Final Thoughts on Anxiety

Matthew 6:28-34

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I think it’s interesting that Jesus uses examples of creation and nature so frequently in the past few verses. As I talked about in my previous post, anxiety is a sin that many people struggle with, but few think it’s a significant issue.  This casual treatment of sin can allow anxiety to linger for long periods of time, which holds us back from carrying out God’s will and living in a healthy manner.  So why is Jesus choosing to describe sparrows, lilies, and Solomon?  Well, like other sins, anxiety makes us very selfish.  We only worry about how situations will affect us, or how others will treat us.  The more anxious we become, the more we try to control what is happening around us, and the less we consider God and others.  So Jesus steers us towards what God the Father has created.  “Look at the lilies, look at the birds of the air; I created those things! And I’ve faithfully taken care of them!”  This is the concept Jesus is trying to get across to us.  What do we have in common with flowers?  We were both created by God.  And Jesus reassures us that while we have the same creator, we are of more value than other things God has created.  So what should our response to this be?  We should choose to have faith in God’s providence in our lives.  Many of us shouldn’t worry about what we eat, drink, or wear.  And yet there are countless apps that track what we eat, how many calories we consume, what the best microbrews are, and what celebrities are wearing.  We have shifted from worrying about having possessions at all to worrying about having enough possessions.  I recently finished a book about compulsive behaviors, such as why we are obsessed with checking our smartphones, or why people shop obsessively. The author had some good points, but ended the book by stating that compulsions are helpful in reducing anxiety.  I was disappointed by this assessment.  The world may believe that compulsions are the best solution to dealing with anxiety, but trusting Jesus and focusing on God’s goodness and creation seem better alternatives than checking our phones every few minutes.  God knows our needs.  I love how the last verse of the chapter ends.  It is a practical takeaway that anxiety only compounds upon itself; it doesn’t really solve any issues.  As Christians, we should remember that one way God expects us to be different from the world is by simply trusting in Him, in good times or bad.  The next time you’re feeling anxious, I would encourage you to put your phone up on the shelf.  Walk outside, take a look at the flowers, and remember that God cares for you.

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