5 Truths to Help You Move Past Anxiety
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. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matt. 6:25-34).
Anxiety is painful, and as most who’ve experienced anxiety know, it doesn’t help anything. But all of us get anxious at one time or another.
In Matthew 6:25-34, while giving the famed Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses how to deal with our anxiety. He both judges and comforts us. Jesus condemns anxiety as rebellion against the holy God. But he also promises that everyone who trusts this holy, loving God will be rescued from worry.
Jesus teaches five truths to lead us from anxiety about life into adoration of God.
1. Anxiety Is Idolatry
Jesus said a person can only serve one lord at a time. In Israel, service wasn’t just about work—it was about worship. The priests served God in the temple.
Jesus says you’ll either worship God or worship the stuff you’re anxious about. Anxiety shows us what we really love—what we really worship. That’s why Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious” (v. 31). We will either serve the real God or a false one born out of our anxiety.
That should feel like a punch in the stomach. We love idols and worship false gods. The good news is that Jesus suffered the wrath we’d earned. We may experience anxiety coming into our minds and hearts, but we don’t have to choose to dwell in it. What we do with the emotion is what’s key. As God’s children, we can obey him rather than our emotions. And as we do, we’ll feel our anxiety fade away.
2. Anxiety Shows Who We Think Is in Charge
Jesus tells us not to worry about the material things we need to survive (vv. 25-31). It is our natural inclination to assume that material things like food, clothes, and shelter sustain life.
Yet, Jesus tells us that choosing to rely on material possessions wrong. Those things don’t sustain life. God does. True, he usually uses those things to protect us. But food isn’t in charge; God is. However, when we treat food and other material things as though they sustain life, we forget that God is God and they are not.
The good news is that when we ask God for forgiveness, he grants it, and he reminds us that he loves us and is in control.
3. Anxiety Reflects Ignorance
Jesus tells us not to worry because that is what people who don’t know God do (v. 32). They seek security in the world around them because they don’t know God. They don’t know the loving, all-powerful Creator. So, when we worry, we are acting like we don’t know God either. But Jesus has granted us spiritual sight. He’s shown us that God knows what we need, is in control, and loves us.
Yet, sometimes we need a reminder. So, let’s allow these verses to remind us, and let’s remind each other about the security that only comes from the great and loving God we serve.
4. Anxiety Reflects Short-Sightedness
Jesus started the Sermon on the Mount by declaring that those who believe in him have God’s favor. He promised that they would inherit the kingdom of God, enter God’s presence, and actually see God.
Jesus tells us to seek the kingdom of God, where everything is “righteous” (v. 33). If we obtain the kingdom of God, all our needs will be met.
Now, Jesus didn’t say how or when they’d be met. We may lack something today or even go through serious pain today. But we’ll never lack what is needed to arrive in God’s eternal kingdom. And in his kingdom, we’ll never lack anything we need. What’s more, we’ll have God himself.
When we worry, we’re acting like children who can’t see past the next twenty minutes. But, when we live for righteousness, when we live seeking to obey Jesus’s commands, the burden of anxiety is overshadowed by the promise of the eternal kingdom.
5. Anxiety Reflects Unrealistic Expectations
Jesus was careful to explain that those who belong to his kingdom will not have their best life now (v. 34). That’s why Jesus said that each day has enough pain of its own. We don’t have to add the bad things from the next day to it!
The good news is that we have the favor of God now so we will inherit heaven in the future. Furthermore, God is even in charge of bad things. Nothing escapes his direct involvement. And all the more, he loves us. He had his own Son, Jesus, punished and executed in our place so we could be with him forever. We can trust him.
Moving Past Anxiety
Knowing these five realities that Jesus teaches isn’t enough to rescue us from anxiety. We have to trust Jesus. So, relying on him, ask God for help. Start by making a list of the things causing you anxiety right now. Then go to God in prayer:
- Thank God that he loves us
- Thank God that Jesus died for our sins, including our sin of dwelling in anxiety
- Thank God for reminding us about who he is—our loving Father who is in control
- Ask God to free you from worry and anxiety
- Confess that you are treating the things on your list like they are God; ask for forgiveness
- Ask God for a faith that will rest in his promises
- Ask God for strength to focus on obeying him rather than on worrying about things he has under control
- Ask God to cause people around you to see the peace you have regardless of the circumstances
- Ask God to use the way he’s changing your mindset to draw people to himself