Do you worry? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by issues you don’t know how to fix? Are you constantly scared that you won’t get good enough grades, that you won’t have enough money to pay your bills, or even maybe that someone unpleasant in your life will unexpectedly stress you out? If so, understand it’s not Christ heart for us to live like that.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:33-34 NLT)
I knew today’s Bible verses since I was a child; they’re pretty well-known, especially if you grew up going to church. But I never got what the big deal was. That’s because I never quite understood how overwhelming stress can be–how almost impossible it becomes under the right circumstances to not practically gnaw your nails off with worry because you are afraid of something. I suppose that’s because even though I had issues at various times in life, none were so all-encompassing that they threatened to keep me up at night.
But now that’s all changed. I’m fifty-five years old, have three children between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four at various stages in their academic and professional careers, and a husband with medical problems: yes, I now have concerns that threaten to weigh on me mentally and emotionally. And some days I give in–actually, to be honest, for a while there, I lived in what can only be described as an almost constant state of anxiety. That is, until I understood what Jesus wants all of us to understand.
The truth is that life can be very hard, depending on various factors–some of which are self-inflicted, some of which are not; some which we can control, others less so or not at all. Yet we have to get through the difficult time. We have to continue to function. And we have to not kill our bodies physically by acquiring stress-induced ailments like ulcers and high blood pressure. So, how do we do that?
We do that the only way possible–by walking by faith, not by sight. We may not be able to see the solution right now, but we have to trust God does. Jesus promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. God’s Word tells us that all things work together for good to those who love God–to those who are called according to His purposes. And we are assured that if we meet but two criteria–if we 1) seek God’s kingdom and 2) His righteousness in us–God will give us everything we truly need. Granted, my opinion of what I genuinely need may or may not agree with God’s all-knowing judgment of what I really truly need, but on this account, I can trust He knows best.
So, how do I tackle the scary anxiety when it threatens to overwhelm me? Mentally and emotionally, I take a long breath and jump–right into Christ’s arms, figuratively speaking. I trust that He knows how scared I am, that He knows what it is that I need, and that He is totally capable of providing it–and I don’t let the fear control me. Part of going through difficult times is not merely learning to tolerate a certain amount of mental discomfort–it is doing what needs doing, and then letting go of the rest.
Remember–Jesus told us how to do this. He said, “don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
We do it is one day at a time–that’s the key to it. Sure, we need to plan for the future and do what we can to provide for it, but when things are genuinely overwhelming, getting an ulcer won’t make anything better. One day at a time–one day’s concerns are enough.
So, is there anything specific we can do when things get tough?Apart for the obvious practical things that need to be done, our best strategy is to make sure our priorities are in the right place. Am I really concerned about spreading the gospel and furthering Christ’s kingdom? Am I longing and praying for an ever-increasing degree of holiness in me? Or is my Christianity superficial? Jesus promises no provision to those who aren’t His–who don’t really follow Him. Let’s make sure we do!
Help me deal with the difficult situations in my life by first and foremost seeking Your kingdom and righteousness, and then by handling the issues one day at a time. Amen.