What are you worried about?

Kaity“The 2002 World Mental Health Survey found that Americans were nearly five times more likely than Nigerians to experience clinically significant levels of anxiety in any given year.”[1] According to the National Institute of Mental Health, America is now officially the most anxious nation on the planet. More than 18% of adults suffer from a full-blown anxiety disorder in any given year.

So what’s wrong with us? One writer called it “flurry and worry.” We are just too busy. Somewhere along the way we began believing “busyness is next to godliness,” but just because our calendars are full doesn’t mean we are living a full life!

On the other hand, Jesus too seemed to be overwhelmed at times. Mark described an occasion when Jesus “went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’” (Mark 3:20, 21) Of course he wasn’t either out of his mind or worried. Jesus was busy without being anxious. He often talked about this:

“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? 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? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 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. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So what was Jesus’ secret for dealing with stress and anxiety? First, Jesus reminds us that God knows what we need (v.32). Don’t doubt your Father’s love! Second, make sure your priorities are in order (v. 33). Think about it: when chaos is swirling around us prompting fear, anxiety, and stress, your moral compass – putting God first – will guide you through the maelstrom. Finally, don’t make it worse than it is by allowing the “if only” or the “what if” cloud your calm. Remember, Jesus said:

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (v. 34).

 

 

 

 

[1] Taylor Clark, Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool (2011)

 

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