We have both experienced severe anxiety, which has brought us closer together. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been gripped with so much fear over whether or not he is right for me or in God’s will for me. I’m worried about the future, about all the things that could go wrong, and I’ve been more focused on his flaws than his positive traits.
He still struggles with anxiety, which has prevented him from working. He says he does want to work and not be dependent on others. And he has taken the step of seeking therapy from a Christian counselor. However, I still have doubts. It is difficult to trust him when he says he wants to change.
This is so painful, that I have even been feeling physical effects. We have discussed my doubts and worries. He has been extremely understanding and gracious. He has shown me love, even when I am having trouble reciprocating it. This is really starting to bother me. I have prayed and read Scripture, but the fear is still there. Why am I feeling this way?
Thank you for your question. Based on what you’ve shared, I suspect you are feeling this way because you are on the verge of covenanting for life with a man who is unable at this point to carry out the basic duties of a Christian husband. It’s not your feelings, however, that should lead you to end the relationship, but his unwillingness and inability to work.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
1 Timothy 5:8 goes even further saying, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
The first man and first husband, Adam, was charged with tending the soil in order to bring food from the ground (Genesis 2:8,15). He is the model of all men, created in God’s image to work (John 5:17) in order to provide for their families. Repeatedly in His command to honor the Sabbath, God told His people that prior to the day of rest, for “six days you shall labor and do all your work.” Work was given to us before sin entered the world. Work was part of God’s good creation, and it is God’s means for providing the food we need to live. There are exceptions in this fallen world, of course. Sometimes injuries and illness make it difficult for some to work. But when that happens, it is a tragedy and a trial to be endured, not a way of life to be enabled.
You are right to have compassion on your friend. But he needs to be challenged and encouraged with the knowledge of the freedom from fear that is only found in trusting Christ (1 John 4:18). Scripture is full of exhortations to be strong and courageous, not because of any native strength in us, but because God is with those who fear Him. Jesus said to fear God, not man (Matthew 10:28). God promises to never leave nor forsake those who are in Christ (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). The Psalmist said repeatedly, “The Lord is my helper” (Psalm 18:2).
These are the truths that all believers need to speak to themselves, but also, we need to hear them every week through biblically faithful preaching in the context of a local church. It sounds like your friend’s problem is more serious than not wanting to bear the burden of work — a problem that needs the power of the risen Lord to solve. But you aren’t the person who should be his primary source of help. You can and should pray for him and encourage him, but he needs older, godly men — preferably his pastor or elders — to help him, as well as biblical counseling.
He is not ready to marry because he’s not able to take on the burden-bearing, Christ-exalting role of husband. If he loves you with a biblical, 1 Corinthians 13 love, he will not ask you to marry him in his present condition. Nor should you want him to. Thirteen months is a long time to be dating without forward momentum toward marriage. It sounds like the wisest path at this point is to step away, and end the relationship so that he can focus on growing in Christian maturity and manhood (Ephesians 4:13, Hebrews 6:1).
As much as you should pray for him and empathize with him in his suffering, it would be unwise to marry him — to take on the role of helper to a man who has said he is unable to work because of his anxiety. You need not feel guilty for ending the relationship, nor be afraid that you will somehow thwart God’s will. If you are putting your hope in God and fearing Him alone, you can trust that as you acknowledge Him, He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Copyright Candice Watters 2016. All rights reserved.