Most anyone who is a child of God and a worrier has struggled with Matthew 6:25-34 -
"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."
My first, natural response has always been, "Yeah. Right. I'll just turn off my brain and stop worrying. Easy." (That would be sarcasm, my friends!) It never made any sense to me. There are a number of things that work against this for me.
1. I'm a woman. Ask most any of us - we worry. I'm wired to be a caretaker, and part of that is worrying, fretting at times over other people's safety, health, happiness, and future.
2. I think way too much. Especially when I have nothing else to do, I think. And what do I think about? Often, I think about the future. Sometimes it's years in the future, sometimes it's only a few hours ahead. But I'm constantly thinking about it. And when there are situations that seem very tenuous, I think even more about them. (And no, this is not logical. It's illogical to spend more time thinking about the things you can't control. But tell that to my brain.)
As I've said in earlier posts, I have been ridiculously stressed about our finances and my unemployment. I spent most of this past week crying into my husband's shoulder because I was so worried. I prayed a lot and kept telling God, "I don't know what you want from me right now! If I can't teach, what am I supposed to be doing?" Not worrying just didn't seem possible. How can I turn off my brain?
And then I started doing a bible study that I had picked up at the Christian bookstore near my parents' home. One of them is about managing moods as a woman, and the other is about living above stress & worry. Both things are things I struggle with quite a bit. At one point, of course, the study on stress & worry pointed me to the above passage. I even looked up and told my husband, "I don't want to read this passage. I know what it says, and I still can't seem to do it!"
And it's true - I do know what it says. At least, I thought I did. You see, I had made a very large mistake. Almost every time I was struggling with worry, I stopped at the wrong spot. I stopped after it said, "So do not worry..." in verse 31. And then I would proceed to berate myself for worrying, feel guilty about worrying, and pray to ask God to help me to not worry so much. I would connect it to Philippians 4:6 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." And to 1 Peter 5:10, "Cast all your anxiety upon God, for He cares for you."
But, my friends, I was wrong. God is not telling us to stop worrying, and that's the end of it. He knows that we worry - He made us, after all. The point is not to try your best to just stop worrying. The point is that our focus is entirely misdirected.
The point is that when we worry, our thoughts are most definitely not on Christ. When we worry, our thoughts are consumed with the circumstances, with our fears, with our inadequacy.
I missed the point. Because I missed the key to not worrying - "BUT seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
You see, the key to not worrying about tomorrow isn't to "just stop worrying." It's to shift your focus. Rather than worrying all day about our finances and my unemployment, I need to seek Him FIRST. It doesn't mean that I still am not concerned. It doesn't mean that I won't still spend hours each day pouring through job listings and sending in applications. But it means that when I start to get truly anxious, when I start to question God and His trustworthiness, I need to stop and seek Him first.
That is how I am going to try to stop worrying. And I will trust that He is faithful. I will remind myself of the verse that sparked a total revival in my life two years ago this month - "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." ~Psalm 37:4