“And what does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; but, oh, it empties today of its strength.”
Alexander Maclaren, Anxious Care
For all its maliciousness and sinfulness, anxiety is frighteningly common among Christians. Over the years, I’ve wrestled with crippling anxieties that have stopped me in my tracks, driven me away from my God and left me broken in tearful anguish. And the more I’ve spoken with faithful believers, the more I’ve realized how non-exclusive this struggle is. I’ve seen it ravage the hearts of friends and loved ones and it grieves me to consider how anxious we as Christians can be. As people who serve a sovereign God who cares and knows our struggles, this should not be the case.
Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with considering and preparing for the future, but anxiety is quite different. Anxiety is an apprehension, driven by an obsession with anticipating an uncertain future with all of its outcomes. Anxiety is best characterized by faithlessness. When you get anxious, have you ever noticed how quickly you dismiss God’s care, His power, and ultimately, His commandments? In these situations, faith is substituted for pride, which compels us to think that we are hopeless and motivates us to focus on ourselves and our circumstances.
When we are overcome with anxiety we are committing our attention and energy toward thinking about a worst-case scenario future in which no outcome can be known or prepared for. It is a futile effort and draws us away from the work God would have us to do.
In Matthew 6, Christ speaks directly to this issue of anxiety. Jesus rebukes His followers, who had become focused on accumulating wealth and securing their future rather than living faithfully. Without their money, they wondered how they would exist. Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Christ commands them, as He does so with us regarding our own anxieties, to first prioritize the kingdom of God, and trust in His provision. Let us not be so compelled by our anxieties, but instead, always focus on doing God’s work. We can cast our fears onto Him in faith knowing that He will meet our every need. I know it’s not easy, but time is too short for us to be stalled by anxiety.
Here are some practical tips for when you’re confronted by it:
- Remember that you have a God who cares for you and knows your struggles.
- Reflect on how God has been faithful to you in the past.
- Be faithful to always prioritize the kingdom of God.