Whether it’s those nervous butterflies or crippling fears, anxiety is an inevitable part of human nature. We don’t choose to be anxious, it happens to us. Anxiety is an emotional reaction to the ‘What ifs’ in life.
What if my kids aren’t OK? What if we run out of money? What if she’s sick? What if she’s really sick? What if I don’t find someone? ...
Like an emotional smoke detector to our senses, anxiety let’s us know when there is a fire of fear burning within us.
My Experience with Anxiety
Ever since I can remember, my tendency has been to lean more towards caution than risk. You know the type. The friend that would literally list the ways that a decision could go wrong. The friend that would say, “I don’t know guys…” before they went off the ramp or jumped off the roof.
As I grew older this tendency to worry began to run my life. I’d worry about what other people thought about me. I’d worry about failing in school and sports. I’d worry about my looks. I’d worry about my family. With all the changes that happened in my life over those adolescent and college years, worry was the one thing that stayed consistent.
Like a glowing ‘Check Engine’ light to my soul, anxiety was letting me know something was off internally. Not knowing how to fix myself I did what most people do - ignore the light and keep driving.
Looking Under the Hood
Maybe this is your story as well? It could be a challenge you’re facing that that dominates your thoughts. It could be a fear that even when everything is as it should be, the bottom is going to drop out any minute.
One of the blessings of anxiety is it causes us to go in search of answers. When we can’t find answers we usually end up going in circles. The problem is apart from Christ there is no answer to finding lasting peace in this life. Not a ‘peace’ that’s an absence of hardships. A peace that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:6). A peace that even when circumstances are out of control somehow Christ’s love, security, and presence holds true as the anchor in the storm. That solution is only found in the gospel.
Step One: Who’s Your Master?
Jesus says to his disciples three times in Matthew 6:24-34, “Do not be anxious.” The only way that this kind of transformation can happen is when the God of the gospel is bigger than your fears.
“24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…” - Matthew 6:24-25a
Jesus draws a line in the sand and says choose wisely who you will serve because you have to choose one. The therefore means that the reason we are told ‘do not be anxious’ is a result of you having God as the master you serve. If you have money or things as your master, then you should worry about your life because those things aren’t trustworthy. If God’s the one that you serve, you can trust God to provide you with what you need.
Step Two: Magnify God’s Truths
Jesus continues to give a logical progression of examples and promises as to why we should trust him. Since anxiety is a reaction to worry - Jesus gives us a list of reasons to not worry once we’ve received his grace in the gospel.
While you can read the whole passage of Matthew 6:24-34, below are some bullets of truth to help you fight anxiety (pun intended).
Truths seen in nature.
- You are more valuable than the birds of the air and God feeds them. (v. 26)
- You are worth more to God than the lilies in the field and God clothes them. (v. 28)
- You have a greater purpose than the grass of the fields and God causes it to grow. (v. 30)
Truths we have experienced are true.
- What good does worrying do, really? You can’t even add an hour to your life by doing it. (v. 27)
Truths seen relationally.
- You are not an orphan. You have a heavenly Father that knows what you need.
Step Three: Seek First God’s Kingdom & God’s Righteousness
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:33
Jesus ends with the point he began with. He’s inviting us into something cosmically big. Something larger than our generation or our life span. He’s inviting us into being a part of His forever kingdom. He’s made us to be ambassadors of this Kingdom in our time here on earth.
“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing.” (v. 25)
Yes, it is. And with Christ at the center he helps us find peace for our worries and overcomes our anxiety.