This week I feel like January has finally picked up speed. I have a few extra things on my calendar, and events I once thought were so far away (“Oh, that’s not until March!”) are practically around the corner.
My third verse of 2015 is Matthew 6:31-34. The Seeds song is called “Seek First,” track 3 on “Seeds of Purpose.” Here is the text:
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The “do not worry/be anxious” commands from the Bible are interesting to me. Worry is so natural and easy for us, yet we’re told not to do it. Thankfully, we are also given instructions for what to do instead.
I love that. In my work with kids I have often been tasked with stopping a child from engaging in a certain behavior. In those situations my main focus is actually not the undesirable behavior, but rather teaching a new behavior to replace it. (I have my training in Applied Behavior Analysis to thank for this principle- behaviors do not just disappear into a vacuum! We are always doing something.) This is true for young children, but also true for us. Just like a preschooler wants to grab a toy out of his friend’s hands, we want to worry. It’s our go-to, knee-jerk response. It seems like our only option. I know the blank stare that follows telling a child not to take toys from someone else. It’s a look that says, “But how else am I supposed to get it?!?” The child is desperate; he feels like he truly needs that toy! So when I give the “do not” command, I need to be ready with the “but.” The “but” is the part that tells us what we should do to get what we need and feel at peace. With little kiddos it’s, “Do not grab a toy out of your friend’s hands, but ask him if you can play with that toy next, and play with something else while you wait.” (Which, as we all know, doesn’t always work out, and usually there is need for adult intervention as we teach this skill. But I think the analogy still works.)
For worry, it seems our command is, “Do not worry, but seek God.” The passage tells me (implicitly) that if God knows we need something, he will make sure we get it. Worrying will not solve my problem or meet my need. Seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness will lead to greater knowledge of his character, and part of that character is taking care of his children. He loves to meet needs and give good gifts to them in his wisdom and time. As far as food and drink and clothing, I am reminded of one of my favorite verses from Psalms: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” There is also Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” So instead of worrying I should look to God’s Word, trust his character, and keep taking those next right steps. He will make sure my physical needs are met, but more importantly his Spirit will give me peace in my mind and heart.
It’s my prayer that memorizing and meditating on this verse will lead to a week of less worry and more trust.
Do you have a favorite verse, quote, or technique that helps you to worry less?