Every single day, all around the world people experience differing levels of anxiety. And what I have come to realize is that anxiety is different from stress. Stress happens when we feel emotionally, or physically under duress. Anxiety is attached almost exclusively to the unknown… when we are not sure of what tomorrow holds there creeps in anxiety. There is the anticipation of something negative and the consequences that might follow.
And that’s how it feels to: like the slow rise of cold flood waters around your heart. It can have physical repercussions. Heart pains, chills, they are the manifestations of the inward reality that nearly every person feels when the mystery of tomorrow bears down on us.
Now, that doesn’t mean we KNOW something bad will happen, but we THINK it might. And therein lies a sheer lack of trust in God’s provision for our daily lives. I say this in the middle of my own struggles with anxiety of late… I have to admit that, or I’m not the person that I claim to be. And I have to also admit that my anxiety-levels are proportionate to a lack of faith…
So, what do I do?
Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount,
25 “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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?
Can I add a single hour to my life by worrying? Simple question. Even more simple answer. No. I can’t.
But really that question has further implications. Can I change the situation tomorrow by worrying? Can I increase my paycheck by worrying? Can I change my child’s medical condition by worrying? Can I be a better spouse by worrying?
In all those questions the answer is no. Anxiety does nothing but show us how little control we have. And that maybe the most useful thing anxiety does for us… The truth is, each day we are faced with situations that we can’t do anything about, and our only recourse is to simply rely on God’s gracious control.
Jesus ends this portion of the Sermon by saying,
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This is my reminder… that when my feet hit the floor in the morning I have the opportunity to continue to seek first the kingdom and righteousness of God or I can worry about a lot of stuff that I don’t have any control over anyway… and in the eternal scheme out things doesn’t really matter.