The cause of anxiety

Do you worry?

About your kids, perhaps, or that nagging pain in your abdomen. Or maybe it’s about how long it’ll be before our country’s thumbing its nose at God brings major consequences. Maybe you’re concerned that your retirement fund isn’t nearly big enough to pay the bills in your golden years (and who knows what’ll happen with Social Security?). And then, of course, there’s that persistent pain again . . . what could be causing that?

Your list and my list probably aren’t too different. We fret over things we can’t control and wring our hands over issues that won’t matter a hundred years from now. That’s not always the case, but it is more than it’s not.

In that sense we’re not too different from Jesus’ peasant audience two thousand years ago. They didn’t have 401(k)s or pills for their anxiety-induced indigestion, but they worried about their future just like we do.

Here’s what Jesus said to them:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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? (Matthew 6:25).

He goes on to explain how God takes care of the birds and the wildflowers—if he does that, won’t he take care of us, his children? And worrying doesn’t do any good at all anyway, Jesus says.

But at the root of it here’s his message: When we worry, it’s because we don’t trust God, not really. We think—whether we admit it or not—that the future God has planned for us may not be the future we want.

That’s presumptuous, isn’t it? We claim God as our omnipotent Father, trust Jesus Christ as our only Savior, then don’t trust them to work things out for the best. Doesn’t really make much sense.

So Jesus points us to the only One who can help us.

Is God in control? Look at creation, marvel at its beauty, complexity, and power.

Does he love us? Look at the cross and see his dying in our place.

If Satan can’t get us to give up our faith completely, he’ll at least try to make us miserable Christians. But that’s not what we want, and it’s not what Jesus wants for us. He wants us to believe him and trust him and submit to him. He wants to give us his peace and joy to sustain us no matter what.

There’s incredible potential in this heavily quoted part of his warning about anxiety: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and he’ll take care of the rest.

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