January 17, 2019 ● 19-05
Matt. 6:25: For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; not for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Matt. 6:33: But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
1 Pet. 5:7: casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
None of us can claim innocence from worry and anxiety. If you have children you worry, especially when they start to drive and go out at night. When our daughters were out I never slept until they came home. If I dozed off I would get up and see if the car was in the driveway and they were safe in bed. Worry is natural for parents with teens. Men will worry, although they will not admit it, because they want to provide for their family. If they work in jobs that may be seasonal or hit and miss, they worry because they want to be able to pay the bills and support the family. Single mothers worry because it is not easy raising children on your own. Students worry because of grades and graduating and get anxious about what to do after school: college or work? When you are having medical issues and you have to have tests, you worry and are anxious about the tests, and about the results of the tests. So none of us can claim innocence from worry and anxiety. Some people seem to be natural worriers, they worry about everything. Others don’t seem to be bothered about too much at all. But at some point in our lives, we worry, we get anxious.
Anxiety in its most severe forms can be debilitating, it can paralyze you, it can be devastating to your health. Many people, many strong Christians, suffer with anxiety disorder and in the church those suffering with anxiety and depression often suffer in silence. Those struggling and suffering with worry and anxiety don’t want anyone else to know they are struggling because they think they will be judged for lack of faith. According to healthline.com, here are some effects of worry on the body1:
A sense of doom; panic attacks; headaches; depression; irritability; breathing problems; pounding heart; upset stomach; extreme fatigue; increased blood pressure; muscle aches and pains.
It has been medically proven that worry and anxiety have negative effects on the body. In Matt. 6, Jesus taught about worry and anxiety, and His bottom line is simple: Don’t worry about the stuff of life, God has it all under His control.
But how do we live the reality of that? How do we or can we realistically push worry and anxiety aside?
First, understand God’s provision. God provides for us in four ways:
- God gives us the ability to provide for our families through jobs and other means;
- God provides in His own way and in His own time.
I had a church member in the last church I pastored that came to my house one day with a brand new pair of running shoes. He said that he knew I enjoyed running and he wanted to give me a new pair of shoes; and they were the right size and the brand I normally used! That was a nice surprise, a way God provided because I really did need new shoes.
- God’s provision meets needs, not greeds.
- God provides so we can meet the needs of others.
Jesus was not telling the disciples that food and clothing were of no importance, what He was trying to emphasize was worrying over having enough to eat or wear. This was the lesson God tried to teach the Hebrews in the wilderness when they began to complain about not having any food. Through the provision of manna daily, God taught the Hebrews to rely on Him for the basic necessities in life. For forty years the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness and they never went hungry! In fact the Bible tells us in those forty years their feet never swelled up nor did their clothes wear out (Deut. 8:4)! Imagine that, forth years in the desert and your clothes never wearing out!
Second, if you and I are overly concerned about food and clothes, then we will not be focused on serving God; we will be focused on serving ourselves. Yes we want to be able to provide for our families, but that should not be the all-encompassing pursuit of our daily lives. It is easy for me to say, “Don’t worry” because I have never been at the point of almost starving because I or my family literally had nothing. But understand this: Jesus was teaching to a crowd of people, many of whom literally had nothing, just what they wore. Many of them worked daily to provide food for their families but they really had nothing. So the world in which Jesus taught this sermon was a world of poverty. Jesus was simply trying to get them to have a kingdom focus instead of a worldly focus.
Third, what we worry over is at best temporary, Jesus taught our focus must be on what is eternal.
This is part one of a two-part blog on worry and anxiety. I want to share the first two equipping points from this blog; I will share the other two in my next entry:
- Ask God to help you be kingdom focused in every part of your life.
- Use God’s Word on a daily basis to help you keep life in perspective.
I want to encourage you to allow God’s Word to equip you to gain the victory over worry and anxiety.
1 “Effects of anxiety on the body”, www.healthline.com, internet, accessed Jan. 14, 2019.