Worry seems to come naturally to so many of us, doesn’t it? If we could win an Olympic gold medal in worry and anxiety, many of us would have one. There is much in life to worry about. Much in this life causes anxiety. Much keeps us awake at night, robbing us of the peace that we so desperately need.
I love that Jesus was so practical in His teachings. He performed miracles, met very real needs. taught truth, and called out sin for what it is. In all of that, there was a practicality that spoke straight to human hearts. We can be taught all day long, but you and I both have a desire built within us to want to know what to do with that teaching. We want to be able to practically apply it to our lives. So did Jesus.
It shouldn’t surprise a single one of us, then, that Jesus also addressed this issue that most human beings deal with on a daily basis: Anxiety. He not only addressed the issue, but He instructed us on how to rise above it and how to find rest and peace when it comes on strong like a tidal wave.
Take a few minutes to read through Matthew 6:25-34.
Jesus begins His instruction with these powerful three words: “Do not worry…” Notice the imperative. It is not a suggestion. It’s a command. This is interesting for me to think about because so often I feel as if I’m the victim of my own anxiety and worry. When life seems to get out of control and I can’t determine which way is up, I feel as if there is no other option but to be anxious. Jesus knew we would be prone to this thinking, so He gave us some invaluable instruction on this. “Do not worry…”
After taking a good, long, hard look at this passage, I couldn’t help but walk away with this conviction: Fear is a choice. Worry is something that we decide to do. It is not forced upon us. We are the ones in control of our minds. We have the daily opportunity given to us to either choose faith or to choose fear, worry, and anxiety. Jesus would have never commanded us not to worry if it was an impossible thing to accomplish. He never said it would be easy, but rather, He said it is possible.
Another thing I absolutely love about the teachings of Jesus is that He never just leaves us with the command and walks away. Not only is further instruction given to us on how to obey, but we’re also given a precious promise here in this passage. Let’s start with the “how.” This part has everything to do with our focus. Jesus goes on to say that we should consider the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields. He poses the rhetorical question, “Don’t they have all that they need?” It’s all a matter of focus and perspective. You see, what is He is asking us to consider is that if He would go so far as to provide for the birds and the flowers, how much further would He go to provide for His children? The answer is “as far as it takes.”
And there we have the promise. Take another look at Matthew 6:33. Notice the reminder given to us about focus. What are you looking at? Where are you looking to in order for your needs to be met? Jesus says, “Look to me. Seek me first.” Then, the promise unfolds—“and all these things will be given to you as well.” Don’t miss this, friends. There is no lack for the devoted, Christ-seeking child of God. When we look to Him, our faces are radiant. When we seek Him above leaning on ourselves and our own understanding, we lack no good thing. When our focus is in the right place, there is no need to worry or fear.
Anxiety can be a thing of our past. It should be a thing of our past if we are in Christ. What we focus on is what we elevate in our minds. What we elevate in our minds is what we are tempted to worship. Sounds weird, doesn’t it, that we would worship anxiety? Think about it, though. The more we focus on what causes us worry and anxiety, the less we are capable of focusing on Jesus Christ, our Provider. The less we focus on Him, the less we worship Him. The less we worship Him and are found in His presence, the less we know rest.
Friends, the invitation remains today. Find rest in God alone. There’s no rest in anxiety. There’s no rest in worry. The heavy weight that accompanies worry is lifted when we redirect our gaze to the face of Jesus. When we look to Him and seek Him first, all need is met. Rest is had. So, lay down the burden of worry and anxiety, and in exchange, grab hold of His extended hand that reaches out to you today.