Overcoming Anxiety with the Gospel

Gospel work is a process. And there are days when it feels like the road ahead feels not just rocky, but downright treacherous. We’ve all been here. It is in these moments that it can feel difficult to go on with Christ’s work. When all feels hopeless, here are some ideas of what you can do.

Consider the Birds of the Air

We often forget just how holistic God’s work is. And God can manage the concerns of his creation, surely he can manage our concerns. Jesus once said:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you will eat, and not for your body, what you will wear. Is your life not more than food and your body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky, that they do not sow or reap or gather produce into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are? And who among you, by being anxious, is able to add one hour to his life span?” (Matthew 6:25–27 LEB).

Anxiety and worry is easy. Faith is hard. But if we lack faith, we need to look no further than the birds of the air to realize God’s faithfulness. And this isn’t some sort of “easy way out” theology. I am advocating that we actually stop and observe—contemplate, pray, and then act. Notice the order: stop, observe, contemplate, pray, and then act.

Once we visibly observe God’s work, trust in him becomes much easier. In the midst of hopelessness, we must realize that we serve a God who shows us everyday that we can indeed have hope (Hebrews 11:1).

Consider the Flowers of the Field

It can seem a bit cliché at times, but it’s an important reminder: God’s creation is beautifully clothed, so why would he not also care for you? In the same passage we have already looked at, Jesus goes on to say:

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not toil or spin, but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was dressed like one of these. But if God dresses the grass of the field in this way, although it is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not do so much more for you, you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28–30 LEB).

We struggle over our concerns of today, but how often do they merely fade into the background when tomorrow comes. At times, we wonder where God’s provision will come from while we forget what he did yesterday. Think of what God did yesterday—that may change everything about today.

Consider the “Value” Anxiety Brings

Anxiety brings no real value to our lives. Instead, it concerns our mind and occupies our time. It’s meant to distract us from what is real and important—what matters, which is our loving God and the work he wants to do through our hands. Jesus concludes his remarks about worry and anxiety by saying:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?,’ for the pagans seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, because tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31–34 LEB).

If we seek first God’s kingdom, everything else fades into the background. As we turn our focus from ourselves to Jesus, we see that our concerns about ourselves were really not that important at all. When we mentally place our fate in God’s hands—which it literally is anyways—our perspective shifts and we realize what’s most important: knowing God and accomplishing his purposes by loving others.

Why Our “Concerns” Truly Matter

It’s so easy to toil from one day to the next without acknowledging what God has done the day before. I make that mistake, and I’m sure you have made that mistake before too. And lest we think this is a small matter, let’s take a moment and contemplate why changing our perspective is so important.

When we change our perspective from our worries and concerns—from food, clothing, materialism, and even our personal goals—and turn our focus towards God’s goals, we have an opportunity to truly change the world. Around our globe there are people who are suffering in poverty, and people who have never had the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus. If our perspective is skewed, we will never find the strength we need to address these issues. We will lack the courage necessary to do God’s work, because we will be paralyzed by fear. But if we have courage, imagine what could happen.

God has incredible things in store for this world. Joining him means partnering with him, and partnering with him means setting our eyes on Jesus.

 

Join us in providing access to the gospel in Bihar, India, where 101 million people have never heard the name of Jesus. Together, we can renew hope.




John Barry
John Barry

Author

CEO, President, and Founder of Jesus' Economy. John is the author/coauthor of 12 books and General Editor of Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary.



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