It is interesting that there are very few if any subjects that attract attention more than anxiety. It seems to go with life. There are so many things to be anxious about. For you and me it can be anything from a lost key to gaining a fortune on the national lottery. In Jesus’ day, according to the Sermon on the Mount, it was the basic necessities of life – what to eat or drink, or what to wear (Matt 6:25-32). In either case anxiety seems to enter the picture, absorb our time, take its toll on our nerves and make living somewhat of a chore rather than a happy experience.
Jesus tells his listeners that since God feeds the birds who haven’t stored up seed for the winter and clothes the flowers of the field that haven’t done a thing to make themselves presentable, certainly he will take care of them. “Are you not of greater value?” he asks (v. 30). Why is it that anxiety is so prevalent in our land? I remember when I was doing a lot of public speaking that I drew my largest crowds if the subject had anything to do with anxiety. It may be that since life is so unpredictable there is cause for concern. But is there? The things we are most anxious about are things over which we have no control. Will the plane get there in time that I can catch the last shuttle? Will Saturday be sunny for our picnic? Will the person of my choice win the election? We have very little, if anything, to do with the outcomes of “anxieties” like these. And where we have the opportunity to take action, the “anxiety” turns into a “concern” and of course, concerns are manageable so there is nothing to worry about.
Isn’t it intriguing that we waste our nervous energy on items over which we have a little or no control? For the believer who claims that God is sovereign and takes care for his own, anxiety is actually a sort of “Christian atheism.” We act as though there were no God. We don’t go hungry if the cupboard is full of food. We don’t have to go naked if the closet is full of clothes. We don’t have to be anxious if God is in control of our life! Worry is a declaration that our God is not up to it. Wow! Better just relax for a moment and reflect on the old comparison of worry and the rocking chair – both give you something to do but neither gets you very far. Max Lucado rather jokingly suggested that we deal with anxiety as did the man who hired another to do his worrying for him at $200,000 per year. When the one hired asked him where he would get that kind of money, he responded, “That’s your worry.” Not exactly scriptural, but a good approach to the problem. More seriously, Jesus counsels, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all those things will be given to you as well” (v. 33). What God promises is, as they say, a “done deal.”