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Dear Dr. Calvin,

September 5, 2010

Dear Dr. Calvin,

I am in a state of anxiety, because I am positive that the people buying our house are going to attempt to invade us and move in too early; I’m afraid we will never be rid of their endless questions about how to do things; I’m afraid nothing will ever be quite perfect enough for them. I am anxious because I am positive that the people whose house we are buying are not going to move, or at least not on time. In my anxiety, I impute the worst to everyone concerned, and do not at all trust that anything will ever work out unless I control everyone and every detail. I am exhausted. I have come to realize that my anxiety is not the sin, but is rather the chastisement for the sins of mistrust and self-reliance. Do you have a remedy?

Dr. Calvin’s Reply:

The Lord Jesus had no need to bear the cross and to suffer tribulation, except to attest and prove his obedience to God his Father. There are many reasons, however, why it is necessary for us constantly to bear affliction in this life.

The first reason is that, by nature, we are only too ready to exalt ourselves and to claim sufficiency in everything. Unless we have tangible proof of our weakness, we immediately get inflated ideas of our own abilities, and readily imagine they can prevail over every possible difficulty.

So it is that we develop an empty, foolish confidence in the flesh, which then produces a supercilious attitude toward God, as if we could manage by ourselves without his grace. God has no better way of humbling such arrogance than by showing us by hard experience how weak and feeble we are.

So he brings disgrace, poverty or sickness upon us, or loss of kin or other calamities which, try as we may, at once overwhelm us, because we are not strong enough to bear them. Thus, being humbled, we learn to plead for his power, which alone allows us to stand firm and hold up under the weight of such burdens. — John Calvin, A Guide to Christian Living, pp. 58-59, in: The Banner of Truth, August/September 2010, p. 25

Thank you. This helps me to apprehend the magnitude of the mercy of God in Christ.

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2 Comments
  1. Laura permalink
    September 5, 2010 7:16 pm

    You could open up your own practice as a specialist in finding and applying gospel remedies to a wide variety of afflictions. Hang in there; you have my prayers. This part will all be over and you’ll be settled into your dream home under the stars before you know it.

  2. September 6, 2010 10:04 am

    Perhaps you could even charge 5 cents for such psychiatric help :-) I recognise the truth of that beautiful quote, and the much deeper peace God is ‘forcing’ us to have in being able to call upon and trust His sufficiency than we could have, even should all things go as we would wish. I pray you will know deep peace and rest spiritually, and physically that you would soon have a chance to really rest and recover (I’m sure the physical complications make this sort of struggle much harder; and I’m sure our Father knows this as well — He remembers our frame). Hugs and love.

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