God knew anxiety was going to be an emotion we would face in this life. And as a God who provides, He gave us clear words on how to deal with this: “Do not be anxious…”
Easier said than done, right? Thankfully, He doesn’t just leave us with that. In Matthew 6:25-34, he paints a picture through a logical “lesser to greater” argument as to why we shouldn’t be anxious. If God can do <such and such> for something of lesser value, won’t he do even more for something of greater value? I also just want to pause for a second and say, I love this about God. He’s supernatural and there’s so much about Him that’s a complete mystery, and yet there is also so much logic to how He works.
In this teaching, He uses nature – birds and plants – to make his point. He says, “you’re so worried about what you’re going to eat, drink, and wear. And yet, if God feeds the birds and clothes the lilies – and you have more value than these – won’t He also take care of you? So, all around us, we have reminders from creation that God will take care of us. If He can take care of the less valuable things, certainly He’ll take care of you.
This past Sunday, Pastors Mitchel and Ryan took us through this passage and what Jesus says about anxiousness; where it comes from and how we can follow Jesus in a world filled with it.
Anxiety is such a broad term, and with the rise in mental health awareness the past several years, it’s used loosely and broadly. So how do we define anxiety in this context?
Anxiety is the uncertainty that lives in the future or the hypothetical.
In this teaching, He says to not be anxious about what you will eat or will wear. Anxiety is what we feel when our imaginations go into overdrive, when we imagine narratives, contingencies, and possibilities that are way more than what we could anticipate.
Fear on the other hand is a response to a known or definite threat.
Fear leads to worry and anxiety because one real threat can lead us to imagine or perceive several more.
When Jesus says, “do not be anxious…,” it’s important to note that He says it to comfort and reassure us. If you’re a parent, or an aunt, or uncle, or really any adult who’s ever talked to a child – it’s like when you say to a little one, “don’t worry” when they express concern about something you know will end OK.
Here Jesus says, “do not be anxious…” because He implies and reassures that He has and will take care of you. He knows how it ends… with His care and provision over you.
Fear and anxiety also have their purpose in our lives. They point us to an underlying desire. It might be to be loved, to be secure and protected, to be useful. Or it might point us to what we want, what is important to us, or what we value. These are all good things. But often, we look to something other than God – ourselves, our riches, our control, our routines – to fulfill those desires.
When we put our trust in things other than Jesus, the moment that those things become uncertain, we begin to feel worry and anxiety. There are also certain conditions that might lead us to anxiety. Anxiety grows by amnesia, when we forget certain truths.
1. When we forget our worth. (v 26)
We forget that God created us and loves us, and thus will provide for us. We begin to think that the only person we have worth to is me!
2. When we forget about our heavenly Father’s care and provision. (v 32)
We forget God’s good character and ability. That’s what happens over and over again in God’s relationship with his people. They forget and even doubt God’s ability to care and provide for them.
3. When we forget our limited ability (v 27)
We can’t add an hour to our life. We don’t have that kind of control, power, or ability. How many times do we have to be reminded that we don’t have control? Yet so much of our worrying is a vain attempt to try and correct the situation.
So how do we fight anxiety?
Remember who our God is. Remember who you are. Remember what he’s done for you. Throughout the Bible, God tells his people to remember. You can help yourself remember by memorizing scripture. If you haven’t yet, join us in memorizing Psalm 23 and remind yourself that He is our good shepherd.
What do you do to slow down and calm down? How do you unplug? We are meant to take sabbath and find ways to refresh.
Surrender it all to God. Your desire to control your life, your plans, your kids, your goals, your accomplishments. Your hope is in what he has achieved for you on the cross and the empty tomb.
A way you can surrender each day is to make your bed. And as you make it and bring order to it, declare that God is the one who orders your world.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:34
God is at work today, giving you what you need today. Anxiety has a way of taking us ahead of God. He has new mercies for us today, which are new every morning. Rest in that truth and promise.