The Weight of Worry

Text: Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” —Matthew 6:34

There’s a Swedish Proberb that says, “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” Even though worry cannot add any stature to our lives, it can certainly rob us of abundance and diminish the quality of our lives.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the man who learned how to live worry-free. He said to a friend, “I’ve lost my job, my car is being repossessed, and our house is in foreclosure, but I’m not worried about it.” His friend asked him why he wasn’t worried and he said, “Because I’ve hired a professional worrier. He is going to do all my worrying for me, and that way I don’t have to think about it.”

The friend was quite curious and asked him how much the professional worrier charges for that service. He said, “$5,000 a month.” “Wow,” replied his friend. “And how are you going to come up with that kind of money?” The recovering worrier just smiled and said, “That’s for him to worry about.”

That humorous illustration reminds me of God’s promise in 1 Peter 5:7. In the J.B. Phillips translation, that verse says, “Humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.” Now I’m sure that the Almighty Omnipotent One doesn’t actually worry for us, but His promise stands firm—He will indeed carry our burdens so that we don’t have to be crushed by them.

Jesus himself speaks about this in Matthew 6:25-27. He says, “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 than food, and the body more 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

It’s been noted that you can be as unfaithful to God through care as well as through covetousness. In other words, worry can siphon the life out of us to the same degree as that of greed, materialism, or worldliness. Worry is a form of pride because it involves taking concerns upon oneself instead of entrusting them to God in humility and faith. That might be a hard pill for some of us to swallow, yet Jesus offers us some wonderful counsel to deal with this malady: He says, “Cast your care upon me.”

There is a big difference between a godly weight of responsibility and an ungodly, untrusting worry. However, an ungodly, untrusting sense of worry will often masquerade as responsibility. We do well to know the difference because worry will never add a single hour to your life, but if you are not careful it will steal all that it can get.

So consider this, beloved: The next time you are overcome with worry, do exactly what Jesus instructed. Step outside and look at those birds. Zoom in on those lilies in the field. Breathe in that sense of natural “abiding” that emanates from their untroubled existence. As you observe those tranquil rhythms of creation, recall God’s ageless promise to you and “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). Trust Him. Believe Him. And take refuge in Him.

PRAYER

God, thank you for caring about every detail of our lives. You watch over us carefully with the deepest affection, and nothing that concerns us ever gets passed you. Teach us how to turn our worry into worship, our fear into faith, and our anxiety into anticipation of Your wonder. Teach us to trust. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for personal reflection, small group discussion, or dinner table conversations:

  1. What are your top three worries right now? How do you think worry affects us emotionally, physically, and spiritually?
  2. What three worries did Jesus discourage among His followers? Why? (Matthew 6:25)
  3. What creatures did Jesus use to illustrate God’s reliability as a provider? Why are God’s creatures consistently “fed and clothed”? (Matthew 6:26) Why should we take great comfort from the way the animal and plant kingdoms operate?
  4. What benefits does worry bring? (Matthew 6:27) What comfort can followers of Christ find in the beauty of nature? (v.30) What is the difference between planning for the future and worrying about the future?
  5. What does God do for His children when they keep the right perspective, refuse to worry, and trust Him? (Matthew 6:33) What steps can you take today to change your priorities from worldly ones to kingdom ones?

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