"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

An antidote to worry

Posted by Anne Witton on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 Under: Reflections

I have just returned from a brilliant Christian conference where I got a chance to hang out with some amazing friends and be challenged by some excellent teaching.

The focus of the Bible talks was the Sermon on the Mount, and one of the sessions that really spoke to me was the teaching on worry in Matthew 6: 25 - 34.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This is a really familiar passage, but one that I've sometimes struggled with. On one hand, it makes complete sense that I don't need to worry - I know that God will provide for me and I know that worrying doesn't make anything better - but on the other hand I sometimes feel as though I can't help worrying. Being anxious seems to be something that I don't have control over. I don't want to worry, but sometimes I don't know how to stop, and then I feel guilty for worrying! *

It's so easy to imagine a worst case scenario and let worry about it eat away at our present joy. The speaker shared a helpful example of the destructive nature of worry. Imagine that your boss says to you on Friday, 'I'd like to speak to you at 9.30am on Monday morning.' It's very natural for us to fear the worst and then obsess about it all weekend - are we going to be made redundant or has someone complained about us? When Monday comes, we may find that our boss actually wanted to tell us about a promotion or a pay rise, in which case we've ruined our weekend by worrying unnecessarily. But what if it turned out that we were being made redundant? We may think that we were right to worry, but in fact there was still no point in ruining our weekend, especially as we'll need emotional energy to deal with the news. Jesus said "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Wise words.

So what can we do to stop worry stealing our joy?

  • It was really useful to see that this passage is in the context of storing up treasures in heaven rather than being obsessed with material things and running after the stuff of the world. It seems to me that people with a lot of 'stuff' often become more and more worried about losing it. The way to be free from that kind of worry is to care about the things that can't be destroyed or taken away - the treasures in heaven.
  • God knows what we need and is perfectly willing to provide and capable of supplying everything we need. The God that created and sustains the entire universe can look after us! If God provides for birds who are far less valuable than us, then he will certainly meet our needs!
  • Finally, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12: 2) and seek his kingdom. As I wandered round the conference grounds on the Saturday afternoon it was gloriously sunny. I was struck by how, if you stare at the sun and then look away, you can see the imprint of the sun on everything else. I was thinking that if you focus on God's Son, then wherever you look you'll see him and his purposes and that makes it very difficult to worry.
* NB - I have focussed here on everyday worry that everyone experiences. As someone who has ongoing battles with mental illness, I appreciate that sometimes people need professional help and medication to deal with clinical anxiety and related issues. If that's you, please get help and tell a friend who you trust.

In : Reflections 

Tags: worry anxiety treasure bible provision 


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