I know that finals are upon students and that means many students become very worried and anxious this time of the semester. So, my questions for you today are – what do you worry about and what are you afraid of?
Do you worry about money, a job, tests, papers, relationships, family, the future, war, your body, illness, fitting in, etc?
The Word of God tells us about these situations in a very challenging way.
“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 important than food, and the body more important 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 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.” -Matthew 6:25-34
–The word for “worry” comes from a Greek word meaning “to strangle“. And “to strangle” is a good way of describing how most of us react to worry. It usually strangles our ability to live life to the full.
Of course Jesus tells us in the passage above that we are not to worry, but when He says this, what exactly does He mean? He means that our worries shouldn’t keep us from living life, from doing the right thing, and from continuing to offer our worries to Him.
St. Paul, like many early Christians, was persecuted for what he believed. Knowing all about the issue of stress and worry, he wrote to others to tell them on how to handle it:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Phil 4:4-7:
Paul tells us to handle our worries and anxieties by prayer, petition and thanksgiving. We must come to a certain point of thanking God for what worries us. What a challenge! To abandon ourselves and our wills to the providence of God is no easy task.
In most cases our worry is caused by a lack of faith and hope in God. We are declaring that we do not believe that God is in control or knows what is best for us. We should not be fearful or worry because God is in control! Of course this is harder in practice, but here are a few steps to help us.
step 1) Pray, hope and believe!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” -James 1:2-3
step 2) Reflect on the work of God. Look at the birds, the flowers and see how God takes care of them…then realize just how precious in His eyes you are.
“So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”” – Hebrews 13:6
step 3) live in the present and be patient. The future is not yours, only the present is. So, your goal is to make the present alive. How can we do that?
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12:12
step 4) take comfort in God. He wants to comfort you, but you must throw yourself at His mercy.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” -John 14:16
step 5) dump it all on God!
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:6-7
-Too often we tend to think of Jesus as less than fully man. But, He cried, he fell carrying his cross, He mourned the death of friends, and he dumped it all on his father, including his human desires of not wanting the cross…but still, He chose to do what He was called to.
1 Cor 12:7-9 says that “My grace is sufficient for you”.
Do we believe that? Sometimes better than others. Make an act of faith today – tell Jesus you believe in Him and then ask Him to strengthen the gift of faith you already have.
Jesus come and help us!
“I believe; help my unbelief!” -Rom 9:24