So many times do I hear this phrase, usually in reference to the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 6, where Jesus reportedly says in verse 25, “do not worry about your life,” and again in verse 34, “do not worry about tomorrow.” However, just like singing “Jesus Loves Me” often becomes a force of habit, I often lose the gravity and importance of this command Jesus gave us during His time on earth.
Today I did a topical study on anxiety, worry, stress . . . whatever word best describes it to you. Regardless of what we call it, the meaning behind these words are the same. They often make us feel tired, degraded, pathetic, useless, worthless. They are tools the devil uses to bring us down. Anxiety is the absence of trust, of love, of hope – all things that the devil despises and the Lord Jesus loves. There are five specific passages of Scripture where Jesus refers to and addresses this topic. Isn’t He so good to leave us with such blessed words, knowing that we would struggle and desiring to help us as we stumble along?
First, I would like to start with a passage from the psalms. Jesus has been good to show me many prayers, most of which are from the heart of the struggling kings of Israel, that often echo my own sentiments and pains. The one that He brought me across today that I found myself crying out to Him with was Psalm 119:9-16, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” Wow! First the writer of this section of the psalm starts off with going to his heart, addressing that the only way we can be cleansed from anxiety and find freedom is by heeding God’s Word. He makes it clear in this passage that God’s Word holds immense power. It is through it that we find freedom, security, and hope.
The second passage of Scripture He led me to was 1 Peter 5:5-7, “Likewise . . . be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Jesus brings us to a place of humility so that we can then recognize our need for Him. Once we recognize that need, we are able to come to a place where we can cast our cares upon Him in a truly freeing and cleansing way. When we try to come to Him of our own accord, with our own solutions and ideas in mind, He cannot truly free us from anxiety because there is too much “me” blocking the way. There is too much “me” blocking His voice. Once that is cleared and we realize that we are but simple, desperate humans in need of a Savior, those voices and doubts hold no place of importance or dominance in our minds and His Word prevails.
I already somewhat addressed this passage, but I still think it is important to discuss. Matthew 6:25-34 says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat’ or ‘What shall we drink’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
There is so much packed into this one passage of Scripture! I love how Jesus takes many personal, relateable experiences to help solidify a very important truth in our minds. Everything He states is matter-of-fact and basic. First He starts by stating the command itself, and makes it simple in our minds by asking if life is more or less important than food and clothes. I can practically hear Him shouting, “There is so much more to life than material things! I made you to do so much more and focus on so much more than food, clothes, etc. All that is secondary to the plans I have for you!” He then reminds us of our value, comparing us to birds and animals that are not made in His image; if He cares for them, why would He not care for us? In verse 32, He then says something that struck me: God knows what we need. He knows. How could He not? He made us, did He not? Why would He not know? And yet, how often do we forget? How often do we think we have to remind Him of what we need, thinking that He has forgotten? Food and clothes are important to us; He made those things so that we would have them; so why would He not care? Finally, God will never allow us to be helpless. He will always provide what we need.
Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” When we present ourselves to God to be reformed, He renews us and transforms us to be and think more like Him. Our God is not a God of worry or anxiety or stress. He is a God of hope and joy. Once we are able to come to Him and allow us to be transformed and have our minds conformed to match Him and His thinking, we come attuned to Him and His ways of thinking and believing and living.
This last passage of Scripture is also familiar to many, but is still jam-packed with awesome truth from the mouth of God. Joshua 1:2-9, “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give the. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” God commands us to have courage and faith in Him. He expects us to do so because He gives us all we need to be able to. And not only that, but He will reward us for our faith. He doesn’t have to do that; we should do it anyway simply because He asks us to. But He does because He can. Because He is good. Because He loves us and is our good, good Father.
Jesus Christ walks with us every step of the way through this messy life. He gives us hope and love, something that is rare and hard to find anywhere else. When we are focused on Him, things like anxiety and stress have no power. They have no place in our life. They are worthless and useless and unnecessary because we have all we need through Him. It is my prayer today that I will keep my eyes fixed on Him, that “I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” (Psalm 119:16)
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.Proverbs 12:25