort in training, to listen more carefully, to work harder ... or even to think about doing something which better fits my skill set. Maybe I’ve gotten myself in over my head, and the Lord has something better for me on the horizon.

The same principle applies if I am feeling insecure about my ability to successfully complete my university studies. If I cannot confidently (and with solid biblical evidence to back me up) say, “God led me into this,” then perhaps it is time to reassess my choices. I need to know where God stands in relation to them before I can move forward in confidence. Everything depends on that.

Insecurity in Marriage

Another illustration may help. Members of the opposite sex are a very common source of insecurity, but much of the insecurity they inspire in us has to do with the fact that, again, we have gotten in over our heads and we are not entirely sure where God stands in relation to our relationship.

If we are married, we know where God stands: he is firmly on the side of maintaining the relationship, even if it seems a bit rocky at the moment. We can count on him to help us do everything we can to preserve our marriage, to make us alert to the needs of our partner, to help us be gracious and loving and Christ-like even when we don’t feel like it, and to set aside our own needs and desires as necessary in order to fulfill the vows we have made. That does not mean we will succeed, of course, because even if we are seeking to please the Lord, our other half may not be. Maybe we made a poor, carnal choice in a life partner, and the consequences of our choice are now becoming evident to us.

What it does mean there is no need to be insecure about failing at marriage. We can allow events to take their course knowing that if we continue in submission to the Lord and dependence on him, he will have his way in our marriage, even if it means we ultimately lose our partner and are freed up to serve him more effectively. But feeling secure in marriage depends on being 100% sure from scripture where God stands in relation to our marriage commitment, and then obediently seeking his will as we understand it.

Insecurity in Relationships

And what if we are not married? Relationships in flux, where commitment has not been nailed down, are a great source of insecurity. Much of that insecurity comes directly from the sort of partner we are attempting to land. How can we feel confident about having God’s blessing on our efforts to build a lasting relationship with a member of the opposite sex if we have not chosen a partner according to principles he has laid down? I would submit that we can’t.

Suppose our attraction to a particular person is based primarily on physical appearance or how they make us feel? We cannot find a shred of biblical evidence that God cares about such things at all, or that pursuing them is guaranteed to end well. Suppose he or she is an unbeliever. Good luck feeling secure about that.

On the other hand, if our attraction is based on the “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”, Peter tells us such things are precious to God. That does not necessarily mean that we have “found our soulmate”, but it does mean the goal we are pursuing is a worthy one, and that even if we cannot be sure that God is aiding and abetting our efforts, at least we can be confident he has no moral reason to work against us. That ought to build confidence.

Of course, being realistic is important. We may feel insecure because we are coming to a relationship with precious little to offer a prospective partner. Maybe we are carrying a boatload of school debt, or have not yet demonstrated we are capable of financially supporting ourselves and others. Maybe we have not yet developed the sort of self-control, patience and consistency marriage requires, and in our heart of hearts, we know it. Applying biblical principles to our choice of partner to see where God stands in relation to them is all well and good, but we also need to apply biblical principles to our self-assessments. Maybe we are feeling insecure because we are simply not yet ready to be in a relationship. Better to know that now than to find it out later.

Where Does God Stand?

In short, then, our security in all life’s situations depends on knowing with certainty where God stands in relation to our choices. If you can figure that out from reading about God in his word, then you can move forward confidently no matter the odds against you knowing that even when you might initially appear to lose in the short term, you really win in the end.

If you can’t ... you can’t.

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