We all have worries. Some worries are bigger than others, some have more foundation than others, but they’re there in our lives. And they don’t go away easily. We know that our faith should make a difference. Scripture should help. But sometimes there seems to be a gap – a gulf between what we know and what we experience.
When anxiety hits, we often flick to passages like Luke 12:22-34. It’s one of the classic gospel narratives where Jesus says, “Don’t worry”. But how often do we come away from those verses feeling even more burdened? At a cursory glance, they just seem to up the stakes. They remind us that, by worrying, we’re doing something that Jesus tells us not to do! Hardly the relief we seek…
But dig a little deeper and we can find six glorious truths that can transform our experience of worry. Jesus’ gentle words remind us of:
1. Our identity (v23). It’s easy to think, in our materialistic 21st century world, that we are defined by what we own. That house, that car, that phone – they’re the things that make us, right? Surely our life will somehow be worse off if we don’t get them? Not according to Jesus. Our identity is found somewhere far deeper – not in what we own but in who owns us.
2. Our value (v24). In our achievement-driven society it’s tempting to think that we are only as precious as our contribution to the world. Successful doctors, talented actors, ground-breaking scientists – they are the ones who are worth something. The rest of us? We’re unimportant – maybe even worthless. But the God who cares deeply about the ravens of the field, taking care of their every need, considers us as far more precious than them. Valuable not because of what we will or won’t achieve, but because he has made us and loves us.
3. Our limit (v25-26). We act as if worrying will help. Sometimes we put a lot of energy into torturing ourselves with what may – or may not – happen. It won’t help. We can’t even add an hour to our life. And in the grand scheme of things, an hour isn’t very long! But God can do all things. Our energies are far better spent running into his loving arms.
4. Our glory (v27-31). We quickly push aside the truth that God is looking after us. Something deep inside us seems to scream, “try harder – you’ve got no-one to rely on but yourself”. Time to learn from the flowers, says Jesus. That beautiful lily, that scented rose, that exquisite orchid… they didn’t try hard to look that good, they didn’t try at all. If God will do that for them, how much more will he crown those he loves with glory – both now and for ever?
5. Our status (v32). We have a Father in heaven who knows exactly what we need. But instead of running after him, we run after material things. We act like spiritual orphans, presuming we have been abandoned in a hostile environment. But nothing could be further from the truth. We are spiritually rich and cared for eternally. We are the precious children of our heavenly Father.
6. Our possession (v32). Sometimes it crosses our mind that we lack what we need. Sometimes we kid ourselves that God has been stingy or reluctant to give us good things. But does that make sense? We have been given the Kingdom! God’s eternal Kingdom … What perspective that brings.
Remembering these things promotes change. These wonderful truths drive us out of our worries in a new direction. Instead of grabbing what we think we need, we can give to others out of the wonderful things we have been given. Instead of grasping for security, we can revel in our identity and serve others sacrificially. And that is a beautiful kind of life.
Download the audio of Steve Midgley’s bible reading at our 2016 residential conference Where Life and Scripture Meet.