Letting Go Of Anxiety
Anxiety has become the norm in our society and the church is not exempt. Sometimes its debilitating and you other times it just boils under the surface. Covid-19 has raised the temperature even higher as we now have loved ones to worry about and a financial future that is uncertain.
Jesus took the time to address the issue in his famous sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7. His teaching should calm our fears and give us a renewed hope for the future as he brings us back to the proper perspective
Here are three ideas from Jesus’ teaching that will help us let go of the anxiety that plagues many of us:
Anxiety is connected to what we love most
The more we value something the more likely it will be that we will experience anxiety with that thing. The tighter we hold something or someone the more common it will be for anxiety to hold us even tighter. We aren’t terribly anxious about other people’s kids-we’re anxious about our own. We’re not overly concerned about our neighbor’s job; we’re concerned about our own.
Jesus doesn’t tell us to forget about these important things-he just tells us to put them in perspective. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they (Matthew 6:26)?”
If we want to let go of some anxiety in our lives start by acknowledging how those good things we are holding onto have been elevated in our life to a place they were never meant to be. It’s almost always a good thing that becomes a god thing.
Anxiety thinks less about God and more about ourselves
The best weapon we have to fight fear and anxiety is faith that God is good and he’s in complete control over every circumstance. Jesus says, “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 (Matthew 6:31-32).”
Anxiety for the Christian is an odd trade off. It’s saying, “I trust God for salvation but not for right now,” or “I trust He saved me from damnation but I can’t trust him in the details.”
Fear and anxiety are ultimately driven by our view of God. What if I lose my job? What if I get sick? What if I’m still single this time next year? If we can trust that God is good and has our best interest in mind then we’ll be able to see His guiding hand in all the situations that give us anxiety. The Apostle Paul said, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?”
Anxiety offers empty promises
Anxiety makes false promises and false predictions. The vast majority of what we worry about will never take place at all! We worry about 1,000 things and 99% of them won’t happen. And for the 1-2 things that do happen we have a God that promises to walk us through it. What if there’s a second wave of Covid and I’m part of it? We don’t need to worry about this winter because we know who’s already there. What if my small business gets shut down again? God is there!
Charles Spurgeon rightly said, “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”
Jesus’ antidote to our anxiety and the key verse in the passage is Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” My challenge for all of us is to (1) name the thing or person we’re holding too tightly, (2) remind ourselves consistently of God’s goodness even when e don’t see it and (3) look back on the ways anxiety has lied to us over the years when our God never has and never will!