Do Not Worry
Surely we’ve all tasted the futility of worrying.
We have spent a long night looking at a problem from every angle, considering every potential outcome. By meditating on it carefully, we have planned our response, lined up all our options, and tried to cover every outcome.
But it keeps breaking down. The connections keep failing. The ‘what ifs’ keep multiplying. And we finally reach the moment where we have to say that we just can’t figure it out and we cannot control what will happen. Such is the misery of worrying: it can become a heavy load that squeezes the joy out of being a child of God.
So maybe someone has quoted Matthew 6:34 to you before, and it left you feeling like a spiritual failure. “Do not worry about tomorrow,” Jesus said—but I do worry! Or maybe you’ve spent a sleepless night repeating this passage over and over: “Do not worry, do not worry”—yet the worries kept worming their way into your heart like unwelcome houseguests. But it is exactly this passage which gives hope:
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:25-27).
Jesus says that it is so much better to simplify, to narrow your focus. To worry about today—to be concerned with today—and nothing more. Christ is telling us to face the demands of each day, and only that day, without devoting our energies to the future. Try not to think about all the things which may or may not happen. That scary and unknown place called ‘the future’ is God’s territory. You don’t have to visit there.
And then we strive to remember that God wants us to have a better focus. He says: “Don’t be so concerned with the infinite details of your life. Don’t try handle it all by yourself. But look to me, your God. Today, fix the eyes of your heart upon the Lord!”
Probably one of the biggest faults of our worrying is that it is blind. Worrying fails to perceive the lessons that God puts right in front of us, like the lessons of his wise care and kind provision.
More than that, worrying is terribly forgetful, like the worst case of spiritual dementia. It refuses to hold onto things that could be learned from the past, the lessons of God’s constant faithfulness toward you.
So Christ in Matthew 6 takes us back to school. He says, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (v. 26). It’s not that birds don’t work. It has been said that the average songbird works harder than any other creature: always flying, grooming itself, tending to the young. Yet a bird does so without any anxiety. There is no attempt to stockpile food against an unforeseen future, no apparent desire to build a luxury nest with a home-theatre and a pool. Their lives go on because God feeds them!
“That’s fine for the birds,” someone says, “Sparrows don’t have home loans or arthritic knees or big pressures like I do at work. But what about all my troubles?” Jesus is gentle in his reminder to us:
Are you not more valuable than the birds of the air?
He reminds us, “Your heavenly Father feeds them” (v. 26). He’s saying, “My little ones, remember that you have a Father who loves and cares, a Father who is faithful and true.”
And remember what He can do! He’s the Creator and Upholder of the universe. That means there is nothing He can’t handle. If you’re his child, then you’ve got nothing at all to fear.
And “consider the lilies of the field,” Jesus goes on (v. 28). These flowers bloomed for only a day on the hills of Palestine. Just one day, yet in their brief life they were clothed with a radiant beauty that surpassed the robes of kings. In the end, withered and dry, these flowers were used to light someone’s oven.
If God gives those insignificant flowers such beauty, even for a short time, won’t He bless us always? The LORD didn’t redeem us with Jesus’s blood and give us new hearts only to let us be swallowed up by some earthly trouble. He created us to be part of his family, to rejoice in communion with him!
His desire is that we thrive in the blessed life of trust and obedience. And if God will take care of our life, who needs to worry? Not us!
For after all these things the Gentiles seek.
Why does Jesus mention the Gentiles in verse 32? He does, because these are the heathen, those who don’t know God. These are the unbelievers on our street, the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, the atheists and everyone who doesn’t really know the true God. The point is, these unfortunate people don’t know what God can do.
All that the pagans know is their own gods and idols. And their gods are non-existent, crafted in their own image. No wonder the unbelievers worry so much—they’ve got nowhere firm to stand, nowhere to take refuge, no one to trust.
But it’s beyond understanding if we do the same. Let us remind ourselves often that we have no reason to worry. Because we’re not Gentiles or unbelievers. We are children of the loving Father! In Christ we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
So may He help us, more and more, to give up our worrying and learn again to trust in God our Father.