Week 1: Anxiety

Scripture:
Jesus Gets Anxiety

“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?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

MATTHEW 6:25-34 (NIV)

devotional 1

Anxiety often enters our lives quietly and without notice.

As we navigate through the different phases of life, we find ourselves exploring various paths and options. Whether it’s sports, music, or art, books, shopping, or gaming, we identify our interests, strengths, and values, making choices that shape our lives. Think about the decisions you’ve made: the summer job you took, the team you joined, the college you chose, the house you bought, the family life you’ve built, or where you’ve decidedto retire.

At some point, anxiety starts to surface. We question if our choices have led us to the right people and if they’ll help us achieve our goals.

Over time, the decisions we make define the skills we’re recognized for. We become known for being “good at sports” or “talented in music,” and these labels also become a way we understand ourselves, intertwined with our choices around faith and community.

In this context, one might expect a religious admonition to renounce worldly desires for the sake of spiritual depth. Yet, Jesus offers a surprising perspective, acknowledging in Matthew 6:32 that our heavenly Father understands our needs for essentials like food, shelter, and relationships. Jesus doesn’t discourage these desires; rather, he points out that worry is the real issue.

Worry is problematic because it can overtake our lives, consuming time and energy that could be better spent. It acts like a thief, diverting our focus from our inner spiritual life to external concerns.

This is reminiscent of horror movies, where characters are perpetually fleeing a looming threat, their focus narrowed to their immediate fear, preventing any escape.

Similarly, worry transforms our aspirations into sources of fear, monopolizing our attention and life. The escape from worry lies in shifting our focus to something greater, a type of freedom Jesus promises. He offers not just liberation from worry but the opportunity for a fulfilling life.

Jesus didn’t just preach this; he lived it. Despite the threat from those who opposed his teachings, including religious leaders who sought his death, Jesus remained unburdened by worry. As his disciple Peter reflects in 1 Peter 2:23, Jesus, even in suffering, trusted in God’s righteous judgment rather than resorting to threats.

Jesus exemplified that placing our trust in God means our needs will be met, distinguishing between our wants and our necessities. He taught that beyond death, there’s hope for resurrection.

When worry consumes us, we risk missing the workings of God. Trusting God to meet our needs allows us to stop fretting over potential misfortunes and start anticipating the unfolding of blessings.

Jesus highlights that while “pagans RUN after all these things” (Matthew 6:32, emphasis original), worry does not extend our lives; it diminishes them. In contrast, Jesus offers eternal, resurrection life, encouraging us to use our time for exploration and discovery.

Instead of emulating the frantic pace of others or adopting a holier-than-thou stance, we are invited to embrace the restful existence Jesus offers. Echoing King David’s trust in Psalm 23:6, we can rely on God’s enduring goodness and love, assured of a place in the Lord’s presence forever. Jesus calls us to a life where we are pursued by God’s goodness, knowing our needs are understood and cared for.

devotional 2

Reread this week’s passage, Matthew 6:25-34.

 How often do you worry?

In your own words, what advice do you think Jesus is giving in this passage? (if helpful, write this down as a single sentence)

devotional 3

If you ignored tomorrow’s troubles, what troubles are you facing today?

Where might you need God’s presence or help in today’s troubles?

In prayer, ask God for help.

devotional 4

On the night of his arrest, before his torturous execution, Jesus brought his immediate troubles to God in prayer. Read Matthew 26:36-39.

How would you describe Jesus’ attitude toward his troubles?

Does anything here surprise you? Why?

devotional 5

Ignoring today’s troubles, what troubles do you expect to encounter tomorrow?

How can you face those troubles without anxiety by focusing on something greater or by being aware of “the possible connection of good things”?

In prayer, ask God for perspective.

devotional 6

Practice memorizing Matthew 6 verse 27 or 34. Write and rewrite. Speak it out loud and in your mind. Place the verse in a location where you will see it regularly. Take note of how embedding these words in your mind affects your attitude this week.