On Fear and Anxiety: The Solution to Worry
“And He said to his disciples, “For this reason, I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat, nor for your body, as to what you will put on.
For life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” (Luke 12:22-23)
Worry is always an issue of control---or maybe better said, the lack of control. During days of great uncertainty, the propensity to worry almost seems justified. In the last few weeks, worry may have seemed a more productive choice than railing against the forces that have been reordering our lives. Rehearsing the what is and what could be seems harmless enough considering the concern over the pandemic and the economic crisis afoot in the world.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose worry as a topic to address so specifically? Is worry really that big of a deal?
Worry doesn’t hurt others so if we choose to worry, then isn't it on us?
This may be true, but what we need to remember is that worry isn’t a neutral emotion. It circumvents our trust in God. When we worry, we become self-focused. The fear over what we can't control ironically becomes the thing that controls our attention. We lose sight of the kingdom of God, the reality where life actually is "more."
Jesus taught about worry because He cares about our welfare. Ultimately, he knows that worry is a trap that draws us out of relationship with Him. He is the One who gives the life we long for and he is committed to giving it to us as we trust him.
When I'm living outside the kingdom, all I want is a piece of cheesecake and a new pair of shoes. I look for an easy fix for my anxiety and worry. The truth is it never works. Right around the corner, there's a leftover fudge brownie and cute top from Anthropolgie calling my name!
The solution to worry is surrender. Surrendering involves turning from the temporal to the eternal. Surrender will require that we live in the tension of not wholly understanding “the more" God has for us. Trust requires a redeemed imagination and a growing vision of the kingdom where God's “will is done on earth as it is in heaven.” This happens over time as we grow up in Christ. Life in God's kingdom rests in our dependence on Him, not only for salvation from sin and death, but for our every need.
Surrender is the beginning of that lifelong process of learning to trust God for big and little things. Surrender understands every good gift has come from His hand.
Lord, these verses in Luke are so familiar, so elemental yet so profound. Forgive me for taking Jesus' instruction lightly. It’s hard not to worry. And it's hard to not want what I think I can control. Transform my desire so that I am focused on that which is truly life. I surrender again my need to control and trust my needs into your care.