Stress and anxiety are often part of our lives nowadays; we worry about so many different things, including our jobs (or lack of them), finances, relationships, politics and so on. Even when we don’t have any specific reason to worry, anxiety can gnaw away at us; Charlie Brown once said, ‘I worry about my worries!’ The problem with stress, worry and anxiety is that these are futile; as Charlie Brown also comments, ‘worrying just stops you from enjoying the good.’
In Matt 6:25-34, Jesus addressed these problems and gave us the antidote to anxiety. He told His disciples – who faced much the same worries we do, even if they may be dressed in different clothes! – not to worry, showing them it was pointless (it can’t add an hour to our lives or an inch to our height) and that life is about much more than the material world. The reason we don’t have to worry is not because bad things don’t happen, but because we have a God who loves us and provides for us.
Many people struggle to believe that God is in charge and that He loves us and therefore feel that they must be able to solve all of life’s problems by themselves, which is clearly impossible. So often, our worries are about tomorrow, but as Jesus reminded us, if God cares for the flowers in the fields and the birds of the air, He will surely look after us, since we are even more valuable to HIm. The only way we can successfully live without worrying is by seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness above our own desires and needs. If we focus on ourselves, worry is inevitable, but in the divine paradox of life, if we turn our attention away from our needs, our needs will actually be met by God. When we learn to rely on God’s righteousness rather than our own and put God first, we find that trusting God is the cure for anxiety (see Prov 3:5-6). Habbakuk reminds us that we can rejoice even when circumstances don’t appear to be favourable (Hab 3:17-18). It’s all a question of trust; trust is the antidote to worry. When we put God first and trust Him, we can relax into His loving care. ‘Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions‘, as the Message version puts it!