Ironically, one of my favorite passages in Scripture is the one that I find the hardest to follow. Can anyone else relate to that?
I think that one of Jesus’ hardest lessons was to teach us not to worry. If you are like me, anxiety can feel like second nature to you. I feel like this lesson in anxiety and faith is easier said than done.
“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? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Everyone experiences worry and anxiety to some degree. However, we all do not experience it in the same way. Some people are more prone to worry, they may even feel that it is a part of their personality. Others only experience fear and worry when a traumatic life event happens.
I fall more on the side of anxiety being a part of my personality. When I was child, I started having anxiety attacks on a regular basis. A therapist recommended yoga to me. That helped me to get a hold of my anxiety. Not only do I think it was the practice of focusing on my breathing, body and mind, but I also believe that the people I met through my practice instilled confidence in me.
However, since I graduated from college and began my career, the battle with anxiety has begun again. Starting this new chapter of my life as an independent adult is daunting, and worry creeps in. Any time you face a challenge or start something new, anxiety can resurface.
I watched a video the other day of a guy interviewing people who were retired and 80+. He asked them if they had any life regrets and if they had any advice to give to the younger generations. One lady's answer resonated with me the most. She told the interviewer that she would tell her younger self not to worry so much. “Don't overthink everything and trust that everything is going to end up being OK.”
Faith and worry
The advice of not worrying is not necessarily religious advice. Anyone can tell you, "Don’t worry about it," or "Here are things that you can do to relieve stress." However, I believe that as Christians, when we bring our worries to Jesus, it not only relieves the stress physically but also spiritually.
My favorite part in that passage is when Jesus states, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” The answer to that, of course, is no. In fact, we now know that worry not only doesn’t solve our problems, it takes a physical toll on our body. Anxiety is a killer, yet Jesus is our Savior.
Just as we all experience anxiety differently, we all have different ways of coping with it. We might over consume, over analyze or fall into analysis paralysis. Anxiety can make you feel like you are stuck or isolated. Anxiety is the opposite of Jesus. Where anxiety harms, Jesus brings life. Where anxiety strikes, Jesus lifts up. When anxiety crushes, Jesus gives hope. When anxiety leaves you in darkness, Jesus brings light.
Jesus paints a beautiful illustration of God’s creation in Matthew 6:25-34, witnessed through care for the birds and flowers. Jesus reminds us that we are a part of creation and we are so much more valuable to God. Worry is the opposite of trust. When we put our worries in God’s hands and trust God to take care of us, then there is no need to worry. If God keeps the universe running, then God can take care of our worries.