A Lesson in Keeping Calm

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Matthew 6:25-27

This post took me a long time to write, because in this passage Jesus is telling his disciples to do something that seems humanly impossible. He’s telling them not to worry. And not just in a general feel-good off handed way, but literally. He is saying that even clothes and food and water – the very primitive foundations of life – are not worth fussing about because the Father knows of these needs and he will provide them.

This message is intended for you and I to take literally as well.

Looking it up in the dictionary, I found that worry means to give way to anxiety or unease; to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. This is a perfect definition, because when are we the most anxious? When we are focusing all our attention and energy on what’s wrong.

But what does Jesus say? In verse 33 he tells us what to do when our thoughts are weighing us down and causing us to be overwhelmed with worry:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

This is our hope. This is what he tells us to do. He tells us to pick our eyes up off our troubles and consider the Kingdom of God.

Instead of letting our hearts grow sick with worry, let’s seek the Kingdom of God by asking ourselves the following questions:

How does God want me to respond to this?

What does obedience look like here?

Instead of dwelling on this, how can I trust God?

These questions will help us start to take a step back and give us space to think about what God sees that we don’t. There is life on the other side of this practice of seeking first the Kingdom of God.

I’ve learned that if Jesus says it, there is freedom on the other side of it. We can be certain that a calmer, more peaceful mind awaits us on the other side of our obedience.

Even now. Even here.

This is a declaration of faith, even in the waiting, wishing, and hoping. In the pain, confusion, and chaos. Even now. Even here.

The following is a declaration of faith – the start to a prayer you can pray when things are difficult. I have learned that even in the waiting, wishing, and hoping, and even in the pain, confusion, and chaos, the Lord is with us.

Even now. Even here.

I will abide, even now. I will trust you, even now. I will believe, even now. Because you are working. You never grow weak or weary.

I will pray and seek you, even now. I know that you are leading me by your Holy Spirit, and shedding light onto my path. At every turn, you are with me. In everything, you are right beside me. When the heights are higher than I can climb, you sustain me.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

So even here, I will praise you. Even here, I will bless your name. I trust that you will teach me and show me your best way. I can face my fears, because you are with me.

There is nothing you do not know, and nothing escapes your eye.

I will bless the Lord who guides me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
Psalm 16:7-9

 

Bring everything to the Lord

Maybe when you woke up this morning, you felt an underlying current of worry, nervousness, or unease. Maybe as the morning progressed, the feelings began to intensify. Maybe you didn’t even have a reason. Maybe you had many.

This morning I struggled with this – feeling like too much weight was on my shoulders and there were too many things on my to-do list. I even felt pressure for all that’s on my husband’s plate. As I left for work, I began to get frustrated and started getting angry at God that these feelings exist.

But the moment I went to open my mouth so my complaints could pour forth, I felt in my spirit that I needed to stop, and be wise with my words. I felt the Spirit remind me who it is I am about to complain to.

Who am I to get angry at God?

I closed my mouth, and righted my thinking. I know that God isn’t the cause of these feelings.

That’s when I was reminded of two passages in the Bible.

The first was Luke 10:38-42 (nlt), which says:

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I didn’t have my Bible with me in the car, but I remembered what Jesus said to Martha: My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her. I saw so much of myself in Martha this morning – worried and fretting over so many details. But I felt an invitation to just sit at Jesus’s feet and learn from him.

That’s when I was reminded of the second passage in Philipians 4:6-7 (nlt):

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

After that, what could I do but bring my worries to the Lord?

I spent the remainder of my drive pouring forth my worries to the Lord. I gave him everything…what was on my mind, why, and how it made me feel. I felt peace as I began to do so. I was reminded that God is powerful, and he cares for me.

Imagine this – Jesus himself walks up to you and says, why are you worried? Cast your cares on me. I care for you. I know the number of hairs on your head. I knit you together. You are mine. Find your refuge in me. I am powerful, mighty, and able to do above and beyond anything you could ever hope or imagine.

Instead of letting our hearts be overwhelmed, let’s try what Jesus says. Let’s not worry about anything, but bring everything to the Lord.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7 (nlt)