Those in other parts of the world – and probably even my city – would consider some of my daily anxieties silly because I’ve never had to wonder about my next meal(s) or worry about an empty closet to keep me and my family warm. From a purely physical perspective of basic human necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, I have never been deprived – I’ve never had to worry.
Nonetheless, there are some times when I am worried. There are days I feel overwhelmed. I’ve experienced terrifying moments of fear. I’ve had dark days of discouragement. There will be days of disappointment from not getting what I wanted or thought was needed.
And maybe that’s the problem – me.
When I’m concerned about what I want, what I need, or what I think I need more than what God wants, I become anxious. When I’m concerned about good things and important people (like my family, my friends, and even my church) more than what God desires, I become worried. That’s why Jesus says,
Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25)
Life is so much more than basic needs, personal feelings, perceptions, desires, and wants here on earth. The greater reality than my physical, mental, and emotional needs is the spiritual reality that Jesus, the Messiah, is my whole life. Trusting God to meet my needs displaces all the fear, worry, and anxiety that fills my heart when I focus on me.
As a recovering people-pleaser, there are times I fret about not meeting the expectations or desires of others. Jesus spells out my problem with one word – idolatry.
Don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:31-32)
In it’s most basic form, idolatry is putting anything or anyone in the place that God alone deserves. The most basic solution to this human problem is trusting God. He alone is the source of life, the source of all good things, and the One who is worthy of our complete attention and devotion. Jesus speaks to me when my heart is set on the wrong things or people.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. (Matthew 6:33)
The cure for my idolatry is the same cure for my worry – set my mind on Who and what is in heaven rather than who and what is on the earth. Seeking the kingdom doesn’t mean we ignore the good things and important people in our lives. Seeking the King and His kingdom is a matter of prioritizing our attention. Trusting God is not a passive rest, but an active search for God’s will by praying, reading His Word, and obeying what He has made clear. And one day, when Jesus, who is my life, is revealed, then I will also live with Him in all His glory.
In the spring of 1905, Walter and Civilla Martin were visiting the Doolittles – friends in Elmira, New York. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for over twenty years. Her husband was, likewise, an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived joyful lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while the Martins were visiting with the Doolittles, Walter commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them the secret of their joy in the midst of pain. Mrs. Doolittle’s reply was simple: “If His eye is on the sparrow, then I know He watches me.” The beauty of this expression of simple faith gripped Civilla’s heart and that same evening she wrote the words for this song:
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
If you’re prone to worry like me, follow me…as I follow Jesus Christ.