I make lots of lists.
Lists of things to do for the day.
Lists for the grocery store.
Lists for packing.
Lists of pros and cons.
Lists of action steps.
You get the idea.
But, today, I thought I’d make a new list.
I thought it might be a fun idea to list all of the ways that my worries, my fears, and my anxieties bless my life.
Making such a list never crossed my mind, before.
So, let’s get to it.
How does worry and anxiety help me?
Here we go:
Worry distracts and divides my mind, thus confusing me.
Worry consumes my thoughts and often disrupts my sleep.
Worry is fatiguing. It makes me tired.
Worry negatively affects my relationships.
Worry affects my concentration and focus.
Worry renders me incapable.
Worry causes me to be impulsive and unwise.
Worry makes me irritable.
Worry causes great distress, and in some people, panic attacks.
Worry causes me to distrust others and to distrust God.
In summary, worry, damages my health, harms my relationships, and separates me from my Lord and Savior.
Worry doesn’t improve my life, but often makes it much worse.
What an uplifting, encouraging list!
You disagree with me that worry is helpful?
Well, my friend, you’re not alone.
Jesus would contend that my worry and anxiety list is not a list of benefit and advantage, but rather a list of hindrance and disadvantage.
In fact, Jesus is very direct and to the point when he discusses worry and fear. We’ve often read his words, but considering the benefit list of worry, it’s no wonder that Jesus tells us to
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
New International Version, Matthew 6: 25-26
What does Jesus want us to do, instead of worrying and being anxious?
He wants us to experience an unshakeable confidence in our heavenly Father and seek Him for every worry, care, and concern in our lives. Since it is our heavenly Father who created us and gave us life, how could He not provide for us and meet our needs of life today – our food, our clothing, and our shelter and any other necessary thing?
But, will we trust Him for our needs and the needs of our family?
Having two special needs children, John and I are very cognizant of the peculiarities, the issues, the challenges and the obstacles that our children face each day as a result of their disabilities. As we consider Jake and Caleb’s future – a future without us one day – we can easily be consumed with worry for our sons and live into that ‘helpful, encouraging’ list of anxiety benefits.
Jesus doesn’t want us to worry about Jake and Caleb and their future.
He wants us to trust our heavenly Father for our sons and their every need.
Jesus knows that worrying and fretting over this-that-or-any-other-thing and laboring in such a way, demonstrates our distrust in God and is harmful to our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
So why do we worry then?
There is no health benefit.
There is no work benefit.
There is no relational benefit.
There is no spiritual benefit.
Jesus tells us,
“Do not worry about your life….”
And instead, exhorts us:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
New International Version, Matthew 6: 33-34
Jesus knows that by seeking the righteousness of God we will experience contentment, joy, grace and hope found in Christ independent of our outward circumstances, our worries, our fears, and our anxieties.
And when we are content, we are grateful.
Isn’t that a great benefit of not worrying?
So, how about another list?
What are the helpful, encouraging benefits of not worrying?
I am content.
I am joyful.
I experience hope.
I stand upon the ground of grace in Christ.
My heart overflows with gratitude.
How is this possible?
I am trusting my God to care for my life, my children’s lives, and every-other-little-and-big thing and letting tomorrow care for itself. Remember, Jesus says, “Tomorrow will worry about itself.”
So, why not trust tomorrow to do just that? Let tomorrow’s worries worry about themselves – they are not mine to take today.
Listen. I know life is difficult. Living in southern Africa, believe me, I’ve seen the definition of hardship and struggle and then some. But I have also observed my friends there – living with no access to water, no access to electricity, with no firm control of where their food is going to come from next, with financial concerns, with significant health challenges, and so many other difficult issues, I admire how they choose to trust their God again and again and again. They inspire me in the way they seek their God for their need and trust Him to fulfill each need. And in time, in His way, He does!
Friends, we’ve got just a month and a few days left in 2019, wouldn’t it be a fabulous thing to live into Jesus’ command:
Do not worry about your life
– and see what happens when we do?
What would it take?
Jesus tells us.
Look to Him.
Depend upon Him.
Let’s do it!
Will we choose to stop worrying?
Let’s choose one situation, one person, or one need, and trust our heavenly Father for it.
Let’s see what happens!