Fighting Anxiety, Part 2
As we saw in Part 1, worrying is considering the future without factoring in God. So, Paul’s encouragement to fight anxiety is “Go to God in times of trouble. Bow when you are burdened. Worship when you are worried.” Paul says pray because getting your eyes on a big God will always put the problem into perspective.
Well, when we go to God in prayer, what do we take with us? If anxiety is what we’re facing and the peace of God (Philippians 4:8) is what we’re after, what should our prayers include? Answer: the promises of God. You might say it like this: if you want to experience the peace of God, you must believe in the promises of God. In other words, if you don’t want anxiety to get the upper hand, you must know God’s promises and believe them. The triumph of peace over fear will only come by faith. The fight is over what you believe and prayer is your calling out to God to help you believe what he has said.
So, let me provide some promises he has given us in the fight against anxiety. Look at Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus gives several promises to his disciples who are worried and uncertain about what they will eat and drink and wear as they follow him. Read along with me.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
Jesus says, “Would you stop worrying about if you’ll have enough food to eat and clothes to wear. Consider your life. I made it. If I know how to make your body, do you not think I know how to maintain it and care for it? The body is more complex that food and clothing. What is providing mere cloths and a meal compared to the putting together of genes and molecules, the creation of organs and tissues, and the construction of skeletal and nervous systems? If I can make all that, don’t you think I can make sure you have what you need to wear and have what you need to eat?”
26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
After Jesus tells us to look at our lives, he calls our attention to the birds. These little things are trivial in the grand scheme of things. We give them little attention except when they are trying to steal our food at a park. Most of the world’s birds are out of sight and out of mind. They are insignificant. And yet, God takes of them. If God will look after birds that are generally speaking, inconsequential, will he not provide for you, someone way more valuable to him?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
God is bursting with so much creative energy and care that he even takes to lilies. He decorates the earth with fields of flowers that show off a brilliant spectrum of color. And yet, flowers are here one day and fade and wither the next. So, here’s the point: If God is willing to use his creative skill on mere flowers that will die in a very short time, are you not a higher priority to him than flowers since you are his child and you’ll live forever in his presence? Will he not give you infinitely more attention than the lilies? Next time you go to the Boston Gardens and you check out the flowers blooming bright and bountifully, bring this verse to mind. Be reminded of his care for you.
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
We are not like the unbelievers who think they are left to themselves. We have a heavenly Father who knows our needs for today and he knows our needs for tomorrow and he knows our needs for next year. He is not ignorant of our situation; in fact, he is proactive, working and willing so that we will have everything necessary to carry out his will.
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Finally, if you give yourself to God’s cause and stop being absorbed by your private material needs, you can be 100% confident you’ll have all you need to fulfill his plan for your life and to bring him glory. Now don’t expect the peace of God when you’re going through life trying to build your own kingdom. It doesn’t say “Seek first Jonathan’s kingdom” and you’ll be A-okay. There’s a difference in asking God, “How can I make much of you with this life I have?” and seeing how he guides vs. “God, this is what I’m aiming for, this is what I want, this is what I’m after. Will you bless it?” So much of our anxiety comes from following after our own plans instead of trusting in God’s timing and going about things God’s way. But you can be sure that when you seek his kingdom, he will be absolutely committed to making sure all your needs are met.
So many wonderful promises Jesus has laid out for us here. Will you believe them? Will you pray them when anxiety strikes?
If you’re ever looking for a church in Boston, we’d love to have you visit!