February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’”—Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV)
In this modern, fast-paced, must be producing to be successful culture many of us are operating in some level of anxiety (even if it’s not apparent to others). Many of us have some kind of worry brewing just under the surface of our put-together exterior. Some may say, “But do you know how many responsibilities I have to juggle?”
I recently read a commentary that said, “There’s a difference between a godly sense of responsibility and an ungodly, untrusting worry. However, an ungodly, untrusting sense of worry usually masquerades as responsibility.” Meditate on that for a bit.
We can intellectually believe Jesus’ teaching on anxiety and know God is bigger than our problems. But the question is, “Do we rest in this assurance?” If we’re experiencing anxiety, it’s important to ask ourselves why. I’m actually writing this on the heels of an extremely anxious and uncomfortable day, and I had to ask myself that very same question.
Here’s what the Holy Spirit revealed to me: I lack trust. Needless to say, this isn’t an easy thing to admit! I believe His Word, I know I’m loved, I’m unimaginably valuable to God, and He’s both my provider and sustainer. Yet, even with this revelation, I take a deep breath and quietly utter one of the most honest prayers in all of the Bible: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 NKJV)!
Anxiety comes when we’re focused on ourselves and our own abilities. Jesus is giving us the remedy: We’re to shift our perspective from ourselves to the kingdom of God. The Word is our plumb line of truth—practicing this makes all the difference in the world.
One of the best exercises for exchanging anxieties for assurance is the skill of arresting and replacing. It’s when we consistently capture, arrest, and hand over every negative thought about ourselves, our past, and our present circumstances (including any false accusations about the character of God) to Jesus Christ. Then, we replace those thoughts with God’s truth. It’s 2 Corinthians 10:5 in action, which instructs us to cast down imaginations and every high and lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. This is not easy; it takes practice and persistence. However, arresting and replacing an anxious thought takes away any power it may have over us.
Ask yourself, “What does the Word of God have to say about this concern or thought? How does this thought affect my relationship with God and others?” Trust me, when you spend quiet time with the Holy Spirit, He will lovingly wash you in the truth.
In today’s passage, Jesus invites us to exchange anxieties for assurance—assurance in the exceptional care of our heavenly Father. Our Savior encourages us to look to creation and acknowledge the great, sufficient, and sustaining hand of God. The birds aren’t racked with worry about their next meal. The lilies aren’t concerned whether or not they’ll grow big and beautiful. Even Solomon with his riches and royalty couldn’t hold a candle to the beauty of God’s artistic splendor. Therefore, if He’s tending to His creation with this much care, then we’re safely resting in the palm of His mighty hand.
Pause: Are there any false beliefs you’ve been telling yourself which cause anxiety to rise up in you?
Practice: Go to the Word of God and seek several statements of truth that will help you arrest and replace your anxious thoughts.
Pray: Dear Lord, please forgive me when I don’t trust You. When my belief is in my head but not in my heart, I need You to help me so my heart can rest in Your capable hands. I ask You to provide me with a peace that surpasses my own understanding. Father, You are my provider and sustainer. Please tenderly show me all the ways I’ve chosen to self-soothe during anxiety instead of running to You. I acknowledge when I do this, I not only miss an opportunity to have intimate fellowship with You, but I’m walking in idolatry. Oh, Lord, please forgive me. Nothing in the world could ever provide comfort and protection like You can. I love You Lord. Amen.
Deb Marsalisi is an author, public speaker, mentor and Fire Inspector. She began her writing journey to make peace with her challenging past. It has provided her with an outlet for creative self-expression, and a healthy new perspective on life.
Through God’s amazing grace, she has learned to rejoice in life’s ups and downs, struggles and victories understanding they’ve been given so she can help and inspire others on their own journey of restoration. Her passion is to support others in emotional and spiritual habits that are truly life-changing. She spends her free time loving, encouraging and mentoring young women to grow in their relationship with Jesus. And she also enjoys cooking amazing meals for her friends and family.