Anxiety and the Fool

“The anxiety of the fool continually wearies him; he does not know which way to walk to the city.”

(Ecclesiastes 10:15)

How anxiety incapacitates people. It wears people out, it drains them of vigor and life, and it causes their days to be marked with indecision. They fear so many of the possible outcomes that they don’t know which way to go — even when it is something so simple as that of heading into town. It is not that the way into the city is hidden and obscure; just the fear of the perils along the way bind the anxious person to inaction. And of those in this category, Solomon labels them as a fool.

Why a fool? Is that not rather harsh? While that might sound harsh to our modern ears, the statement that he makes is quite reasonable. If believers are held in the hands of an almighty God, have we anything to fear? If, as Solomon has repeatedly said, God numbers our days and orders our paths, why should we be anxious? Jesus will say very much the same thing about anxiety (Luke 12:22). It is the pagan who has reason to be anxious for his gods can do nothing to aide him; our God is sovereign. But why classify the anxious as a fool? It is because the fool is the one who says there is no God (Psalm 53:1) and then acts accordingly. And friends, if there is no God and all we are is nothing more than randomly evolved organisms, then we have reason to be anxious and fear. But those of us who know there is a God can walk in confidence that all things work together for His glory and to conform me into the image of Christ.

That does not mean to live recklessly; we are called to live with wisdom. Yet, it does mean that we are not to cower or fear when we are called to act or step out in faith. We are called to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do — regardless of what the practical consequences might be — and recognize that in God’s economy, there is no such thing as a “Plan B.” Solomon’s words change the internal conversation that we have with ourselves in this matter — instead of “Will it be popular and well received?” we are called to ask, “Is this what God is commanding me to do?” If “yes,” we do it and trust God for the results.

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