How many of us have tossed and turned in our beds, trying to go to sleep, and yet sleep would not come because we are anxious about a particular situation that was happening? It is apparent that as the days go on, that more and more people are struggling with worry. Whether it is finances, health or even family, it seems that there is always something to worry about. Even the absolute zaniness of the upcoming presidential election, has caused many people to fret.
I have a Bible in my office that was given to me by a dear friend and mentor, and he had scribbled in the front cover this quote: “Worry is like a rocking chair—gives you something to do but gets you nowhere”. What a profound truth! We spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about things that we cannot change, or fretting about situations that are just simply beyond our control. To be worried is to be wearied, and honestly, how many people are just simply tired because their brains are in a constant state of anxiety?
In the greatest sermon ever recorded in all of history, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks to the issue of anxiety with such clarity and such poignancy. In the middle of saying that God takes care of the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, he goes on to explain, that God will do the same for you, because you are more valuable than they. Then Jesus asks “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life?”(Matt. 6:27). The answer is none. To worry adds nothing to your life, it doesn’t increase your life span, give you a better quality of life, nor does it give you any more control over a situation.
Worry comes from an unsettled and unbelieving heart; unsettled because the feeling of security is absent, and unbelief in the constant provision of God. To address that unsettled feeling, that is associated with worry, I want to remind us about the incredible sovereignty of God. God is in control of all things, period, and His authority is uncontested, as it says in Daniel 4:35 “He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” To say “God is in control” is no small statement, rather it is very steadying when life’s storms seem to hit us on every side. However, it is one thing to pay lip service to that truth, it is another thing entirely to believe it. Not only does worry cause us to be unsettled, because of a feeling of a lack of security, but also a feeling of lack of control. The truth is, if you really think about it, our control over our life is extremely minimal. As I am sitting here writing this piece I am astounded at the sheer number of things that are outside my control. There are things even within my own body that I do have direct control over. For example, my heart. It may all of a sudden stop beating whether I like it or not. The point is, that God is in control of our lives and in that blessed sovereignty we can find peace.
Worry is also a symptom of unbelief in God’s consistent provision. As shown earlier, Jesus Christ uses the birds and the flowers to illustrate God’s care over creation. Yet it goes deeper, Jesus doesn’t just reference God as just some impersonal entity, making sure creation is sustained, rather he calls God, “your heavenly Father”(Matt. 6:32). God, in His fatherly care not only assures you that He will provide for your needs, but also reveals the deeply relational aspect of Himself. I mean, what good father does not enjoy taking care of his children, and if God is our heavenly Father does He not do the same?
So when worry settles in, where are we going to turn to? The answer is not found in “where” but rather “whom”. Christ answers “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…”(Matt. 5:33). We look to God because He is in control, and He always provides exactly what we need.