Reading: Matthew 6:25-34
How easy it is to worry about things. We can be anywhere, sitting in our car, at home, doing the shopping, the gardening, talking with friends on the phone or over the fence, lying in bed as you try to get to sleep. Worrying is one of those things that can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. No training is required, we’re all experts!
I love having bird feeding stations in the garden as I enjoy watching how they dart about getting the seed that is in the feeders and on the bird table. I also get blackbirds and thrushes looking for worms and there have been many occasions when I have seen them catch a worm, and quickly it is gone.
All of this reminds me vividly of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-26,
‘… do not worry about your life… 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?
At this particular moment in time it is very easy to worry about our current situation and Covid-19. I am very aware that many have been extremely cautious, not going out, having as much as possible hand delivered, not handling items delivered for 48 or even 72 hours, and sanitising everything that comes into their homes.
I am aware of many who are worried about their health, and that of their relatives, because they are more vulnerable, either because of their age, or because of underlying health issues. Now with the new strain of coronavirus many are worried about younger people as they seem more vulnerable than before. And we can go on adding to our worries.
Through these words from Matthew 6 Jesus is warning us of the ill effects of worrying. We’re reminded of God’s promise that He will provide us with all our basic needs.
You see, worrying damages our health; worrying can end up consuming all our thoughts; it can disrupt our productivity, and impair our relationship with God. Worrying can negatively affect the way we treat others causing us to snap at them and rebuff them. Worrying can lead us to reduce our trust in the Lord. You see, worry immobilises, whereas concern moves us to action!
There are many strategies out there for coping with our worries. This is one that I have come across. Perhaps we could use it….
START A WORRY LIST.
Write down what you’re worried about. The bills. Your job. Your children or grandchildren. Your health. The future.
THEN TURN YOUR WORRY INTO A PRAYER LIST.
Ask the Lord to show you how He wants you to let Him work in those situations you’re concerned about. Remember Jesus only ever did what He saw his Heavenly Father do in Heaven (John 5:19). As you do this you allow Jesus to live through you, not just in you. Jesus depended totally on His Father whilst He was here on earth. As our model that is what we are to do also, and this will lead us to pray specifically for our needs and deepen our dependence and trust on Him.
NEXT TURN YOUR PRAYER LIST INTO AN ACTION LIST.
If you receive insight from the Lord on something you can do for your cares, do it. Through the graciousness of our Lord He can enable us to turn our worries into prayer and action. The result of this is that our paralysing anxiety can be replaced by concern for the responsibilities of life as worries immobilise, whereas concern moves us to action!
Why not start right now?
As you start can I encourage you to mediate or reflect on these verses…?
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
The words ‘We know’ here means that as Christians we already know that we have had this experience. God is already working in our lives. Undoubtedly we have in the past suffered pain and disappointment. At the worst of these times God was working for our benefit. After all He is our Father, who loves us, and so He promises to continue to look after the people who love him.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)
As Christians, God not only lives with us but He also lives in us. We are the house of God.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
for ever. (Psalm 23:6)
As believers in Jesus we can say with confidence, “I will always live (dwell) in the house of the LORD.” The house of the LORD is in heaven.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10)
Because God is omnipresent he is always with us, we cannot hide from Him, so He always knows our worries. Give them to Him.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3 NIV)
Christ came so that everyone could have a full life (John 10:10), and this full life comes when we concentrate on Christ, whereas concentrating on the world leads to worry.
The words from Psalm 40 are amazing. They offer such hope! They help us to put aside any worries we have.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
A Chinese Christian told this parable:
A man fell into a dark, dirty pit, and he tried to climb out but he couldn’t. Confucius came along. He saw the man in the pit and said ‘Poor fellow. If he had listened to me, he would never have fallen in.’ And he left. Buddha came along and he saw the man in the pit and said, ‘Poor fellow. If he can climb up here, I’ll help him.’ And he too left. Then Christ came along and said ‘Poor fellow!’ And he jumped into the pit and helped him out!
Isn’t that amazing? Our God is the only God prepared to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty to sort us out! No other God does this.
In Psalm 55:22 we are encouraged to cast all our cares on the Lord because he will sustain us; he will rescue us from the “pit”. As He does this He will give us a new song to sing, a song to sing because we’ve experienced God’s deliverance from trouble through His Son.
Know and live out this truth: God will never let the righteous be shaken.
As we start this new year may we cast our cares on the Lord, for God is calling us to trust Him to meet all our needs, for when we trust in Him alone He will dispel all our worries and replace them with concerns that move us to actions that are in line with His Kingdom actions and thus reveal to us His divine righteousness living in us.