Getting A Grip on Worry

Sam Petitfils

“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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”  Matthew 6:25

I’ve known people in my time who seldom worry about things, at least outwardly.  They possess a sort of placid personality where not much ever bugs them.  But for most of us, worry can become a thorn in our flesh.

If you think about it, we have plenty to worry about.  We could lose our health, possessions, jobs, families, and even our lives.  We could get killed in a traffic accident, or contract a rare, incurable disease.  Our houses could burn down or we could have IRS trouble.  Troubles here, troubles, there, we face no shortage of things to worry about.

But Jesus shows us a much better way, leading to a more peaceful life.  He begins by asking us to consider the meaning of life itself.  Life is more than the things we typically worry about.  Jesus said that life is more important than food and clothes.  He goes on to describe how God takes care of the birds and animals, and will take care of us.  In verses 28-30, He points to God’s role in nature, decorating the bare grass with lilies.  Will He not also clothe us?

Jesus tells us not to mimic the behavior of pagans, who run after these material things (verse 32).  God knows that we need food and clothing, and will not fail to take care of us.  But He does tell us what we should be concerned about: seeking His kingdom (verse 33).

Many Christians get these things reversed, spending their waking hours fretting about all the woes they face, and worrying about matters they have little control over.  God invites us into His presence to commit our cause to Him, and all worries too.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” writes Peter in his first letter.  Peter learned this valuable truth because he followed Jesus and witnessed His life.  He knew that God cares for His children and will not let them down.

So what is the bottom line?  We need to concern ourselves with advancing God’s kingdom.  When we get that reversed and seek to build our own kingdoms, all manner of worries break into our lives.  Jesus called His yoke “easy” and His burden “light” (Matthew 11:28-30).  When we make Him our single focus, He gives us peace that surpasses understanding.

At this point we should distinguish between a valid “concern” and sinful worry.  I’ve known people who don’t worry much, but neither do they fulfill their basic responsibilities in life.  They really don’t care about much of anything.  If I lose my job, I should be concerned and take it to prayer.  If I don’t feel well, I need to take measures to get better.  If my relationships aren’t working out, I should take steps to repair them.  We should be concerned about some things; but such concern need not lead to worry.  A worried person demonstrates a basic lack of trust in God; a concerned person can take matters to God.

Of course, Jesus provides the true antidote to worry: Live for God and live to advance His cause in the world, and God will help you take care of all other matters.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee, take it to the Lord in prayer
In His arms he'll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there

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